UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
2012 College Age Mission Team Departs for Annual Trip to Ukrainian Orphanages!
Once again this year, reflecting upon the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: “'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”, the college age students of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA prayerfully responded to our Lord’s call and offered themselves to serve as Mission Team Members of the UOC of the USA to the Ukrainian Orphanages during the August 2-19, 2012.
A great American Civil rights movement leader Martin Luther King Jr. once said “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity”. Keeping these words in mind, nine missionaries under the leadership of His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA and Olga Coffey, a member of the Council of Metropolia, were commissioned to journey to the Church sponsored orphanages in Puhachiv, Zhytomyr region and Znamyanka, Kirovohrad region of Ukraine. Attending the Commissioning Prayer Service with Vladyka Daniel were Very Rev. Fr. Myron Oryhon of Protection of the Birth-Giver of God (St. Mary) Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Allentown, PA; Very Rev. Petro Fr. Levko of St. George Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Yardville, NJ; Rev. Fr. Michael Hontaruk of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH; Rev. Fr. ivan Synevskyy of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Johnson City, NY and Deacon Vasyl Dovgan of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary in South bound Brook, NJ. The entire staff of the Consistory of the UOC of the USA attended the service as well and participated in prayers for the spiritual success of the Church’s missionaries.
The orphanages in Ukraine, adopted by the UOC of the USA, house special needs children with major physical and mental disabilities, ranging in age from 3-18. The team will be in Ukraine through August 19th. While in Ukraine they will spend time ministering to the children by providing them special opportunities such as field trips, physical therapy sessions, educational opportunities as well as daily prayer services with the bishop and a Holy Unction service prior to Team’s departure for Ukraine. The main focus of the missionaries is to show the face of Christ to the children and help to improve their quality of life.
This year’s team in comprised of: Subdeacon Vasyl Pasakas (St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary; South Bound Brook, NJ), Melania Panasiuk (St. Vladimir Ukrainian orthodox Cathedral; Philadelphia, PA), Krista Ulbright (Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Youngstown, OH), Sandro Gomartelli and Eugene Hobza (Holy Dormition (St. Mary) Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Jones, OK), Alexandra Teper (Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Woonsocket, RI), John Siwko (St. Andrew the First-Called Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church; South Bound Brook, NJ), Britney Wanek (Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Palos Park, IL) and Hunter Steltenpohl (St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Arden Hills, MN).
In his welcoming remarks to the Church’s Mission Team, Vladyka Daniel posed a rhetorical question: “What is Life? If you ask twenty people that question, you’ll probably get twenty different answers. However, as Orthodox Christians, we believe that life is about more than just what you have. We also believe it’s about more than just what you’ve accomplished. We believe that real life is about relationships. Relationships with your family, friends and neighbors. Relationships with people who accept the real you. Relationships with a group of friends you can truly trust. Most importantly, real life is about having a fulfilling relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I hope and pray that being a member of this year’s Mission Team to Ukrainian orphanages you were learn something about yourself as well, especially about your relationship with the world around you, and most importantly – with your Creator…”
Prior to their departure on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012, the Mission Team of the Church, assisted by the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary Subdeacons Ivan chopko and Yurii Andreiko packed about fifteen boxes of humanitarian aid to Ukrainian orphanages and various charitable institutions, totaling in 500 pounds. The boxes were shipped to Ukraine the same evening.
We ask that you keep this year’s team, the children and staff of the orphanages in your prayers.
An update of the team’s activities will be available at the Consistory website (www.uocofusa.org) after their August 19th return. In addition, follow the UOC of USA’s Facebook page for the routine updates from Ukraine during the Mission Trip.