UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
40 YEARS OF DEVOTION HONORED
Metropolitan Constantine celebrates the 40th anniversary of his episcopal consecration with clergy and faithful from around the nation and the world!
It was a most joyful occasion in Western Pennsylvania over the weekend of 18-20 May as hundreds of Orthodox clergy and faithful gathered at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Carnegie, PA and Dormition of the Mother of God – St. Mary Parish, McKees Rocks, PA to express their love, respect and appreciation to our Prime Hierarch, Metropolitan Constantine, who celebrated the 40th anniversary of his consecration to the episcopacy of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox of the USA and the 45th anniversary of his priestly service to Christ’s flock.
The two weeks prior to the celebration were a time of great tension and uncertainty because the Metropolitan was suddenly taken to hospital and placed immediately in the intensive care unit. His condition was updated throughout that time on our church website so that the thousands who were praying for his rapid recovery would be fully aware of the need for that prayer to continue. By virtue of those prayers and the Grace of God, that condition improved on a daily basis and he was released from hospital two days prior to the scheduled celebration. One could hear the anticipation in his voice and the return of his positive spirit in each succeeding conversation with the Metropolitan. We want to share with our readers the positive effect that the Internet can have – when utilized properly! When we first posted the news of his hospitalization on the Church website and Facebook page, we sat in the office watching as literally hundreds of responses came in – sometimes in bunches at a time – assuring the Metropolitan of sincere prayer and much love. Those numbers just continued to rise as those who read the news posted it on their own pages. It was truly a blessing to behold and we thank all who responded in writing and in private prayer!
The 40th anniversary celebration began on Friday evening, 18 May, at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Carnegie, PA in Carnegie, PA where V. Rev. Stephen Repa is the parish priest. A Moleben for the health of Metropolitan Constantine was served in Church with many clergy and faithful present. A reception followed in the parish social center. We were worried that two gatherings so soon after the release from hospital would be too taxing for his condition, but the Metropolitan insisted on continuing with the plan. The reception was his idea and his way of thanking everyone for their prayers and support. He knew that during the official celebration of the Liturgy and the Agape Feast to follow, he would have little opportunity to simply sit and have personal conversations with his clergy and faithful. He wanted this time when there would be no rush to be in one place or another. Just one day after his hospital release, His Beatitude was weak, but thoroughly enjoyed the evening!
Divine Liturgy was celebrated the next day – 19 May – at St. Mary Church in McKees Rocks, PA, where V. Rev. Timothy Tomson is parish priest. Fr. Tim and his parish volunteered to host this official celebration because of their love for our Metropolitan and desire to properly recognize his service to his spiritual children. Four hierarchs, including His Eminence Metropolitan Yurij of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, His Eminence Archbishop Jeremiah of our South American Ukrainian Orthodox Eparchy, and our own Archbishop Antony and Bishop Daniel concelebrated the Liturgy and His Grace Bishop Melchesedek of the Western PA Diocese of the Orthodox Church of America was present and communing.
Assisting the hierarchs were the following Deans and visiting clergy: V. Rev. Timothy Tomson, pastor of the host parish; Dean Protopresbyter George Hnatko, Western PA Deanery; Dean Protopresbyter Taras Chubenko, NY-NJ Deanery; V. Rev. Dennis Kristof, Penn-Ohio Deanery; V. Rev. Bohdan Kalynyuk, Chicago Deanery; V. Rev. Harry Linzinbigler, Florida Deanery; V. Rev. Bohdan Matwijczuk, President of the Consistory, Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Great Britain and V. Rev. Vitalij Derewianka, pastor of St. Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, Genk, Belgium, along with Protodeacon Dr. Ihor Mahlay of St. Vladimir Cathedral, Parma, OH. Assisting in the Altar were seminarian Subdeacons Andrij Matlak, Vasyl Pasakas, Vasyl Dovhan, Philip Herendza, Adrian Mazur, Ioan Mazur and seminarian Yurij Andreyko. The choir singing responses for Divine Liturgy was composed of members from several parishes in the Pittsburgh area and was under the direction of Dobrobiyka Svitlana Tomson. Metropolitan Constantine was most appreciative of the fact that the choir sang most of his favorite liturgical compositions. It was a very rewarding spiritual experience to hear what can be offered to God by the simple human voices gathered together!
