UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Penn-Ohio Deanery Meeting in Youngstown, OH
By Very Rev. John Harvey, Dean of Penn-Ohio Deaney
During the past decade, most of the deaneries of our church became dysfunctional and either would not meet with regularity or were ineffective. As in the body, the health of individual cells or groups of cells affects the whole, so too our church was affected by malaise from individual marginalized parishes or regions which had ceased to function through apathy. Our hierarchs have issued a wake-up call and recently called a meeting of the Deans to challenge them to be creative in revitalizing their areas, promoting fraternal ties and to be vigilant that parishes do not wither to the state in which they may be forced to close. Invoking the life-giving power of the Gospel, the hierarchs will visit each Deanery to propose ideas which may prove to alleviate local problems and revive apathetic situations.
To this goal, Bishop Daniel utilized his pastoral visitation to Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Youngstown, Ohio to convoke the first meeting of the Penn-Ohio Deanery in some six years. On November 2, 2013, the archpastor gathered with his clergy around the altar for Divine Liturgy, thus emphasizing the spiritual bond between the priests and protodeacon Ihor of the region through their sacramental actions. Following the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Daniel greeted Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay with the 17th Anniversary of his ordination to the Deaconate. Afterwards, an intensive meeting brought full attention and constructive discussion of the many points which the agenda presented for consideration.
Fr. John Harvey, Dean, in his remarks noted that our church has changed greatly from the days of the 1950's through 1970's, when parishioners would travel great distances in convoys to attend dances, picnics or other events in quite distant parishes. Even the Millenium events at the All Saints Camp with multiple bus loads from churches cannot be easily replicated today. Quite frankly, the median age of our parishioners has steadily advanced and many do not travel at all. What youth or young adults that we have seem to have different interests and priorities and do not travel to church events like their predecessors. These are realistic factors which make fraternal relations between even the closest parishes a difficult proposition.
His Grace Bishop Daniel lead the clergy through the twenty some possible action items on the agenda and after deep discussion the following decisions were made. Bishop Daniel will preside at the following serves during Great Lent with our Deanery clergy, who should encourage at least some of their flock to attend as well. The Forgiveness Sunday Vespers will set the tone of Great Lent and will take place at Sts. Peter and Paul parish in Youngstown , Ohio. Holy Wednesday will see the clergy gather with faithful for the Holy Unction Service at St. Nicholas Pro-Cathedral in Lakewood, Ohio. After the Liturgy of Great and Holy Thursday, the beautiful scriptural rite of the washing of the feet will take place at St. Vladimir's Cathedral in Parma, Ohio.
Clergy are to take active part in their local Orthodox Clergy Associations, so that our parishes can not only have practical local participation in events, but that our diocese will be rightly perceived as being an essential participant and not an isolationist hermit. Activities such as the Youngstown Youth Lock-In should be actively promoted, as well as locally financially subsidized participation of our children in our three diocesan encampments
With the blessing of the Eparchial Bishop - His Grace Bishop Daniel, and upon the election, Fr. John Harvey was confirmed as Dean and Fr. Paisij McGrath was elected to be Treasurer. St. Peter and Paul parish of Lyndora, PA was hived off of the Pittsburgh Deanery, as its place on the eastern end of the Highway 422 corridor from Lorain, Ohio in the west would make for a very compact and workable Penn-Ohio Deanery. Noting that this is but the beginning of the work of revitalization, the next meeting will be scheduled just prior to Great Lent. At that meeting all are challenged to consider the possibility of opening a mission somewhere in Northeastern Ohio. With the blessing of Bishop Daniel, a most fruitful gathering was adjourned.