Patriarch-Metropolitan Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) served our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA for forty-three years as Archbishop, President of the Consistory and Metropolitan from 1950 to the day of his repose in the Lord on 11 June 1993.The twentieth anniversary of the repose of His Holiness Patriarch Mstyslav was commemorated at our Metropolia Center on Saturday 8 June 2013. Members of his family, friends, clergy and faithful of our church gathered to recall the incredible leadership and contributions the Patriarch made in the life of our Church, especially with the establishment of St. Andrew Memorial Center and Church Headquarters located in South Bound Brook – Somerset, NJ.
His Eminence Metropolitan Antony led the commemoration with the celebration of Divine Liturgy in St. Andrew Memorial Church. Clergy participating in the service were V. Rev. Yurij Siwko, Pastor of the Parish; V. Rev. Petro Levko, Pastor of St. George Parish, Yardville, NJ; V. Rev. John Lyszyk, Pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, Irvington, NJ; V. Rev. Oleh Hucul, Pastor of Holy Ascension Parish, Maplewood, NJ; V. Rev. Taras Naumenko, Pastor of St. Vladimir Cathedral, Philadelphia, PA; Rev. Fr. Zinoviy Zharskiy, Pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, Trenton, NJ; Rev. Fr. Vasyl Dovhan, St. Andrew Memorial Church; Rev. Fr. Vasyl Dmytryshyn, St. Sophia Seminary and Rev. Fr. Vasyl Pasakas, Pastor of Nativity of the Virgin Mary Parish, South Plainfield, NJ and Deacon James Cairns, St. Demetrius Parish, Carteret, NJ.
Participating from the Patriarch’s family were his daughter, Tamara Yarovenko, who traveled from Toronto, Ontario, Canada and was joined by her daughter, Natalka who resides in Florida and several grandchildren and a great grandchild – who is the great-great grandchild of the Patriarch. Others participating were faithful from South Bound Brook and other local parishes.
Metropolitan Antony offered his personal reflections during his sermon about the life and accomplishments of Patriarch Mstyslav. He described him as a man of great vision who saw the possibilities in given situations that many others were unable to comprehend. In particular, the establishment of our Church’s Metropolia Center, which the Patriarch lovingly called the “Ukrainian Jerusalem”, a name which took hold and was utilized around the world in reference to the Center. “He was a man who always had a plan for the next five years, a man who never wavered in his conviction that Ukrainian would once again be a free nation and her Holy Church would be reborn. I am thankful beyond measure to God Almighty for permitting Patriarch Mstyslav to live long enough to see that conviction proven true. We who worked with him here in the Consistory and on the Council of the Metropolia often reacted to the Patriarch’s conviction with the rolling of eyes – none of us having the same strength of conviction about Ukraine’s future. Oh, we all dreamed and hoped for the very results that the Patriarch was certain about, but none of us believed we would witness the events that occurred in the last decade of the twentieth century and the consequences they would have for the future of our church and the Ukrainian community here in the USA and around the world.”
The Metropolitan recalled his personal relationship with the Patriarch, especially with gratitude that he was one of the Metropolitan’s consecrators to episcopal dignity. It was of special significance not only to Metropolitan Antony, but to the faithful of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine in those early years of independence that Patriarch Mstyslav was a powerful symbol. He was the tie between pre-communist and post-communist Ukraine, who in his very person exhibited what faith can bring about and how goodness and truth always prevail in the end.
Following Divine Liturgy the clergy and faithful walked in a procession to the Holy Resurrection Mausoleum beneath the Memorial Church and the crypt of Patriarch Mstyslav, which is in the central rotunda of the mausoleum. Surround the crypt are four rooms which contain exhibits of events in the life of the Patriarch, including one his sets of vestments and liturgical vessels along with publications published by the Church sometimes under the direct physical supervision of the Patriarch. All the faithful gathered around the sarcophagus for a Panahkyda-Memorial Service. Dr. Michael Andrec, choir director at the Memorial Church directed the choir members and guests who were present in singing all responses during the Panakhyda and the Divine Liturgy.
Following the memorial service everyone was invited to the small social center located in the bulding next to what the Patriarch’s print shop was located. Tamara Yarovenko, the Patriarch’s daughter addressed the gathering, expressing her own gratitude along with that of her entire family for the remembrance of Patriarch Mstyslav at this anniversary. She informed the faithful that in Ukraine a number of special seminars and conferences had been scheduled to reflect upon the Patriarch’s service to the Church there and his life-long commitment to the good estate of Christ’s Church and his beloved Ukrainian homeland. She reminded those gathered in South Bound Brook, USA, that “in spite of all the possible candidates who could have been elected as Ukraine’s first Patriarch, it was the head of our Church here in the USA who was chosen. That says much about you and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and it is something that you can always be very proud of and comforted by.”
Luba Shevchenko, Vice-President of the Pokrova Sisterhood of the Memorial Church, announced that the Sisterhood would make a donation of $10,000 to the Church for the further construction of the History and Education Complex and Museum in memory of Patriarch Mstyslav. The Metropolitan expressed deep gratitude to the Sisterhood for its continued generosity, which has been critical to the enormous task of maintaining the entire property and buildings of our Metropolia Center. Other donations from individuals present were also made to the Museum Fund.