AXIOS! Fr. Myroslav Mykytyuk Ordained to the Holy Priesthood
AXIOS! Fr. Myroslav Mykytyuk Ordained to the Holy Priesthood

ГІДНИЙ! Хіротонія Нового Священнослужителя УПЦ США

On the bright Spring morning of April 30th, 2022, as the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA gathered in the St. Andrew Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, New Jersey, they were determined to put aside all their worldly worries and concerns, if only for a few hours, in order to celebrate life.

On this Bright Saturday, the Church would be adding one more priest to labor in the Lord’s vineyard, for on this day Deacon Myroslav Mykytyuk would be ordained to the Holy Priesthood through the laying on of hands by His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Church.

With His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora present, Archbishop Daniel entered the church and having been greeted and giving his blessing to all present he proceeded to the center of the Nave, flanked by over 20 clergy who had traveled long distances to participate in this joyous event.

With the sun shining brightly from the clergy’s white vestments, making them seem to almost glow, the Divine Liturgy commenced. The day’s Gospel Reading was from John 3:22-33, was read in Ukrainian by Deacon Myroslav Mykytyuk, while the English version was read by Deacon Adrian Mazur.  As Archbishop Daniel gave his blessing after the Gospel, Very Rev. Stephen Hutnick stepped out into the Nave to give the day’s sermon.  Fr. Stephen, one of Dcn. Myroslav’s instructors at the Saint Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary explained today we have gathered to witness the Holy Spirit descend upon the young deacon, and raise him to the priesthood.

Fr. Stephen retold a story about a teacher asking her pupils to draw her a picture of anything they experienced over the summer.  One boy drew a fish, another drew a car, and then she came to another boy’s drawing and no matter how she tried, she was not able to figure out what he was drawing.  She gave up and asked the boy what he was drawing, to which he replied that he was drawing God.  The teacher explained that nobody knows what God looks like, to which the boy replied that if she had left him alone, he would have finished his drawing and she would have known what God looked like. 

As priests, it is important to realize what God looks like in their lives and the lives of those whom they serve.  The day’s Gospel story is perfect for this day.  St. John the Baptist states that Jesus must increase, while he decreases.  This is true of all clergy, as the ministry is not their own.  They are not called to lord it over people, but in all humility to allow the Bridegroom, who is Jesus, to shine through everything.  It is through Him and for Him that clergy serve.  It is important to remember this, that their goal is to make the people given to their care holy, to bring them to the faith, and to help them understand who God is.

As the Divine Liturgy continued, prayed, “…For You are the Offerer and the Offered, the Receiver and the Received, O Christ our God, and to You we ascribe glory, together with Your Father, who is from everlasting, and Your all-holy good, and life-creating Spirit, now and always and for ever and ever. Amen.”

After the prayer, a pitcher of water was brought to the Archchbishop in front of the Royal Doors by Seminarian Roman Marchyshak, who had a long towel or "rushnyk" draped over his neck and down the front, along with two additional seminarians at his sides.  As Seminarian Roman poured the water into the basin, allowing His Eminence to wash his hands, the other two helped him dry his hands by lifting the towel/rushnyk over the head of the first server and holding it for him.  

As His Eminence returned to the Altar, the choir, under the direction of Dr. Michael Andrec sang the Cherubic Hymn, and the clergy prepared for the Great Entrance.  As they proceeded out of the Altar, Deacon Myroslav, with his head covered with the Aer walked to the Narthex.  As Archbishop Daniel received the Gifts and placed them upon the Altar, he donned his mitre, blessed the faithful, and then took a seat at the corner of the Altar.

Deacon Myroslav was joined in the narthex by Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay and Deacon Adrian Mazur, who took him by the elbows exclaiming, “Command!” as the candidate to the priesthood, Deacon Myroslav, made a prostration.  Once again, they moved up, stopping before the tetrapod and repeating the process a second time.  Standing back up, Deacon Myroslav was led up to the Royal Gates and presented to Archbishop Daniel who was awaiting them, proclaiming, “Command! Holy Master, bless him who is before thee.” 

The archbishop, wearing his miter, was seated in the bishop’s chair which had been placed in front of the altar, a little to the left side, so as not have the Archbishops’s back to the altar itself.  As the candidate kneeled before His Eminence, the archbishop blessed him and gave him counsel.  He removed the Aer from the deacon’s shoulders and placed it upon the Altar.  V. Rev. Yurij Siwko and V. Rev. Stephen Hutnick now took the young deacon by his arms and led him around the Altar table, stopping to kiss each corner.  Reaching the Northwest corner, Deacon Myroslav kneeled before the sitting Archbishop and kissed his Epigonation/Palitza, which is the diamond shaped cloth that hangs from his right hip, and denotes him as a "soldier" of Christ, and symbolizes the Word of God, fighting the wiles of the enemy.

