UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Spil’ne Svyachene (Pascha Agape) at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia, PA
On the Fourth Sunday of Pascha, the parish community of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia, PA was blessed to receive their spiritual father, His Eminence Archbishop Antony in a pastoral visit and to participate in the parish’s annual Spil’ne Svyachene – Paschal Agape. Traveling with the Archbishop and assisting during the Divine Liturgy were two seminarians, Subdeacons Vasyl Pasakas and Ioan Mazur. Our parish Altar Servers also served with the Archbishop. It was also a special weekend for the parish in that the Junior and Senior National Executive Boards of the Ukrainian Orthodox League were hosted by our local Jr. and Sr. UOL Chapters for the Boards’ pre-convention meeting and pre-convention dance. The Convention will be hosted in our Cathedral Parish in July of this year.
V. Rev. Fr. Taras Naumenko, our parish priest, expressed on behalf of the parish sincere gratitude to His Eminence for celebrating Divine Liturgy with the faithful. His Eminence brought with him to Philadelphia a message, reminding each and every one of us, in this hectic society in which we live, to take time to properly communicate with one another. While the conveniences of modern technology may help us in many ways, they have distracted us from truly reaching out to our neighbor in our Christ-centered lives. He recalled the Paralytic in the Sunday Gospel Lesson, who could have simply gone off to live his life – now able to walk and work as a normal person – but he “chose” to go directly to the Temple to offer gratitude to God for his healing. He did not know who Jesus Christ - the one who healed him – was, but was certain that He did heal only by the authority of God and that there was an obligation to offer gratitude in the Temple. The Archbishop asked the faithful to examine their lives to determine how often they have been healed – spiritually, physically and emotionally – in big and small ways and to recall how they reacted – as the Gospel paralytic or as “modern” man, who most likely did not appreciate the blessings received and ignored the necessity of expressing gratitude. His Eminence quoted comedian George Carlin’s reflections just prior to his death, which proclaimed modern man’s incessant search for “more” and “bigger” all to the detriment of interpersonal relationships and comprehension of God’s action in and for our lives.
The Archbishop expressed his deep gratitude to the members of our Cathedral Choir, under the direction of Karen Ferraro, who he said was “spot on” in preparation for the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy and in the spiritual beauty of the hymns and melodies sung. He greeted the members of the UOL National Executive Boards and urged them to put a gallant fight against the secularism of the “modern” world and to stand firm for the Orthodox Christian lifestyle to which we are called. He advised that the members of the Board are leaders in Church life and must always act in that capacity in every aspect of their lives so that they do not cross into hypocrisy – saying one thing and living otherwise. The Archbishop stated clearly that it does matter deeply how we choose to live our lives – and that each one of us is responsible for his or her own choices – all of which will affect the lives of people around us.
Following Divine Liturgy, Archbishop Antony joined the parish in the annual Paschal Agape/Spil'ne Svyachene. He was greeted at the entrance to the parish social center by five beautiful young girls bearing a large Paska bread and magnificent bouquets of flowers. The Archbishop presented each of the girls with one of the roses as a remembrance of the day. The parish Sisterhood worked diligently to prepare the feast in honor of our Lords Resurrection and the Archbishop’s visit. There was an abundance of food and plenty of time for fellowship. Joining in the meal was V. Rev. Volodymyr Khanas, parish priest of Protection of the Mother of God (Pokrova) Parish, Philadelphia. A special moment of the gathering was the presentation by Fr. Taras and Panimatka Laura Naumenko of a birthday cake to Panimatka Irene Estocin, wife of our reposed Spiritual Father, Protopresbyter Frank Estocin, who celebrated her birthday the day before our celebration. Panimatka Irene continues to serve on of Cathedral Board of Administration.