UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Archpastoral Visit of His Grace Bishop Daniel To Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Lyndora, PA
On Saturday and Sunday, June 28/29, Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Lyndora, PA was blessed and pleased to welcome their Archpastor and Spiritual Father His Grace Bishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA into their midst. His Grace made this trip to our corner of God’s world to be with us as we celebrated the Patronal Feast of our Parish and honored our heavenly intercessors - the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
The first day of this wonderful visit began with a procession from the Parish Rectory and His Grace was greeted by the doors of the Church by Alijah Robinson and Patrick McLachlan who greeted His Grace with a gift of flowers on behalf of our Parish Church School teachers and students. His Grace was then greeted on behalf of all the Parish organizations by the President of the Parish Executive Board- George Pawluk and presented with the traditional greeting gift of bread and salt. The rounds of welcome for His Grace then continued at the entrance of the Nave as he was greeted and welcomed by our pastor, Father Paisius McGrath. Father Paisius welcomed His Grace with the Cross and Holy Water and asked that His Grace lead all those gathered in pray as we honored our heavenly intercessors - the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. His Grace graciously responded to each greeting by expressing his great joy to be here in this corner of Western Pennsylvania and to have come to share in the blessing of God upon the faithful of Saint’s Peter and Paul and all the other faithful Orthodox Christians gathered for this special occasion.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was then led by Bishop Daniel together with the following clergy: Father Paisius, Father Andrew Gall of Saint John the Baptist UOC in Sharon, PA, Father Bogdan Bucur of St. Anthony’s(Antiochian) Orthodox Church(Antiochian), Father Deacon Seraphim Truckley from Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church(OCA) . We were joined by many of the faithful of Saints Peter and Paul, St. Andrew’s, and Andrew’s- the three Orthodox parishes of the Butler - Lyndora community; Mother Christophora and the Sisters of Transfiguration Monastery(OCA) in Ellwood City, PA., Father Douglas Lorrance and parishioners from St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church; and visitors from many other places. The Church on this day rang with the wonderful voices of the local Parish Choir and choir members from other places led by the skillful direction of Bob Shott. During homily His Grace, gave us all much to ponder on as he reminded us of our call to be not only hearers of the Word of God, but doers of the Word as well. This time of prayer and worship was a powerful reminder to all present how that while we came from different places and different walks of life, all that faded as we all shared a common purpose: to give expression to the faith we hold in common. All told everyone present was able to truly say that we had worshipped God in a very meaningful and spiritually up lifting way and we all could leave the Church knowing that we had been truly inspired on this day.
The celebration of this day continued as everyone gathered for a special Festal luncheon given in honor of the visit of His Grace. The wonderful meal was a further opportunity for all present to continue this time of fellowship and this time was further enriched by a wonderful presentation of music given by the Belaikan Orchestra of Pittsburgh. The music was a wonderful testimony of how the musical traditions of our ancestral homeland continue to be cherished and preserved in the United States of America: His Grace was especially pleased to hear songs such as a high school graduation hymn that he remembered from his days growing up in Ukraine. All in all this was a wonderful way to conclude this day of fellowship and celebration and everyone present was truly able to say that they had been blessed to be here on this day.
As the afternoon continued, Father Paisius and Bishop Daniel traveled to nearby New Castle to offer a Memorial Litia at the grave of our newly departed brother in Christ and friend - Deacon Dennis Lapushansky. Then they spent some time visiting with Protopresbyter William and Pani Sonia Diakiw, who were quite pleased to spend time regaling everyone present with stories of days spent with His Grace in New Jersey and many other places!
This day continued with Bishop Daniel, Father Paisius and the faithful from Saints Peter and Paul joining for Great Vespers at Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church(OCA). Here they were pleased to join with His Eminence, Archbishop Melchizedek, of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Father Joseph Wargo - pastor of St. Andrew’s, Father Bogan Bucur, and faithful from St. Andrew’s for another time of prayer- prayer helping us to prepare ourselves for the coming day of Sunday. This time of prayer was followed by a wonderful time of food and fellowship shared by both hierarchs and the local clergy.
The visit of His Grace to our local community continued with the celebration of Divine Liturgy on Sunday, June 29, served by Bishop Daniel, Father Paisius and assisted by the Parish altar servers- Todd McCarthy, Pavlo Pawluk, and Zachary Potter. Once again the Church was filled the faithful of our parish and together with our wonderful choir directed by Bob Shott, we all raised voices of praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for His many and continued blessings on us all. In his homily, His Grace reminded us that we soon will celebrate our nation’s Day of Independence with the coming holiday of July 4th. He reminded us all how so often we spend so much of our time declaring our “independence” from everyone and everything. He then encouraged us to honor our nation’s freedoms while at the time declaring our own Day of Dependence- dependence upon God. All present were challenged by the words of His Grace to never forget that we are dependent upon God for all the blessings we receive in our lives, and our response needs to be in faithfulness to God and in so doing to be not only hearer’s but doer’s of the will of God.
Following Divine Liturgy, everyone joined together to continue this time of fellowship with a special Coffee Hour Breakfast in our Parish Ukrainian Hall. Once again one and all having shared in spiritual fellowship through the reception of Holy Communion, now gathered to share in some of the material blessings we had received- a wonderful breakfast of pancakes and sausage prepared by our Parish Executive Board and others.
The day ended as His Grace thanked everyone for participating in the services and activities of the days of His visit. In return all the faithful who were blessed with the ministry of His Grace during this visit responded with their thanks for the time given by His Grace to come and share with us in this very special way. Everyone bid farewell to our wonderful Archpastor and Spiritual Father with thankfulness in our hearts for the blessings we all received through His visit and the prayer that he will soon return to again spend time with us!
By Rev. Fr. Paisius McGrath
Photos by Subdeacon Volodymyr Sukanets