Once again two priests took Deacon Myroslav by the arms, this time it was Very Rev. Milorad Orlic, another one of his seminary instructors, and his own father, Very Rev. Yaromyr Mykytyuk, and lead him once again around the Altar table, and repeated the process one more time with priests Rev. Vasyl Pasakas and Rev. Oleg Kravchenko for a total of three rotations before the delivering the deacon a final time to his hierarch. 

This whole time the choir joyously sang:

Hear us, you martyred Saints who have fought the good fight and received crowns, entreat the Lord, to have mercy on our souls.

Glory to you, Christ our God, the Apostles' boast and pride, the Martyrs' fervent joy whose preaching is the consubstantial Trinity.

O Isaiah dance with joy, for the Virgin is indeed with child and brought forth a son, Emmanuel.  Who came both as God and man, Day-at-the-Dawn is his name, and by magnifying him, we call the Virgin blessed.

With three rotations completed, Deacon Myroslav kneeled at the Southwest corner of the Altar table leaning his head upon his hands which rested on the table. Vladyka Daniel covered his head with his Epitrachelion and his right hand, as he read the Prayers of Cheirotonia over him, while the clergy, the choir, those present at the Liturgy, and those attending over the live stream all prayed and sang “Lord, have mercy!” 

As prayers from around the world were raised, His Eminence prayed,

The divine grace, which always heals that which is infirm and completes that which is lacking, ordains the most devout Deacon Myroslav to the office of Priest.  Let us, therefore, pray for him, that the grace of the All-Holy Spirit may come upon him.

O God, great in might and inscrutable in wisdom, marvelous in counsel above the sons of men: You the same Lord, fill with the gift of Your Holy Spirit this man whom it has pleased You to advance to the degree of Priest; that he may become worthy to stand in innocence before Your altar, to proclaim the Gospel of Your kingdom, to minister the word of Your truth, to offer to You spiritual gifts and sacrifices; to renew Your people through the font of regeneration, that when he shall go to meet You, at the second coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Your only-begotten Son, he may receive the reward of good stewardship in the order given to him, through the plenitude of Your goodness.

For blessed and glorified is Your all-holy and majestic name, of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now, and ever and to the ages of ages.

Archbishop Daniel then raised newly ordained priest Myroslav to his feet, removed the deacon’s stole and presenting each item of the priestly vestments to the faithful he vested the new priest, each time proclaiming “Axios!” which means “worthy”.  As the church reverberated and the heavens echoed with “Axios”, the angels joining the people below in the heavenly proclamation of joy, Archbishop Daniel presented the new priest with a service book, and then brought him fully vested forward to present to the people and introduce them to newly ordained Father Myroslav.

With a bashful smile, and tears of humility and joy shining in his eyes, Fr. Myroslav stepped down from the ambo to rejoice with his biggest supporter, his wife Christina, sharing an emotional hug, as he then turned to his longest supporter, his mother who had flown in from Ukraine, and shared a tearful hug before returning to the Altar.  The new priest greeted the concelebrating priests with a holy kiss, then stood at the altar and concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with them, holding the Aer that was just recently upon his shoulders, over the Holy Gifts during the proclamation of the Creed. Thus, the Divine Liturgy continued with the new priest shining in his new white vestments leading the way, supported by the senior clergy.

After the consecration of the Holy Gifts, Father Myroslav came and stood before the Altar as Archbishop Daniel handed him the consecrated Lamb saying:  “Receive this Divine Trust, and preserve it whole and unharmed until your last breath, because you will be held to an accounting therefore in the Second and Awesome Coming of our Great Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ, at which time He will demand It from you.”

After reciting the Lord’s Prayer, the clergy partook of the Holy Gifts, this being the first time that Father Myroslav communed as a priest.  After the clergy communed, they turned through the still open Royal Gates to face the congregation.  Having recited the Prayer Before Communion, His Eminence permitted the newly ordained priest to be the one to administer Holy Communion to the faithful, who had lined up to receive the Gifts which the Lord had loving prepared and was offering to them.  Archbishop Daniel stood closely behind, supporting the young priest in the process, as one can only imagine the emotions going through Fr. Myroslav’s head as he held the very Body and Blood of Christ, and communed the faithful.

