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Theophany Celebrations with Bishop Daniel in Chicago Deanery!

Christ is Baptized! In the Jordan!

On the eve of the feast-day of Theophany (January 18) Ukrainian Orthodox Christians from across Chicago Metropolitan area gathered at Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bensenville, IL to celebrate the traditional Theophany Eve and the Great Blessing of the Water. This event is part of Theophany/Epiphany celebrations by Orthodox Christians around the world and this year it was organized by Chicago Deanery of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and graciously hosted by the parishioners of Holy Trinity parish.

Prior to the evening services of the day, the clergy of Chicago Deanery gathered for their annual Deanery meeting.  After hearing a report from the Dean – Very Rev. Fr. Bohdan Kalynuk, receiving updates on Deanery activities, and discussing the ongoing parish ministry initiatives, the clergy began discussion on the planning of the upcoming events in the life of the Deanery, among which: a pilgrimage to the Holy City of Jerusalem in October of 2012, Annual Altar Servers Conference in the summer of 2012, Camping ministries of the UOC of the USA, High School and College Mission Trips, participation in the annual Sunday of Orthodoxy Pan-Orthodox Vespers, at which His Grace Bishop Daniel is scheduled to deliver a homily, a Retreat for married Couples, in addition to a number of community centered and spiritually oriented events that will take place throughout the year.

Following the meeting, His Grace Bishop Daniel accompanied by the priests and deacons of the Deanery joined each other for Great Compline service and the Great Blessing of Water at Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bensenville, IL. Very Rev. Bohdan Kalynuyk – Chicago Deanery Dean and pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Bensenville, IL; Archimandrite Pankratij of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, IL; Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sendeha of Sts. Peter and Paul UOC in Palos Park, IL; Rev. Fr. Walter Hwostik of Protection of the Mother of God UOC in Milwaukee, WI; Rev. Fr. Silouan Rolando of Holy Trinity UOC in Goshen, IN; Protodeacon Andrij Fronchak of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox cathedral, Chicago, IL; Deacon James Stickel of Holy Trinity UOC in Goshen, IN and Deacon John Charest of Sts. Peter and Paul parish in Palos Park, IL  joined the bishop for the prayer service. About 200 people, representing various parishes of the Deanery, gathered that evening to partake in the service of Great Compline and the Blessing of Water, served by their bishop and clergy.

“We’re blessing the waters as a physical reminder of the responsibility we have to care for the earth,” said the bishop. “Each year, we place a cross into the waters asking Jesus Christ to send down the Holy Spirit for the cleansing and sanctification of the water… The triple miracle which took place on this occasion — the opening of the heavens, the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and the testimony of God the Father — completely convinced Saint John that Jesus Christ was the awaited Messiah. The visible descent of the Holy Spirit on the Messiah was exactly what Saint John was waiting for, because at the very beginning, when he was sent to preach as a prophet, God told him: "Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit." Consequently, from that moment John the Baptist could unmistakably and without the slightest doubt testify to all that Jesus is the Messiah and the Lamb of God that takes upon Himself the sins of the world. Soon after the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, John sent some of his disciples to Him: the brothers Andrew (the First-called Apostle) and Peter and the brothers James and John (the Theologian). They joined Christ and became His first disciples and apostles… The Feast of the Theophany, or the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, is, along with Pascha, one of the most ancient Christian holidays. It is dedicated to our Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan River. From ancient times Christians celebrated this feast day with great enthusiasm, because it reminded them of their own baptism and stirred them to a deeper consciousness of the power of this Mystery… As we celebrate today the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan, let us thank God for the free gift of salvation through the grace of baptism. Let us also earnestly ask him for the grace to keep us faithful to our baptismal promises to say no to Satan and all his false promises and to say yes to God even unto death.”

Following the liturgical services, everyone in attendance gathered in a social hall of the Holy Trinity parish for a traditional Holy Supper meal, which consisted of 12 festive dishes, skillfully prepared by the parishioners of the parish family and the parish sisterhood.

On January 19, 2012, St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, IL was blessed with a visit from His Grace Bishop Daniel, for the feast of Holy Theophany. His Grace concelebrated the services with Archimandrite Pankratij, Very Rev. Andriy Shelvakh and Protoseacon Andriy Fronchak – the clergy of the cathedral parish community, and a good contingent of parishioners who admirably made the effort to take off work and school to participate in the feast. The cathedral choir was directed by Maestro Volodymyr Popowych.

The feeling of festal joy was palpable as the hymns of Theophany were sung in the candlelit church; as His Grace blessed the temple; and as the parishioners prayerfully greeted their archpastor and drank deeply of the newly-blessed waters. All appreciated the time Vladyka spent with the parish, manifesting the episcopal ministry through his prayer, teaching, encouragement, and fellowship, and especially on this, the Great Feast of Theophany.

Theophany Celebrations with Bishop Daniel in Chicago Deanery! - 01/19/12

Theophany Celebrations with Bishop Daniel in Chicago Deanery!

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Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
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