60th Anniversary of the Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Genk, Belgium!



The parish family of St. Archangel Michael in Genk, Belgium, celebrating its 60th anniversary welcomed His Grace Bishop Daniel to this celebration with the outpouring of love and a record number of 15 inches of snow! His Grace visited the parish at the request of Metropolitan Constantine, Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora, expressing to the Ukrainian Orthodox community of Belgium the depth of paternal love our hierarchs have for the Church.

On Friday, 21 November, the Feast of Archangel Michael and All the Heavenly Bodiless Powers, His Grace visited His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Belgium and a Permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Great Church of Christ, along with His Grace Bishop Athenagoras of Sinope, an assistant to Metropolitan Panteleimon. The hierarchs discussed the status of Orthodox affairs in Belgium, the USA and in Ukraine following the historic visit of His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew earlier this year.

On Saturday, 22 November, Bishop Daniel met with His Eminence Archbishop Ioan, the ruling hierarch of the Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand of the UOC in Diaspora. The hierarchs discussed Church life in Western Europe and in the Australia and New Zealand Eparchy, where 14 parishes of the UOC in Diaspora are located. Archbishop Ioan expressed his greetings to Bishop Daniel on the occasion of his upcoming installation as an eparchial bishop of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA in Chicago, IL.

On Sunday, 23 November, His Grace Bishop Daniel served a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. Michael Church. Assisting the bishop were clergy of the Western European Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Diaspora:  V. Rev. Bohdan Matvichuk, V. Rev. Mykola Derewianka, Protopresbyter Anfir Ostapchuk and V. Rev. Fr. Dmytro Nedilchak. Many people participated in the liturgical services of the day arriving from France, Germany, Great Britain, various parts of Belgium and other European countries. Representative of the Mayor’s office Wim Dries and the Counselor Oleksandr Moroz of Ukrainian Embassy in Belgium joined the faithful of St. Michael parish for their Patronal Feast Day and offered their greetings.

In his homily, Bishop Daniel reflected upon the Golden Rule, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27) from the Sunday Gospel reading. He stated that the “Golden rule” is not just a Christian concept. Every conceivable religion and culture in the world has the Golden Rule in one form or another. Bishop Daniel challenged the faithful to ask of themselves “Who is my neighbor?” He continued that our Lord came into a world of "we" and "them," "we" being the circle of those recognized as neighbors, and "them" being the rest of the world regarded as hostile strangers and enemies of the people. Through His ministry and the message of Love, the Lord broke down the walls of division and the borders of prejudice and suspicion that humans have erected between "us" and "them."

To bring home this point the bishop dwelled upon the parable of the Good Samaritan, who truly proves himself to be neighbor to the man who fell to the thieves. “Thus, to the question "Who is my neighbor" Jesus' answer is: Anyone and everyone without exception”.  His Grace concluded:  “Today is the day to identity and tear down all the borders we have erected between those who belong to us (and are, therefore, deserving of our love and concern) and those who don't (those others who can ‘go to hell’). The gospel today challenges us all to dismantle these walls. This way we work with our Lord to realize His teaching that the world must live without borders.”

In addition, the Bishop greeted the faithful on behalf of Metropolitan Constantine and reflected upon the vitality of the various ministries of the parish, encouraging the faithful to become more active in the life of the parish community so as to experience the Love of Christ as it is revealed in our relationships with each other.

Following the Liturgy, the clergy with the faithful processed outside the church temple in front of the memorial dedicated to the victims of the 1932-1933 Genocidal Famine (Holodomor) in Ukraine. His Grace served a memorial service for the victims of the tragedy, following which a representative of the Embassy of Ukraine in Belgium Oleksandr Moroz read a formal statement of the President of Ukraine regarding the tragic events of Holodomor.

Following liturgical services, the parish pastor, Fr. Vitaly Derewianka, invited everyone present to a formal banquet marking the 60th anniversary of the parish family. Fr. Vitaly offered a historical account of the parish foundation and its ministry throughout the past 60 years. Parishioners and guests shared with each other their experiences through parish life and the important role of the parish in the life of various groups of immigrants from Ukraine, Georgia, Russia and other nations, who now belong to the parish.

Ukrainian language version of the article.

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