UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Parish Celebrates 75th Anniversary!
His Eminence Metropolitan Antony traveled to the last parish he served as priest before his consecration as a hierarch of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church – St. Michael Parish in Hammond, IN for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the parish’s organization in 1937. The celebration took place on 18 November on a bright Fall day with the participation of many visitors from neighboring parishes – in particular, Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Palos Park, IL.
Anna Wozniak, Parish Board of Administration, John Lenhart, Vice-President, greeted the Metropolitan with traditional Bread and Salt, along with two young girls with flowers at the entrance to the Church. V. Rev. Fr. Raymond Sunland welcomed His Eminence and asked him to pray for all the faithful of the parish, his predecessors and all the founders, benefactors, members and visitors who participated in the life of the parish through the decades.
Joining in the celebration of Divine Liturgy were neighboring clergy: V. Rev. George Hawryliuk, retired priest of the Carpatho-Russian Diocese, Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sendeha, Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Palos Park, IL, Fr. Mark Swindle, Holy Virgin Parish, Arnold, PA (a son of St. Michael Parish), Fr. Mykola Dilendorf, attached to St. Volodymyr Cathedral, Chicago, IL and Deacon John Charest, Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Palos Park, IL, along with the parish altar servers and seminarian Subdeacon Yurij Andreiko, who accompanied the Metropolitan for the celebration. The parish choir of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Palos Park under the direction of George Cypynsky beautifully sang for the Liturgy as a gift of love to their brothers and sisters of St. Michael Parish.
During his homily, the Metropolitan spoke of the importance of history of the parish in defining who the members of today are as Orthodox Christians. It is important to remember from where and from whom we came to be able to comprehend where we need to go in the future. He reminded the faithful that their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents sacrificed much to build a beautiful home of worship for them and for their children and that the parish membership of today must identify with this willingness to sacrifice – or in other words – to love – not only one another but those in the community around them who have no place to worship or who are literally starving to death in search of the spiritual nourishment they have never known in their lives. The parish family members must be conscientious about how they raise their own children and grandchildren, instilling in them the same love of God and for His Holy Church that their parents instilled in them. History is important, but we must comprehend that all our history leads us in one direction – to unity with God – Theosis – the ultimate destination of our life.
Following Liturgy a Panakhyda was served commemorating all the victims of the genocidal famine – the Holodomor – perpetrated by Josef Stalin against the Ukrainian people – with 7 to 10 million people murdered by starvation – every grain of wheat having been taken away from them by agents of the Soviet regime. This year is the 80th anniversary of this human horror, which can never be forgotten, lest it happen again. A group photograph was taken following the veneration of the Holy Cross and Fr. Raymond invited all present to the parish social hall for a banquet and program celebration the 75th anniversary. Fr. Mark Swindle served as the Master of Ceremonies for the program. He introduce the head table guests and the clergy who were able to join the celebration after concluding services in their own churches: Fr. Howard Sloan, retired from our Ukrainian Orthodox Church and now living in Florida; Fr. Silouan Rolando, Holy Trinity Parish, Goshen, IN and Fr. Paul Martin, formerly of our Diocese and now serving in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
Fr. Mark introduced His Eminence Metropolitan Antony recalling his years of service as the parish priest in St. Michael Parish and enumerating the accomplishments made during that period. He also recalled how “Father John” forced him to come out of his shell and begin to read the Epistle during Divine Liturgy and when he left the parish to become bishop Antony, he told the young Mark that a place is reserved in St. Sophia Seminary for him – which Mark thought would never happen, but when the Lord called it was impossible for him to refuse.
Metropolitan Antony responded by relating a story about his predecessor as parish priest, V. Rev. Paul Darmoc, who had served the parish for 34 years. Fr. John was visiting the parish with then bishop of Chicago, Constantine, during its construction and after the tour Fr. Paul pointed a finger at him (Fr. John) and said: “You will be my successor here.” Fr. John also laughed because he was happy in his first parish in Ambridge, PA. Two years later he was the pastor of St. Michael Parish. The Metropolitan spoke of the many people with whom he worked during the ten years he served in the parish and how he had everyone frozen in his mind as they were when he left the parish 27 years earlier. He spoke of his joy at having the opportunity to be with them during the celebration and urged the faithful present, whether members of St. Michael parish, Sts. Peter and Paul parish or any other parish, that they have a sacred responsibility to “be Christ” to a very secularized world and to a sometimes very dark world that concentrates on death rather than the sanctity of life and on the negative rather than on the positive that God provides for us.
Parish President Anna Wozniak expressed her own gratitude and that of the Parish Board of Administration to Fr. Ray and all those who worked so hard to make the 75th anniversary celebration successful and enjoyable. Fr. Raymond concluded the program thanking His Eminence for his willingness to “come home” for the celebration along with all the clergy who joined the celebration and all the visitors from Chicago area parishes and neighboring Christian communities. The final note in the program was a surprise anniversary cake brought forward to honor Metropolitan Antony at the 40th anniversary of his priestly ordination, which will be on 26 November – less than ten days away. The clergy and faithful sang a heartfelt Mnohaya Lita for the Metropolitan before he dove into the sugar free cake baked for him by one of the parish members.