During his homily, Archbishop Antony spoke of the apostolic ministry of which Metropolitan Constantine has been an integral part over the past 40 years and the importance of that ministry to not only our Ukrainian Orthodox Church but to the entire Christian world and beyond. Christ is the Head of the Church – His Body – and the clergy are the heart of the Church and have been entrusted with Heavenly responsibilities and clearly defined by St. John Chrysostom and Metropolitan Constantine has been a faithful example of dedication and devotion to fulfilling those responsibilities. He has never “place his light under a bushel”, but has “let it shine brightly before men, that they might see his good works and give glory to our Father who is in Heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16). The Archbishop stated that the Metropolitan never forgot that all he accomplished was “through Christ’s authority and not his own and by the strength of Christ sanctified souls in His name, continuing Christ’s deeds and His cause. As Christ was ONE with the Father and His Apostles, so Metropolitan Constantine has served Christ’s flock with which he is entrusted – serving to the point of sacrifice.”
Following the homily, the Archbishop, who during Holy Week had participated in the consecration of Holy Chrism at the Patriarchate of Constantinople with His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, had the honor of reading a very personal and laudatory greeting and presenting to Metropolitan Constantine a gift from the Patriarch of a beautiful Panagia bearing the image of the Holy Trinity. When the Panagia was placed around the neck of Metropolitan Constantine the clergy and faithful responded spontaneously with “Axios! Axios! Axios! – “He is worthy!” His Beatitude was visibly moved by the honor bestowed upon him and the kind words of Patriarch Bartholomew.
The entire congregation of clergy and faithful moved on following Liturgy to the famous LeMont Restaurant on Mt. Washington in downtown Pittsburgh. The entire wall of the room where the Agape Feast took place consists of glass and provides an astoundingly beautiful view for the nearly 250 guests of the entire city below – precisely where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers flow together and form the Ohio River. The city’s sports stadiums and all the magnificent architectural structures are visible from this point of view. The Metropolitan wanted this to be the site of the banquet so that the many visitors could see his beloved Pittsburgh. His Beatitude has always been the best ambassador the city has had wherever he goes!
Metropolitan Yurij thanked Metropolitan Constantine for his leadership of the Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops beyond the Borders of Ukraine and for his efforts during the rebirth of the Church in Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukrainian’s proclamation of independence. Bishop Jeremiah thanked His Beatitude for his fatherly advice and support in the South American Eparchy and invited him to visit the eparchy, hopefully at the next Sobor in 2013. Bishop Melchesedak praised him as a hierarch who is always willing to share his knowledge and experience with the newly consecrated hierarchs like himself rather than leave them to struggle on their own.
Very Rev. Fr. Bohdan Kalynyuk, a pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bensenville, IL and a Dean of Chicago Deanery presented a beautiful set of vestments in behalf of the Chicago Deanery and a matching miter from the West Coast Deanery of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA. Fr. Bohdan Matwijczuk presented a beautifully written icon of the Metropolitan’s patron saint, Constantine, from the faithful of Great Britain. Fr. Vitalij Derewianka presented a gift from the faithful of Belgium.
Greetings were presented by Protopresbyter John Gido from the Carpatho-Russian Church, V. Rev. Frank Firko from the Byzantine Catholic Church and Mark Czesnakowicz, representing His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of the USA. Archbishop Antony expressed the warm greetings of Bishop Basil Losten of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, who telephone from the airport in Connecticut early that morning very disappointed that a mechanical problem with his aircraft and the cancelation of his flight prevented him from being present. Dobrodiyka Mary Ann Nakonachny, First Vice-President of the Ukrainian Orthodox League of the USA, represented President Martha Misko and announced the creation of a scholarship fund in the name of Metropolitan Constantine to be presented annually to a seminarian of St. Sophia Seminary. Protodeacon Dr. Ihor Mahlay, President of St. Andrew Society, presented a gift in behalf of the Society’s membership. St. Sophia Seminary students presented a beautiful hierarchal walking stick to assist the Metropolitan.
Larissa Kocelko, niece of the Metropolitan, spoke to the participants in behalf of his family, expressing sincere gratitude to all for – most importantly – their prayers during his recent illness, which she believes were responsible for saving his life. She thanked the Church for honoring her uncle because she knows the depth of his commitment and love for his Church and for God Almighty.
