Many of us as Ukrainian-Americans know about the nuclear disaster in Chornobyl, Ukraine because we stand united with our fellow countryman in Ukraine. As for other Americans, they have only heard the story of what happened in April 1986 and do not realize the “snowball effect” it has caused on the children of Chornobyl. On Sunday, October 3rd 2010 with the agreement of His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey, His Grace Bishop Daniel of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA traveled to Richmond, VA and was greeted with “Bread and Salt” a traditional Ukrainian custom, but this time with a Greek flair and in a Greek Parish.
The invitation was extended by Fr. Nicholas Bacalis and Fr. John Manuel and their parishioners as well as Subdeacon Nicholas Zachary of Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral to come and visit. The purpose of this visit was not to attend the annual Richmond Greek Festival, but to share a story of “young people helping their fellow men.” We have all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words and the picture that was presented that evening was about the children of the orphanages of Chornobyl and the mission teams of college age students of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA that went to Ukraine to help these disabled orphans.
The day began with His Grace, Bishop Daniel presiding over Divine Liturgy and also giving a beautiful homily, which really connected with congregation and the youth. Later that evening, the cathedral community along with other local Orthodox Churches in the area gathered for a benefit reception and dinner with a presentation to help support the program of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA assisting various orphanages of post-Chornobyl era, which was organized by Subdeacon Nicholas Zachary along with the help of his wife Julia and his mother Nina.
The banquet dinner was hosted by the men’s organization of AHEPA, Daughter’s of Penelope #68, Young Adults League and the OCF of VCU. In attendance that evening were Maria Keritsis – Master of Ceremony and Parish Board President, Father Nicholas Bacalis, Fr. John Manuel, Fr. C.N. Dombalis – former Dean of the Cathedral, Fr. Robert Holet – St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Charlottesville, VA, Fr. David Arnold – St. Cyprian Orthodox Church, Richmond, VA (OCA), Fr. Michael Rustick – St. James Parish, Farmville, VA (ACROD), Fr. Alexander Shuter - Ascension of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church, Williamsburg, VA, Olena Boyko and members of the Tidewater Ukrainian Cultural Association as well as Mrs. Jackie Anas and Kathy Matthews – Governor and Lt. Governor for the Daughters of Penelope, 3rd District along with their spouses who came to give their support for this worthy cause.
His Grace Bishop Daniel saw and made history by coming to Richmond and has left a lasting impression on the Greek Orthodox community along with the stories of his ministry to the orphans with everyone that evening. The benefit concluded with the presentation of about $10000 to His Grace Bishop Daniel in order to benefit the UOC of the USA’s Orphanage Program.