UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
St. Andrew Feast Day in Greater Washington, DC!
For the Ukrainian community in the Greater Washington, DC, area, St. Andrew Feast Day, as celebrated by St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, is known to be quite a celebration. These joyous celebrations comprise of many wonderful spiritual and cultural elements and are known to welcome some very important guests and many, many parishioners and friends.
On Sunday, December 11, 2011, at 10 a.m., Ukrainian Ambassador Olexander Motsyk, embassy staff, many guests and parishioners filled the church to capacity. The choir, led by Gregory Oleynik; children bearing flowers; Cathedral Board of Administration President Dr. Tamara Woroby, Sisterhood President Nadia Kolesnyk and Past-President Sonia Krawec, bearing the traditional bread and salt, along with Cathedral Priest, V. Rev. Fr. Volodymyr Steliac and retired parish priest, Protopresbyter Hryhoryj Podhoretz, greeted His Eminence Archbishop Antony, who was escorted to the Church by Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay, three Subdeacons (seminarians Andrij Matlak, Ioan Mazur and Adrian Mazur and seminarian Yurij Andreyko and many altar boys. Protodeacon SviatoslavNowytski, although unable to serve, was also present at the Liturgy.
The symbiotic and profound prayers offered up from the altar, the choir loft and the nave of the Church were out of this world, reflecting what indeed we are to experience as we enter in the Heavenly Kingdom during Divine Liturgy. Archbishop Antony spoke in his sermon about the need to celebrate the Patron Feast Day of the parish by making important choices about who and what we are. We must reflect God’s love into the lives of others and make the cathedral church a haven for those seeking Christ in a very dangerous and secularized world. The bishop reminded all present that at the moment of their baptism into the Faith, the priest prayed that God would assign them a Guardian Angel, who would be their guide throughout life, through whom God would speak to them. Throughout all the liturgical services of the Church we pray to God asking for an “angel of peace, a faithful guide and guardian for our souls and bodies”. He called upon all present to remember that the ONLY mission of Christ’s Church – our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church – is the salvation of souls. Nothing of any nature may interfere with or supersede this mission. We all must take our rightful place in accomplishing this mission – regardless of our status in society and regardless of the our comprehension of our talents. To those who are faithful to the mission and willing to serve, much will be given through the Holy Spirit.
A very moving moment of the Liturgy came when a youth choir led by Panimatka Marta Steliac sang an ancient version of the Lord’s Prayer, which the Archbishop heard for the first time in the Ukrainian Orthodox Vicariate of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Romania, during the consecration of a renovated Cathedral back in 1997. He heard this beautiful hymn sung by over six thousand people and to hear the youth sing it again literally brought tears to the eyes of Archbishop Antony and the faithful present.
At the end of the Liturgy His Eminence greeted Fr. Volodymyr on the occasion of his tenth anniversary as pastor of St. Andrew Cathedral. The Archbishop had the opportunity to dine with the parish board on Saturday evening and was moved by their united expression of their gratitude for the appointment of Fr. Volodymyr as their parish priest. His Eminence reflected on the fundamental transformation and extensive growth of the parish under Fr. Volodymyr’s leadership.
After the Liturgy everyone was invited to St. Andrew Parish Social Center, where another moment of awe greeted the guests, the hall elegantly decorated and the appetizer table bountiful. Mindful that this Feast Day takes place during Christmas Lent, the Sisterhood prepared a most delicious fresh salmon with crabmeat and shrimp dinner, accompanied by imaginative salads, side dishes, and a tiramisu dessert and selected wines that made the dinner most memorable. Although there was no charge for this elegant dinner, the parishioners and guests nevertheless provided generous and heartfelt donations.
During the banquet program Board President, Tamara Woroby announced the recipients of the parish’s annual awards to parishioners who exemplified the true spirit of Ukrainian Orthodoxy and faithfulness to the mission of the Church. The “Lifetime Achievement Award” was presented to Olena Varvariv by his Eminence Archbishop Antony in behalf of the whole parish, for her life long contributions and example of devotion to the Cathedral Parish of St. Andrew. She was described by her Spiritual Father as one who cared about those who strayed away from the Church and always encouraged Father to reach out to them. The “Parishioner of the Year Award” was presented by His Eminence to Hanja Cherniak for her significant contributions to the parish during the past year, above and beyond the call of duty including her continued service as parish treasurer and her untiring, active participation and leadership in parish events. Ambassador Motsyk greeted Fr. Steliac at his tenth anniversary in the parish and thanked him for his leadership in the Ukrainian community of Greater Washington, D.C. and his support of Ukrainian Embassy programs and events. The Ambassador thanked the parish for its open and welcoming atmosphere for all who enter its doors. Priests from the Ukrainian Catholic parishes were also present and greeted Fr. Volodymyr and the parish.
Sisterhood President Nadia Kolesnyk presented three checks to the Archbishop for important Funds in the life of the Church: $1,000 for our History and Education Complex Museum, $1,000 for St. Sophia Seminary and $1,000 for assistance in making repairs to several buildings at the Metropolia Center following damage caused by hurricane Irene. The Bingo Workers group – even though Bingo no longer exists in the parish – still supports the parish and our Church. Mr. George Czumak, President of the Group presented a check for $1,000 to the Archbishop to be utilized for the same three purposes.
Parish children rounded out the day’s program as they performed Christmas carols and danced a charming Ukrainian dance, entertaining a most appreciative and large crowd of parishioners and guests present. Fr. Volodymyr closed the program with the official expressions of gratitude to all who participated in the celebration, to the Sisterhood for a wonderful mean, to all who participated in any way in the preparations for the day. Everyone felt the day was spiritually uplifting and, as the events drew to a close, left with wonderful memories of an amazing day.