UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Lenten Archpastoral Visit to St. Anthony of the Desert Ukrainian Orthodox Mission in NM!
It has become a pious tradition for the faithful of St. Anthony of the Desert Ukrainian Orthodox Mission community in Las Cruces, NM to welcome into their midst their spiritual father and Eparchial Archpastor His Grace Bishop Daniel.
As in the past, the bishop arrived a day earlier, on Friday April 1, 2011, in order to familiarize himself with the daily life of the mission as well as to meet with individual parishioners and to provide guidance and support for the ministry of the mission family that continues to grow rapidly.
Rev. Fr. Gabriel Rochelle, pastor of the mission community, welcomed the hierarch on behalf of the faithful with words of love and a request for constant intercession by the spiritual father of the Eparchy for the ministry of St. Anthony of the Desert Mission.
During the three day visit to Las Cruces, NM, Vladyka Daniel had an opportunity to meet with the local Orthodox clergy of the area as well as to spend some time with the catechumens of the mission who are preparing for the Holy Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation into the Holy Orthodox Church.
After Bishop Daniel met with the visiting clergy to the mission and the candidates for Subdeacon and Reader of the Church, seminarian of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary Subdeacon Andriy Matlak, who accompanied His Grace on his visit to NM, led a workshop for the readers and chanters of the mission community.
On Saturday evening, the bishop presided over Vespers, following which His Grace delivered a sermon to those in attendance reflecting upon the Lenten journey of an Orthodox Christian in the world of the 21st century and compared it to the faithful life and journey of the numerous fathers and mothers of the Church from the early times of Christianity. A beautiful Lenten meal was prepared by the faithful of the parish for dinner with the eparchial bishop. A beautiful surprise of the evening was a visit by some local university students who met Fr. Gabriel at the OCF table on the campus of New Mexico State University and who came to meet the bishop and to inquire about Holy Orthodoxy. However, a surprise was presented to them, when both Fr. Gabriel and the Bishop Daniel reached out to the students and spent a substantial amount of time answering their questions about the Faith and guiding them in a better understanding of the precepts of the Holy Orthodox Church.
On Sunday morning, the bishop was greeted at the entrance to the mission temple by the pastor of the community Fr. Gabriel and the mission board president Mrs. Joni Foglesong, who offered an inspiring welcome message to the bishop. His Grace responded with a short reflection, stating that this particular mission community is very close to his heart, as it is one of the first communities that he visited as a newly consecrated bishop of the Church about three years ago, and since then it has been a tradition to visit the mission at least once a year.
Prior to the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, His Grace Bishop Daniel set aside and tonsured Steven Foglesong as a Reader and Kenyon Theophan Mackey as a Subdeacon of the mission community. The bishop addressed both of them with words of spiritual parental instructions pertaining to the call of ministry among the faithful of the mission. In addition, Bishop Daniel offered his blessing to Subdeacon Theophan Mackey to begin seminary training at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, PA.
In his sermon, Vladyka Daniel reflected upon the “forgotten” virtue of Patience – the Gift of the Holy Spirit, which must be nurtured in a personal journey of a Christian. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Fr. Gabriel introduced Fr Dc David and Matushka Marilyn Mascarenas and Monk Herman, who were visitors for the day. Following the liturgical service, the mission family gathered once again for an Agape meal at which the bishop provided an update on the various ministries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA both on the North American continent and in Ukraine. The faithful showed their interest in the ministry of All Saints Church Camp in Emlenton, PA, as well as the missionary projects of the Church in the orphanages of Ukraine.
The day concluded with a meeting of His Grace Bishop Daniel with the mission board of administration, at which the bishop offered his guidance as to the future work and ministry of St. Anthony of the Desert Ukrainian Orthodox Mission in Las Cruces, NM.