UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSSITORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Mission Team Leaves with Hope and Love to Visit the Children of Ukrainian Orphanage!
For the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Bound Brook, NJ, December 20th, 2010 was a typical Monday afternoon in the seminary until the six Mission Team members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA arrived for their orientation before departure for Ukraine on Tuesday, December 21st. For these six 2010 Winter Mission Team members, the day was anything but spiritually uplifting and exciting. These missionaries are: Katya Carman of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Boston, MA; Charissa Sheptak, the former encampment director at All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Camp in Emlenton, PA; Tabitha Houck of Holy Ghost Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Coatesville, PA; Katherine Stecyk, a Fulbright Scholar from Parma, OH; Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH and His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA.
On Monday evening, His Grace Bishop Daniel, the spiritual father of the Mission Team along with Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay led the very first prayer service in the Seminary chapel of the Three Holy Hierarchs. The bishop spoke of the task that is set before the missionaries: “to open their hearts to the unknown experience and to expect nothing but love, while offering the love of Christ to those that are in need.” The bishop stated that people often ask, 'Why would you do this Mission Trip? Why would you go to Ukrainian orphanages and spend your own money to go and work with handicapped children?' The answer is quite simple - we need to understand, when you know Christ, this is what you do. You share the love and compassion of Christ with the world, and Ukrainian orphanages that are at times forgotten by the world are the very part of that world.
Each year thousands of people of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA are blessed to witness the Church’s work with the orphan’s in Ukraine. Some of them feel a nudge to do something that benefits someone else. Others are looking for adventure and personal growth. They have a desire to see, experience and discover their Holy Orthodox Faith in new and meaningful ways. Adventure is a way to learn from others and explore what God is doing around the world. When we perceive God working among us and become a part of His mission, we find adventure. The adventure is a result of the mission. On these Mission Trips to Ukrainian Orphanages we love the adventure; however, it is never about the adventure. The mission of Christ’s love comes first."
Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay, the director of the Consistory Office of Christian Charity spoke of the vitality of the Church’s charitable work in Ukraine and pointed out to the team members that their service on behalf of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA is a powerful witness to the world around us – that we do care and follow the Lord in His footsteps changing the life of one person at a time.
On Tuesday morning, the Team Members joined the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary for Divine Liturgy served by His Grace Bishop Daniel, Fr. Ivan Synevskyy, and Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay entreating the Lord to bless their efforts of compassion and love.
Unfortunately, due to the winter storms in Europe, the departure of the Church's Mission Team was delayed until Thursday, December 23, 2010.
We ask our readers and the entire Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA to remember the servants of God – the Missionaries of our Holy Church – His Grace Bishop Daniel, Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay, Katherine Carman, Tabitha Houck, Charissa Sheptak and Katherine Stecyk in their daily prayers.