UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Eparchial Visit Brings Smiles and Snow!
By Andriy Mychailovych Karkoc
Earlier this year His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA graciously accepted the invitation of the pastor of the parish Very Rev. Fr. Evhen Kumka and the preseident of the Parish Board of Administration Valentina Yarr to participate in the celebration of the 85th anniversary of St. Michael’s & St. George’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, MN, scheduled for November 14, 2010.
The Bishop arrived in the Minneapolis on Friday afternoon November 12, 2010. In the spirit of fellowship and church family, members of the Church Board and their families held a “pot-luck” dinner to greet Bishop Daniel at the parish hall after his arrival. The parish board enjoyed, as always, their meeting with the Eparchial Bishop, and it goes without saying that the culinary efforts where very delicious and no one left hungry!
The evening’s activities did not, however, all go as planned. Minnesota’s long and lingering Indian Summer (i.e. late fall) ended emphatically with a blizzard that delivered almost eight inches of wet, heavy snow that fell well into the night.
Bishop Daniel’s busy schedule continued on Saturday morning, Nov. 13, 2010 at 9:00am when the bishop and the pastor of the parish family Very Rev. Fr. Evhen Kumka served a Moleben service for the children and parents of the Parish’s Ukrainian School. Easily the most touching moment occurred when the Bishop knelt to read from the Gospels, surrounded eye-to-eye, by a circle of our children. As part of his outreach, His Grace Bishop Daniel met in an informal setting with the parents of the children enrolled in the school (a practice that’s turning into a tradition!) and then in his role as our spiritual leader, visited each classroom individually to reach and teach his young (and continually smiling) students.
Later that afternoon Bishop Daniel again returned to the Church Hall, to visit with church members and parishioners, prior to officiating at the Vespers service. Due to the weather and early darkness, attendance was not large as hoped for, but our joints prayers and hymns remained spiritually uplifting.
Continuing his long day into the evening, and reaching out to our larger Ukrainian community, the Bishop accepted an invitation to be the featured speaker at the dinner honoring the 60th Anniversary of the Ukrainian-American Youth Association (CYM) held at the Ukrainian Event Center at 7:30pm on November 13, 2010. The event (in spite of the weather) was very well attended, with over 230 guests attending the banquet. Bishop Daniel spoke to an attentive audience about Ukrainian identity, faith and history, along with how to save and preserve our religious and cultural legacy moving forward in American society and life.
Finally, the day of our Parish’s celebration arrived. Bishop Daniel was greeted at 9:30am on the Church steps by the parish board president Valentina Yarr, who welcomed him with bread and salt, and a contingent of children in Ukrainian costumes spreading a welcoming blanket of rose-petals. Bishop Daniel served a Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Concelebration with the bishop were the pastor of Holy Archangel Michael/St. George Ukrainian Orthodox parish Very Rev. Fr. Evhen Kumka, Very Rev. Fr. Petro Siwko, a pastor of St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Arden Hiils, MN and Protodeacon Andriy Fronchak of St. Volodymyr Cathedral in Chicago, IL. Six altar boys under the direction of Juri Loutchko served in the Holy space of the parish temple. The beautiful service was well attended, and featured the choir under the direction of Mrs. Kira Tsarehradsky. The theme of family again resurfaced at the end of Divine Liturgy, when Bishop Daniel presented Certificates of Recognition (Blessed Hramota) to or long-serving church-family member and talented choir director, K. Tsarehradska and another Certificate to our dedicated Cultural Chair Maria Mischenko-Odermann who couldn’t attend due to illness. This spontaneous and joyous occasion was recorded for posterity by our member (and photographer extraordinaire) Monty Swann.
The true highlights of our event occurred on stage. The children of our Ukrainian School put on a three-act play entitled “Little Red Riding Hood of the Carpathians” to open the banquet. Special recognition to Lida Poletz who directed, and Wanda Bahmet and Myroslava Moysechuk assisted in presenting the play. The play was recited in Ukrainian, contained to group songs, featured a Hutzul hunter, a Baba, a Chervona Shapochka and a Wolf! All performers rated recognition, with Denis Moysechuk meriting attention for his excellent wolf. To rousing applause our thespians abandoned the stage.
The second highlight occurred when Bishop Daniel introduced Monty Swann and Bohdan Billy, both of whom attended a mission visit to the Church supported orphanages in Ukraine. Monty volunteered his time (and professional expertise as photographer/videographer) and was financially sponsored by the Church Board to record and document the touching efforts made under the leadership of our bishop to touch the lives of orphans suffering from physical and mental disabilities. After a brief fifteen minute presentation I was reduced to tears. The love, and happiness and joy these small efforts bring into the lives of these abandoned and orphaned children, half a planet away were captured and amplified by Mr. Swann’s artistry and photography. We recommend that all our Christian friends and fellow Orthodox faithful review this powerful testimony to Christian love at www.uocofusa.org
On behalf of the Ukrainian School, Mrs. Christine Swann presented the Bishop with a check for $600 raised during school events donated to the orphanage effort. Mrs. Yarr, on behalf of St. Michael’s & St. George’s Parish and Church Board donated $2000, and many other generous guests were moved to make donations. A total of $3500 was raised for the orphanage missions as a result. A fitting tribute, in support of a worthwhile cause, that closed the events surrounding St. Michael’s Parish Day celebration.
The late afternoon sun sparkled off the newly shoveled piles of snow as guests and visitors enjoyed the last of their desert, wine, coffee or tea and approached or visited with our Eparchial bishop. During these visits and conversations, a spirit sharing, community and caring suffused the last hours of our celebration. We look forward to seeing the bishop again, as he visits our sister parish of St. Katherine in Arden Hills, MN on Palm Sunday of 2011!