UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Truly Blessed Day in Palos Park, IL!
By Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sendeha
On Sunday March 17, long awaited day has come to Sts. Peter and Paul Parish family in Palos Park, IL. It was truly a great and blessed day! The parish family has celebrated not one or two, but four happy occasions. First joyful occasion was a visit of the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy and President of Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA - His Grace Bishop Daniel. However, this time his visit was extraordinary. He has come to provide spiritual guidance to his South Side Chicago flock of the faithful, to ordain three altar servers to Sun-Deaconate and bestow his special blessing upon three young boys, who were just starting their service at the altar. His Grace has come accompanied by the newly ordained Deacon Vasyl Pasakas, who has traveled with the Bishop to celebrate his first Divine Liturgy as a Deacon.
Beautiful sunshine greeted parishioners of Sts. Peter and Paul as they were entering Holy Temple before the Liturgy. The smoke from the censors held by deacons, aroma of flowers mangled by joyfully chattering kids, who were awaiting with anticipation on the arrival of His Grace Bishop Daniel, elated the happy celebration.
His Grace Bishop Daniel was greeted at the Church traditionally with bread presented to him by the parish council secretary - Anatol Bilyk. Noreen Neswick - president of the parish council greeted bishop with flowers and welcoming words. The teacher Aileen Rak greeted His Grace on behalf of the teachers and children of Sunday School. One after the other children with reverence, very serious faces and some caution though have speechlessly given flowers to His Grace. When Bishop Daniel offered a group hug, - the ice broke, serious looks melted and kids cheeringly clang to His Grace almost knocking him down to the floor.
At the narthex of the Church, Bishop Daniel was greeted by the Pastor of the parish Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sendeha and two visiting priests: Fr. Howard Sloan and Fr. Silouan Rolando, and Deacon John Charest. Fr. Vasyl welcomed the bishop, beseeching his Archpastoral prayers for the wellbeing of the parish congregation, while the bishop offered words of gratitude to the pastor, for his dedicated service in the Vineyard of Christ and unconditional love for those that are entrusted into his spiritual care.
Three altar servers: Peter Cepynsky, Peter Iordanov & Jonathan Bezney have been serving at the altar of Sts. Peter and Paul for over a decade. The time has come for them to make a step up in their service and be elevated through ordination. They were found to be eligible candidates for the Holy Orders of Readers/Chanters and Subdeaconate through their dedication and a long time service. The Mystery of Ordination has taken place at the begging of the Divine Liturgy. The prayers of ordination were beseeched the blessing was bestowed by His Grace upon each of the altar servers. Bishop himself helped the newly ordained Sun-deacons to be vested. Ordination was followed by the blessing of three young boys: John & Michael Supilowski and Austin Drewno to begin their service at the altar. What a great scenery! Three older altar servers were reaching their highest positions in minor orders of the servers at the altar, and three young ones were just starting up their service.
The choir’s joyful singing directed by Subdeacon George Cepynsky carried on the celebration. The Gospel was read from Matthew 6:14-21 for the Sunday of Forgiveness. Then the time came for the Bishop’s word, and as He spoke, complete silence filled the pews. Even the anxious kids quieted down. Everyone was carefully listening as their spiritual shepherd preached about the reality of this world. His words were real. He spoke about his life, not an easy life growing up fatherless. With inspirational words of encouragement, His Grace Daniel was exhorting us to ponder upon the true value of forgiveness. He was exhorting us to incorporate Christ words into our lives. The virtue of forgiveness ought to be practiced with great diligence among each other if we want to have peace and tranquility in our community, if we want love to overcome all the tribulations in our relationships and in our lives.
As usual, for the prayer of “Our Father” in Ukrainian, the children has gathered in the back of the church and grabbed their booklets with the words and notes for the prayers. All of them grabbed the booklets, those who can read and those who can’t. Everyone in the church with anticipation waited to hear them sing. Peter Gordan, student of the 6th grade of Sunday School directed the Children’s choir. There are simply no words that would be able to describe the spiritual affection of the children singing the prayer. Their angelic voices spilled out from the back of the church bouncing off of the walls filled the air saturated with aroma of the incense and burning candles. It felt heavenly! It was making you lightheaded…
At the end of the Liturgy, His Grace Bishop Daniel led the congregation in the Service of Forgiveness. All of the clergy knelt on the ambo and asked forgiveness from the faithful. The faithful followed likewise. The service has ended with the faithful asking forgiveness from each other and exchanging hugs and kisses of Forgiveness and Peace.
The celebration then continued at the parish hall, where a lunch was held honoring newly ordained Subdeacons. The sun was getting ready to go for a rest behind the tree spikes of the forest preserves as the parishioners and guests, wearied from all the excitement and joy, were leaving for home. It was truly a great day. The team of altar servers at our parish has increased. Now we have been blessed with seven Subdeacons and six altar boys.