Embracing Faith and Tradition: Archbishop Daniel Visits All Saints Camp
Embracing Faith and Tradition: Archbishop Daniel Visits All Saints Camp

All Saints Camp of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA recently transformed into a vibrant sanctuary of faith, culture, and joy during the Diocesan Church School Encampment. This annual event, designed to nurture the spiritual and cultural growth of young participants, reached new heights with the visit of His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, President of the Consistory of the UOC of the USA and Eparchial hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Church on 28-29 June, 2024. His presence brought a renewed sense of purpose and inspiration, creating an unforgettable experience for all involved.

23-29 June, 2024 - A Week of Faith, Fellowship, and Fun

The encampment was filled with a variety of activities aimed at deepening the participants’ understanding of their faith and heritage. Throughout the week, the youth engaged in enriching experiences that covered both spiritual education and cultural immersion. They delved into the spiritual precepts of the Orthodox Faith, learning how to incorporate these principles into their daily lives. This journey of discovery was complemented by lessons in Ukrainian religious and ethnic traditions, fostering a deep sense of pride and connection to their roots.

In addition to spiritual learning, the camp offered a vibrant array of arts and crafts, allowing creativity to flourish and cultural symbols to come to life. Singing traditional hymns and songs filled the air with a sense of unity and joy, while sports and swimming activities provided a perfect balance of physical exercise and fun. Meals were a cultural feast, with Ukrainian cuisine seasoned with a hint of American flavor, delighting everyone’s taste buds and bringing a taste of home to the camp.

Archbishop Daniel’s Spiritual Guidance

The spiritual culmination of the encampment was undoubtedly the visit of Archbishop Daniel. His presence brought sentiments of reverence and excitement, as the children eagerly anticipated his words of wisdom and encouragement. In his heartfelt sermon, Archbishop Daniel spoke about the significance of worship, emphasizing both communal and personal aspects.

He taught the children about the various postures of prayer, each carrying profound spiritual meaning:

  • Standing represents attention and worship, a stance of readiness and honor before God.
  • Kneeling signifies repentance and request, a humble posture of seeking divine mercy and grace.
  • Bowing with arms, knees, and head embodies surrender to God and repentance, a full-body gesture of humility and devotion.
  • Sitting symbolizes being in the embrace of God, a moment of rest, peace, and closeness to the Divine.

With gentle guidance, Vladyka instructed the children on how to adopt these postures during prayer. They followed his example, experiencing firsthand the deep spiritual dimensions of the Holy Orthodox Faith tradition. This practical lesson in prayer left a lasting impression, equipping them with a deeper understanding of how to connect with God in their daily lives.

Archbishop Daniel also conveyed warm greetings from His Eminence Metropolitan Antony. He assured the young participants of the Metropolitan’s prayers and spiritual fatherhood, reinforcing the sense of being part of a larger, loving faith community. This message of support and guidance was deeply felt, strengthening the children’s connection to their church and spiritual leadership.

Celebrating the Divine Liturgy

The week’s spiritual journey culminated in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, a sacred and unifying experience for all. Clergy members joined Archbishop Daniel in this holy celebration, including Rev. Fr. Ivan Tchopko, the spiritual father of the encampment; Rev. Fr. Yurii Bobko – pastor of Sts Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Lyndora, PA; Rev. Fr. Sviatoslav Hot, pastor of Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Maplewood, NJ; Rev. Fr. Mykola Zomchak – pastor of Sts Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Youngstown, OH; Deacon Maksym Zhuravchyk of the Three Holy Hierarchs Chapel of St. Sophia Seminary and Very Rev. Fr. Steven Repa – pastor of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Sharon, PA, who was in attendance.

Seminarians assisted in the liturgical celebration, while the youth of the Church chanted responses to the liturgical hymns, their voices blending in harmonious devotion. The participation of the young voices added a special vibrancy to the Liturgy, making it a truly communal and uplifting experience.

Expressions of Gratitude

Archbishop Daniel took the time to express his gratitude to the dedicated staff and volunteers of All Saints Camp, acknowledging their hard work and commitment. He specifically mentioned:

  • Mr. Joshua Oryhon, the Camp Manager, for his excellent management and organization of the camp.
  • Mrs. Natalie Kapeluch-Nixon, Director of the Consistory Youth and Young Adult Ministry, for her leadership and vision in shaping the youth programs.
  • Mrs. Kira Senedak, Director of the DSCS encampment, for her tireless efforts in ensuring a successful and enriching experience for all participants.
  • The numerous counselors, cooks and volunteers, whose dedication and care made the camp a nurturing and joyous environment.

Archbishop Daniel’s visit to All Saints Camp was more than just a ceremonial visit; it was a profound moment of spiritual growth and cultural celebration for the youth of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Through prayer, worship, and joyous exploration of their heritage, these young participants left the camp with renewed faith, deeper understanding, and cherished memories.

As they returned home, the lessons learned and the experiences shared would continue to resonate in their hearts. The spiritual dimensions of the Holy Orthodox Faith tradition, embodied in the postures of prayer and the communal worship, would guide them on their spiritual journey. The sense of belonging to a supportive and loving faith community would strengthen their resolve to live out their faith with integrity and joy.

In the words of Archbishop Daniel, this encampment was a testament to the enduring power of faith and tradition, a beacon of hope and love for the future generations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The youth, inspired and enlightened, are now equipped to carry forward the spiritual and cultural legacy of their ancestors, enriching their lives and those of their communities with the timeless wisdom of their faith.

Embracing Faith and Tradition: Archbishop Daniel Visits All Saints Camp

Photos by Deacon Maksym Zhuravchyk, Subdeacon mykola Stefanyk and Becky Mills

(26 images)

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