UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
EXTRAORDINARY SOBOR of the
UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF CANADA
His Eminence Archbishop Antony and His Grace Bishop Daniel represented our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA at the recent Extraordinary Sobor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which was held at Holy Trinity Cathedral on 22-23 August 2008. The Sobor was held on conjunction with at celebration of the 90th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada (1918-2008).
The purpose for the convocation of the Sobor was two-fold: the election of two new hierarchs for the Church and the presentation of proposed revisions to the church’s By-Laws for review, discussion and a vote on adoption.
The Sobor began on Friday, 22 August with Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan John of Winnipeg and all Canada, Bishop Christophoros, representative of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Yurij of the Eastern Eparchy in Toronto and the two candidates for election to vacant episcopal sees, Bishops Ilarion and Andrij. Although Metropolitan Constantine was unable to attend, Archbishop Antony and Bishop Daniel arrived during the afternoon of this first day of the Sobor, which was dedicated to the consideration of By-Law revisions.
The candidates – Bishop Ilarion (Rudyk), formerly assistant to the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Portugal, and Bishop Andrij, formerly Bishop of London, England, UOC in Diaspora – were officially presented to the Sobor delegates from all over Canada, during the evening session of the Sobor on Friday evening, 22 August. A biography of each candidate was presented as they were introduced and then each candidate spoke in both Ukrainian and English giving the parish representatives and clergy an insight into their personalities and abilities. Both candidates were born in Ukraine and have solid theological educations and have served Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in Europe for the past few years.
Bishop Ilarion was consecrated for service in Portugal to the thousands of new Ukrainian immigrants directly under the Ecumenical Patriarchate by Archbishop Vsevolod and other hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne. Bishop Andrij was consecrated in St. Volodymyr Cathedral, Chicago in December 2006 by Metropolitan Constantine, Archbishop Antony, Archbishop Vsevolod, Metropolitan Nicholas (Carpatho-Rusyn Archdiocese in America and three other Orthodox hierarchs prior to his election as Bishop of the Western Europe Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora. Both candidates were released from their previous appointments to stand for election in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.
Following Divine Liturgy, served by all the hierarchs listed above on Saturday, 23 August, the formal nomination and election of the candidates as bishops of the Church took place. Following a Moleben calling down the Holy Spirit upon the election process, Archbishop Yurij thoroughly explained the ancient election process and the solemn and historical responsibility that the clergy and lay delegates to the Sobor carried upon their souls during this election. Bishop Ilarion was elected as Bishop of Edmonton, Alberta and the Western Eparchy of the UOC of Canada and Bishop Andrij was elected as Bishop of Saskatoon and Auxiliary Bishop to Metropolitan John of the Central Eparchy of the Church. The announcements of the election results were formally made and the entire church broke out into “Axios! Axios! Axios!” and Mnohaya Lita!
The balance of the second day of the Sobor was devoted to the complete consideration and discussion of the proposed By-Law revisions. The Revision Commission presented each segment of the proposal, which were discussed and amended according to the combined will of the delegates gathered into the Sobor body. A sincere and open discussion, along with a spirit of compromise and willingness to listen, resulted in the overwhelming approval of the revised By-Laws. It was evident throughout this discussion and the entire Sobor that the participants were willing to allow the Holy Spirit to be their guide.
Following the closing Divine Liturgy of the Sobor on 24 August, Ukrainian Independence Day, a Moleben was served by all the hierarchs for the good estate of the Ukrainian Nation and the guidance of her political and spiritual leaders. At the 90th Anniversary Banquet held in the cathedral social center, the newly elected bishops spoke to the large gathering, expressing their deep gratitude to the Sobor for the trust placed in them and asking for continued prayers as they begin their work in their respective Eparchies. Greetings from Patriarch Bartholomew were expressed by Bishop Christophoros, Auxiliary Bishop of the Greek Orthdoox Church in Canada along with a discussion of the theological understanding of the responsibilities of the episcopacy.
Archbishop Antony first greeted the gathering in behalf of Metropolitan Constantine and all the clergy and faithful of our UOC of USA at the 90th anniversary celebration and spoke of the direct lineage of episcopal consecration from the first Apostles down to the present day hierarchs of the Orthodox Church throughout the world. He spoke of the powerfully historical event that had taken place in the election of Bishops Ilarion and Andrij. He reminded everyone present that their prayers for their hierarchs and clergy are paramount to their success, both in the eyes of God and those entrusted to their spiritual care. He called the clergy and faithful to constant vigilance in their service to the Church and to fellow man, which will make the efforts of their new hierarchs much easier.
Bishop Daniel spoke about the role of Ukraiunian Orthodox Christian in a modern day society. His Grace reflected upon the dangers that our parish communities are faced with, especially the one of secularism and reminded the faithful of their duty to unite their prayers and worship to godly living in obedience to the will of God and the teaching of the Church.
Our bishops returned to the USA with a deep sense of joy that the Extraordinary Sobor of our sister church in Canada was so successful and revealed a depth of faith in God’s guidance in the participants, which was felt by all present. We wish the newly elected hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada the most abundant blessings upon their ministry through the Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father and the Communion of the Holy Spirit.