UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Saint Andrew Feast Day in Los Angeles, CA!
By Deacon Oleh Saciuk
On the occasion of the celebration of the annual Saint Andrew Feast Day on December 12, the Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Los Angeles was once again honored by the visit of His Grace Bishop Daniel, whose presence made the annual celebration more than memorable. The parish was also honored by the presence of Very Rev. Fr. Vasile Sauciur, Dean of the West Coast Deanery and pastor of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Pro-Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA and Very Rev. Fr. Myron Mykhaylyuk, pastor of Protection of the Mother of God Ukrainian Orthodox Parish of San Diego, CA. Also concelebrating the Divine Liturgy with their hierarch were Very Rev. Fr. Vasyl Shtelen, pastor of Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Parish, with parish Deacon Oleh Saciuk and guest Deacon Nicholas Denysenko, professor of liturgical studies at Loyola Marymount University, with the assistance of Subdeacon Gary Gebet, Subdeacon Andriy Matlak, a seminarian of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Bound Brook, NJ, Subdeacon David De Jesus, and altar servers Mykola Sauciur and John Astalis.
On Saturday morning, the bishop of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA visited Los Angeles Metropolitan Area School of Ukrainian Language and Traditions “Ridna Shkola”. The children impatiently waited for the arrival of their guest in whose honor they prepared a small concert and shared with the bishop the precepts of Christian Ethics, Ukrainian language and history that they learn every Saturday of the school year. The bishop also had an opportunity to visit with eh teachers and parents of the children, discussing vital issues of upbringing of the next generation of our youth in the world with social and moral challenges.
The parish celebrations of St. Andrew Patron Feast Day began on Saturday evening with Great Vespers, after which many faithful partook in the Holy Mystery of Confession. Following Vespers, the bishop addressed the faithful of the parish reflecting upon the legacy of the patron saint of the parish family. The evening concluded with a coffee hour at which Vladyka Daniel had a chance to personally speak with every parishioner in attendance. On Sunday morning, His Grace was escorted from the parish rectory in procession to the church with the deacons and subdeacons, where he was greeted by the parish pastor, Fr. Shtelen. His Grace gave his blessing to the clergy and was then welcomed by Sisterhood president, Luda Tolmachov, with a traditional festive bread which she baked, and which His Grace promised to take home, remembering her great culinary prowess.
His Grace then entered the church and, after being vested, celebrated the Divine Liturgy in his inimitable way. The concelebration of the Liturgy by three priests and two deacons with their hierarch was something to which the parishioners were not accustomed. Through their common prayers with their bishop, the grace of the Holy Spirit truly descended on all. The church was filled with joy through the communion of dozens of faithful who rejoiced in the Spirit and in the presence of His Grace. As always, the church choir, under the direction of Greg Hallick, was truly magnificent and shook the very walls with its singing of “many years” for Bishop Daniel. At the veneration of the Cross, the faithful received the blessing of His Grace and anointment with blessed oil. Each parishioner received a memorial gift – an icon of the upcoming feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In his homily, His Grace called on everyone to be truly disciples and followers of Christ and to love one another and sacrifice themselves for others. He spoke of the example of Saint Andrew, who was faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ even in the face of death on the cross and refused to sacrifice to idols and pagan gods, but freely chose to follow Jesus in His Crucifixion, becoming an example of faithfulness to the Truth for us all. Utilizing parables form our daily lives, the bishop made references to Christian virtues and the gifts of he Holy Spirit, which make possible our active participation in each others lives.
Following the Liturgy, Vladyka Daniel was welcomed in the church hall by the president of the parish board, Dr. Andriy Olesijuk, who also served as master of ceremonies. His Grace blessed the great feast, and all guests were treated to the type of delicious dinner which only the sisters of the parish are able to prepare masterfully year after year. Entertainment during the banquet was provided by bass-baritone Mykola Zlidenny, immediate past parish board president, and by singers of the Kobzar choir under the direction of Greg Hallick.
At the conclusion of the dinner, Bishop Daniel reflected on the legacy of the Saint Andrew parish, which is nearing the celebration of its 60th anniversary in 2011 and reminded all that the true legacy of the parish, as well as of all Ukrainian Orthodox Christians, must be not in the buildings they leave behind, but in their charity towards others. He spoke in particular of the charitable work which the Saint Andrew Society has done through its soup kitchens and food drives for the needy in Ukraine. He exhorted all present to join in such works, and to make love and charity the real legacy of the parish. A collection was then taken for the Saint Andrew Society, and many of those present resolved to take up their crosses and to dedicate themselves to helping the needy, especially in support of the exemplary works of charity done by young adults in our Church under the guidance of Bishop Daniel, who in a few days will again lead a group of college students on a winter mission to the orphanages adopted by our Church in Ukraine.
Everyone present, young and old alike, rejoiced in the visit of their hierarch and in the opportunity to speak with him in person and to receive his blessings. Everyone was saddened by having to part company, but reassured in the hope and knowledge that, through God’s grace, they will rejoice in seeing him again.