UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Hierarchical Visit to Commemorate 75th Anniversary of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Dearborn, Michigan
By Elizabeth Symonenko
The usually quiet Dearborn, Michigan neighborhood awoke on the morning of June 21, 2014, to excited voices echoing off the old ranch style homes. Surpassing the birdsong, were the elated voices of the parishioners of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who were gathering up and down the street awaiting the arrival of His Grace Bishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. It was a special day in the history of the parish, for today marked their 75th anniversary. Three quarters of a century of prayer, fellowship, and service.
The parish was first organized in 1939 when the Very Rev. Fr. John Boyko first arrived in Detroit. For a number of years the faithful tried planting roots in various locations and buildings, finally purchasing the plot of land where the church stands today in 1954. The church would not have survived for so many years without the dedication and hard work of each and every priest and parishioner.
The sunshine shimmered through the leaves of the tall maples and cast dancing shadows upon the colorful vestments of His Grace, who was accompanied by Subdeacon Andrew Stoiko and Reader Mark Alexiev, as he rounded the corner and stopped to acknowledge each smiling face. From young to younger, everyone was happy and eager to greet their hierarch. On the steps of the church Bishop Daniel was handed beautiful sunflower bouquets by the parish children whose smiles and giggles portrayed youthful vigor and hope for the future. Further up the steps His Grace was greeted with bread and salt, a traditional Ukrainian custom of greeting dignitaries and guests, by Raymond Newak the Parish Board President, Dolores Gelemey Newak and Julia Stoiko.
As His Grace proceeded in to the church he was greeted by the parish pastor, Very Rev. Andrew Rogers, as well as Very Rev. Paul Bodnarchuk, visiting pastor of the sister parish of St. Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Southfield, and Very Rev. Andrei Alexiev from Holy Ascension Serbian Orthodox Church in Ecorse, Michigan.
As Bishop Daniel entered the Altar, the choir erupted in song, belying their true size of merely four women. The small church glistened and glimmered as the candlelight bounced off the gold-leaf halos of the saints depicted on the icons. Everyone fell deep in to prayer and contemplation as the Liturgy commenced and became contemplative as the Gospel was read. As always, His Grace delivered a rousing sermon, enlightening and educating, as a good shepherd should. His oration revolved around the keywords of “live, love, and sacrifice”, for this is what we are called to do in life. We are not here to indulge every one of our whims, but to sacrifice of ourselves, in order to “love” others. This love is revealed in our kind and unselfish deeds.
Bishop Daniel continued by reminiscing about all the prayers, weddings, baptisms and celebrations that had taken place under the roof of the church in the past 75 years. The parish had been served by a number of priests, and the list of faithful ebbed and flowed over the years. Over the past 75 years it has stood here as a beacon of light and hope. It has consistently served the faithful who come through its doors in order to fulfill a craving. This craving is a yearning for peace, harmony, love and God, all of which has been found within the church doors. Bishop Daniel continued to explain that humanity is beleaguered by life and worn down with troubles. People come to church to “charge their batteries”. Just as a cellphone needs to be charged, so does the human being. The church is the outlet into which we plug ourselves in. Our hierarchs, and clergy, supply the power through the Grace of God, and we in turn get charged. We are to carry this charge away from the outlet, in to the world, and shine brightly. We are also required to plug in regularly to renew that charge, thereby, we are to attend Divine Liturgy weekly, and in the interim, if our charge grows weak, we are to pray, for through prayer we can extend our power supply.
As the Divine Liturgy concluded everyone poured out in to the sunshine to enjoy each other’s company and the cool breeze on their faces. The children ran around squealing, as the adults indulged them with wary and protective glances. Eventually, everyone filed back in to the building, heading downstairs to the church hall for a catered luncheon. With His Grace blessing the meal, everyone filled their plates, their stomachs and their souls with food and laughter.
Upon completion of the meal, His Grace Bishop Daniel stood to say a few words about the parish and the faithful. This parish has been dynamic, serving its faithful as needed, in both Ukrainian and English over the years. Times have been difficult, but, the little parish maintained its integrity and remained as an outlet to charge the power supplies of the parishioners.
Olga Liskiwskyi, Parish Board President of St. Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral stood to say a few words, expressing warmest greetings from her parish. She also extended greetings from the Council of Orthodox Christian Churches in Detroit (COCC) of whom she is Vice President, to the parish on their 75th anniversary.
Very Reverend Fr. Andrew Rogers had the crowd laughing and crying as he took the floor and spoke about his many memories at the parish. Father Andrew was followed by Parish Board President Raymond Newak who thanked everyone for coming and expressed his heartfelt gratitude to each and every individual parishioner for all the hard work and dedication they have shown to the parish over the years.
The day concluded with everyone enjoying cake and coffee and lingering to chit-chat with old friends, and new. Slowly the crowd dispersed, with smiles on their faces and assurances that everyone would meet again tomorrow for Sunday Liturgy at the 75 year old parish of Holy Trinity, to charge their batteries one more time and to present the beloved pastor – Fr. Andrew, with a gift of love from the parish membership, through the hands of the Eparchial hierarch – Bishop Daniel, - a jeweled pectoral cross.