UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Archpastoral Visit to Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Dearborn, MI!
By Elizabeth Symonenko
Amazing! Inspiring! Marvelous! These are but a few of the words that were overheard being spoken by the congregants of the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Dearborn, Michigan on the weekend of the 9th of October.
Over the years the worsening economic situation in the Detroit area has forced many of the parishioners to leave in search of jobs elsewhere. This mass exodus has left the little church of Holy Trinity with a dwindling congregation. While it is small in number, it is big in heart. The parish often partakes of charitable activities, attends various Orthodox events and is a strong supporter of the Ukrainian community in the metropolitan Detroit area.
While the parish has been in existence since the late 1930’s, it has not had a hierarchical visit within the past 20 years. Therefore, when it was realized that His Grace Bishop Daniel was coming to visit, the parish regained some of its old excitement and vitality.
It was with outstretched arms and open hearts that the parish greeted His Grace Bishop Daniel, and seminarian Subdeacon John Charest. Reverend Fr. Andrew Rogers served Vespers on Saturday evening and was amazed to see his church filled with many new faces. Very Reverend Fr. Paul Bodnarchuk from St. Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Southfield, Michigan, was present along with a number of his parishioners, who came to support their sister parish and to see their bishop. Present also were the faithful from neighboring Greek Orthodox churches. After Vespers those present gathered for a light meal and had an opportunity to discuss a number of topics with His Grace, greatly benefiting from his pastoral guidance.
On the crisp Sunday morning of the 10th of October, the church was beautifully decorated with myriads of autumnal flower arrangements. Parishioners and guests alike, were all excited and waiting to greet their beloved hierarch. The children of the parish greeted His Grace with flowers and stalks of wheat while the Church Board President Raymond Newak and his wife Dolores greeted Bishop Daniel with the traditional bread and salt.
As the bells echoed through the neighborhood, the Hierarchical Liturgy commenced. The church was filled as the faithful came to join their bishop in worshiping the Lord.
The reading from the Gospel of Luke focused on the widow whose only son had died. His Grace Bishop Daniel delivered a moving sermon vividly bringing new meaning to the Gospel reading. He explained the significance of the widow losing her only son, which left her with no prospects for the future. As the sad and grieving funeral procession exits the city, it encounters the opposite of hopelessness and defeat. Entering the city is Christ with His disciples. While death and despair is exiting, hope and life is entering. These two processions metaphorically collide. There now exists hope, not only for the widow, but, for us all.
His Grace encouraged everyone present to go and live the life of a good Christian. To put other’s needs before their own. To help each and every person they encounter throughout the day. His Grace impressed upon those present that Christianity and the Church go beyond the walls of the physical building in which they were gathered. We are required to live according to Christ’s teachings and to embrace all those around us with love, understanding and peace. It is our duty to introduce the world to true Christianity, and to expose those we encounter to Christ through our attitudes, our words, and mostly through our actions of kindness, generosity and love towards others.
At the conclusion of the Liturgy, His Grace bestowed certificates of appreciation to a number of parishioners for their outstanding work and dedication to the Church. These individuals were Mr. and Mrs. John and Julia Stoiko, Mr. and Mrs. Peter and Betty Bokurak, Mrs. Jean Giczycz and Ms. Maryann Worpell. Many years to these individuals and may God reward them for all their efforts on His behalf!
The day concluded with everyone gathering in the church hall for a delicious lunch prepared by the sisterhood of Holy Trinity. While everyone enjoyed the scrumptious variety of Ukrainian dishes, people had an opportunity to get to know each other better. Many of the visitors became acquainted with the parishioners of Holy Trinity, exchanged email addresses and phone numbers, and made plans to get together more often. Ann Charest handled the raffling off of the beautiful bouquets of fall flowers, while others exchanged stories of church history and shared experiences.
His Grace’s visit resulted in the joyful coming together of two sister parishes. The following week the parishioners of Holy Trinity will come to worship and celebrate along with their extended family at St. Mary the Protectress Cathedral in Southfield, as they celebrate their 60th Anniversary.
As the weekend started, so it concluded, with a joyful, reinvigorated congregation of Holy Trinity who rejoiced at the visit of their beloved hierarch, His Grace Bishop Daniel. As they clean the tables, and lock the doors, they are already eagerly awaiting His Grace’s return.