UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
Archpastoral Palm Sunday Visit to St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Arden Hills, MN!
On the Sunday before the Feast of Great and Holy Pascha and at the beginning of Holy Week, the Orthodox Church celebrates one of its most joyous feasts of the year. Palm Sunday is the commemoration of the Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem following His glorious miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. Having anticipated His arrival and having heard of the miracle, the people when out to meet the Lord and welcomed Him with displays of honor and shouts of praise. On this day, the Orthodox Christians receive and worship Christ in this same manner, acknowledging Him as our King and Lord. To celebrate this great feast of the Church year St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Arden Hills, MN was blessed to welcome among their midst their spiritual father and the ruling hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA – His Grace Bishop Daniel.
The bishop, assisted by a seminarian of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary subdeacon Vasyl Dovgan, arrived to Minnesota on Friday night, as faithful of the parish family ended their Lenten journey and were spiritually entering into the observance of Lazarus Saturday as well as the festivities of Palm Sunday, during which Vladyka Daniel blessed a newly renewed iconography on the parish icon screen.
Very Rev. Petro Siwko, a pastor of St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox parish greeted the bishop on behalf of the parish board of administration as well as the faithful of the parish family. Outside of the liturgical services of the weekend, the bishop had a chance to briefly meet with the parish board of administration as well as to visit Very Rev. Fr. Nicholas Metulynsky, an emeritus of the parish community.
Saturday evening brought numerous parishioners to a Vespers service, following which Bishop Daniel shared with the faithful and visitors to the parish family his reflections on the meaning of a Lenten journey as well as the spiritual importance of the Holy Week journey in preparation to the Bright Feast of Pascha. The entire congregation was blessed to share in a Lenten Agape meal prepared by the parishioners of the parish, especially Vasyl Kushneryk, the Sous Chef at Ameriprise Financial, Minneapolis, MN, in honor of their bishop.
The morning of Palm Sunday brought hundreds of faithful and especially young people and children to the doors of the parish temple as they formally welcomed to the parish family their bishop. The children with flowers, the representatives of the parish board of administration with the traditional salt and bread, the choir members with beautiful chanting and the pastor of the parish Fr. Petro Siwko offered words of their sincerest welcome to the bishop, who arrived to the parish temple, bringing smiles and joy, while offering the words of encouragement to those in attendance. The President of the Parish Board of Administration Sviatoslav Mirza thanked the bishop for his Archpastoral visit to the parish and kindly (with the sincere smile on his face) noticed that it is a tradition now in MN to snow, when the bishop comes to visit, to which Vladyka Daniel stated that the snow has already melted and the sun is out.
Almost the entire parish family approached the Holy Mysteries of Confession and Eucharist, preparing themselves to the final days of the spiritual journey to Pascha. The bishop, in his sermon, reflected upon the meaning of the biblical Palm Sunday events, stating “that each one of us is called to behold our Lord not simply as the One who came to us once riding on a donkey, but as the One who is always present in His Church, coming ceaselessly to us in power and glory at every Eucharist, in every prayer and sacrament, and in every act of love, kindness and mercy.”
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the bishop blessed the new icons on the parish’s Iconostas, calling upon the faithful of the parish to see not only the manmade image of Christ in the iconography, but most importantly to be able to see the image of God in the sacred representations and each other, the living icons of our Lord in His creation.
The very final act of prayer was a presentation of the blessed certificates of appreciation to Oleh and Maya Gregoret, long standing members of St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox parish, who with the dedication and selfless service have served the needs of the congregation. Earlier this year, the pastor of the parish community Fr. Petro Siwko and the entire parish board of administration approached the bishop with a request to bestow such “blessed certificates” upon Oleh and Maya Gregoret.
On both days of liturgical services the parish choir under the skillful leadership of Halyna Myroniuk and Oleksiy Khrystych chanted the sacred responses.
The day concluded with a luncheon in the parish hall, while the annual Pascha sale took place, bring in to the midst of the faithful of the parish family hundreds of visitors from various local Christian communities.
Photos by Olenka Verezovska and Subdeacon Vasyl Dovgan