Archbishop Antony, who served as Master of Ceremonies for the event, presented greetings received from many, many hierarchs from around the world expressing their respect for the contributions of Metropolitan Constantine has made in the Name of our Lord throughout his episcopacy. Among them were the Metropolitans of the Ukrainian Catholic Churches in the USA and Canada, who along with all the Eastern Catholic hierarchs around the world, were called to Rome for meetings. His Eminence Archbishop Ihor of Kharkiv, Ukraine expressed the in his letter the sincere love and gratitude of the faithful of Ukraine to Metropolitan Constantine who serves as their Spiritual Father. A special greeting was read from Archpriest Myroslaw Krischuk of Albert, Canada, a classmate of Metropolitan Constantine at St. Andrew Seminary in Winnipeg, Canada.
A special treat for the Metropolitan was a performance of the Kyiv Dance Ensemble sponsored by Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Carnegie, PA under the direction of Natalie Kapeluck – the Director of the Consistory Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The traditional welcome dance and the lively Hopak literally shook the building, which is built on stilts on a high cliff on Mt. Washington! The joy in the Metropolitan’s face in watching the performance was wonderful to see.
Bishop Daniel personally greeted his Beatitude as one born several months after his episcopal consecration! He expressed his deep gratitude for the trust the Metropolitan has placed in him since the day his Beatitude nominated him as bishop at our Church Sobor four years ago. Moreover, the bishop recalled the words of instructions that Metropolitan shared with then newly consecrated bishop in 2008 and called upon him to serve the flock of Christ. Bishop Daniel further had the honor, at the request of Ukraine’s Ambassador – His Excellency Oleksander Motsyk – of presenting a Certificate of Honor – the highest award of the Ukrainian Embassy – to the Metropolitan for his continuous efforts in service to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Nation and her people. Bishop Daniel also presented the greetings the Consul General of Ukraine in New York City, Serhij Pohoreltev, and of Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, His Excellency Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev.
During his personal remarks while introducing our honored celebrant – Metropolitan Constantine – Archbishop Antony spoke of the 46 years he has known the Metropolitan – first as Subdeacon Ted Buggan, Chairman of the Ukrainian Orthodox League’s Clergy Candidate Commission and Metropolitan John (Theodorovich) Scholarship Fund – and all the way through the present day. He spoke of the guidance and abilities of His Beatitude with which all present agreed and thanked him for the example he has set for all hierarchs and clergy in his dedication and devotion to Christ our Lord and His Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church in his willingness to stand firm in Christ’s teachings and for the rights of Ukrainian Orthodoxy at many very difficult times within the family of Orthodox Churches and under the suppression of the Communist regimes.
Finally, our celebrant arose to speak to those who love him. As stated earlier, there was much concern about whether or not the Metropolitan’s physical condition would be strong enough to enable his full participation in the day’s celebration – especially being out of the hospital for only two days. Our fears were for naught – it seems that rather than become weakened by the day long festivities, the Metropolitan was invigorated by them! His voice was strong and he spoke of the “finger of the Lord” experienced throughout his life – placing him in position to witness to Christ and to reach Christ or new levels of spirituality beyond all of his expectations. When he found himself doubting or questioning what his next step should be, a door always opened and/or and individual came forth to provide necessary guidance or passage along the way.
His Beatitude spoke of the individuals who profoundly influenced his life from seminary days up to the present moment. He shared his deep and abiding love for the youth of the church and his joy in participation in events during youth or young adult encampments at All Saints Camp. He was most thankful that God allowed him to be so instrumental in making possible the construction of St. Thomas Chapel at the Camp. He thanked all the hierarchs, clergy and faithful present for the honor they bestowed upon him in honoring his service to God and asked for their continued prayers for his good health and assured all present and beyond of his prayers in their behalf. At the end of the Metropolitan’s remarks, our seminarians went around to guest tables to present a gift of a lapel cross to each participant from the Metropolitan as a small gift to remember the day by.
It was pure joy on both Friday evening and following the Agape Feast to witness as hundreds of individuals came forth to express their love to the Metropolitan and thank him for his service to God and his friendship for them. Among them were people from parishes all over the USA, the members of his family and so pleasing to him – his classmates and friends from elementary school through high school, university and seminary. The Metropolitan in some way touched the individual lives of each person present at the 40th anniversary celebration and he was visibly moved by their presence and support. May God grant him continued progression toward permanent good health and many, many more years of service in His Holy Name.
NA MNOHI LITA, VLADYKO! ESPOLA ETI DESPOTA!