As the choir sang Father Myroslav came out to recite the prayer behind the ambo, as Archbishop Daniel gave the final blessing and dismissal. 

Having sung Christ is Risen, and Mnohaya Lita, His Eminence stepped out on the ambo with Fr. Myroslav and read the Archpastoral Testimonial of ordination making it known that on this day Father Myroslav Mykytyuk has been added to the ranks of the priesthood of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, allowing him to administer the Holy Mysteries of the Church, baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; to hear Confessions, and distribute Holy Communion, and to join in Holy Matrimony, a man and a woman after ascertaining their freewill and consent, and all undergo all other responsibilities of a priest of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Once again proclaiming “Axios! Axios! Axios!” Archbishop Daniel took a moment to greet the newly ordained priest and give him some words of advice.  His Eminence explained that we are at a pivotal time in history, and it is more important than ever for the priests of the Church to be strong and able to guild the faithful in the daily travails between good and evil.  We are seeing this battle today in the ongoing aggression of Russia against Ukraine, in addition to other daily troubles. 

Vladyka Daniel explained that as Fr. Myroslav was a child he was already being prepared for his priestly journey.  Now as a priest, he does not continue this journey on his own, but, with his entire family.  His Eminence asked that he, along with his wife Christina, be strong and solid in their faith.  The people need to see a priest who preaches the Word of God with his whole being, not just with words spoken from the pulpit on Sunday.  He asked that the young couple undertake the service to the Lord with kindness, love and compassion.  Always remain a kind and loving person, because it is that love that will touch the hearts of the people the Lord entrusts to him in the future.

Archbishop Daniel concluded by blessing Fr. Myroslav’s priesthood, and motioning his wife, Dobrodiyka Christina forward, His Eminence prayed over her, that the Lord should strengthen her as she serves and supports her husband in his ministry.

His Eminence Metropolitan Antony stepped out to give Fr. Myroslav counsel.  He instructed the young priest to pray unceasingly, that the Lord should guide him and help him in his ministry.  His Eminence asked that the young man throw himself deeply into his calling, that he ask the Holy Spirit for the words needed in every situation he faces, and remember that he has been called to serve, and not to rule.  He reminded him that God has given him everything he needs to be successful in his ministry.

Turning to Fr. Myroslav’s wife, Christina, he exclaimed that the Lord has chosen her to be her husband’s helpmate in his ministry, and that she will be required to assist him.  She will serve as a solid foundation for her husband’s priesthood.

Turning back to the young priest, the Metropolitan bestowed his blessing upon him and wished him peace.

With these words newly ordained Father Myroslav took the opportunity to greet and thank the hierarchs on this momentous day in his life.  He thanked them for not only for ordaining him, but, for their patience with him, their teachings, their love, and mostly for their prayers.  Presenting them with bouquets of roses, the young priest humbly expressed his gratitude and asked for their continued prayers.

 Father Myroslav than turned to thank his parents who had flown in from Ukraine to participate in this momentous day.  He thanked them for raising him in the Church, for loving him, directing his childhood steps, guiding him through his school years, and encouraging him in his calling to the priesthood.

Turning to his brother seminarians, he thanked them for their camaraderie, their assistance as they all studied together for exams, and mostly for their friendship.  In conclusion the young priest turned to the people standing in the church and thanked them for participating in his big day.

As he was finishing, the seminarians stepped up and presented him with a bouquet expressing their continued love and support of their brother seminarian as he embarks on his priestly journey.  They assured him of their continuing prayers and asked for his in return.

Accepting the flowers with gratitude, smiling, Fr. Myroslav invited everyone to head to the seminary for a picnic sponsored by the UOL.

As the people approached to venerate the cross presented to them by Fr. Myroslav, each one took a moment to hug the new priest and offer their well wishes, as they accepted an icon card as a memento of the special occasion.  One by one the faithful descended the steps of the church, with smiles upon their faces, their spirits lifted by the joyous events of the day, and made their way over the seminary to continue the celebration.

May the Lord bless newly ordained Rev. Mykytyuk with wisdom, patience, good health, perseverance for many blessed years as he labors in the Lord’s Vineyard.  Axios!  Christ is Risen!

AXIOS! Fr. Myroslav Mykytyuk Ordained to the Holy Priesthood

Photos by Reader Maksym Zhuravchyk and Seminarian Andrii Akulenko

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