Sunday, July 20th was a day of great joy and spiritual fulfillment as our Father Bishop, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, arrived at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Wilmington, Delaware to celebrate the Divine Liturgy commemorating our Parish Feast Day. His Eminence was greeted at the door of the Church first by our youth with a presentation of a bouquet of flowers by Anastasia Hutnick. The Vice-President of the Parish Board, Mr. Alexander Czernik, greeted the Metropolitan on behalf of the Board and the Parish Family with the traditional bread and salt. The korovai was baked and beautifully decorated by Linda Hnatow.
Our Pastor, Father Stephen, greeted the Metropolitan with the hand cross and holy water, thanking him for his presence and his prayers during this auspicious occasion. Father Stephen reminded the faithful that the Bishop, as the successor of the Apostles, is the link between the Church and Christ Himself. His Eminence assured him of his continued prayers for both him and the parish and asked that we also remember him in our prayers as he carries on his Archpastoral duties.
As the procession into the Church began, the Parish Choir, under the direction of Ms. Nancy Hlywiak began singing the Hymn to the Mother of God. The Parish Family was joined in this celebration with Parishioners from our Mission Parish of Saint Nicholas in Dover, Delaware and our sister Parish of Saint Mary in Chester, Pennsylvania.
During the Small Entrance, His Eminence announced that the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA had decided to honor our Pastor with the award of wearing the miter. This award was presented in honor of Father Stephen’s celebration of his 30th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood and his continued ministry of caring for Sts. Peter and Paul in Wilmington, Saint Nicholas Mission in Dover and Holy Trinity Mission in Whaleyville, MD. With the singing of “Axios!” the Metropolitan removed Father’s kamilavka and placed on his head the miter. His Eminence reminded Father that the higher the elevation in the priesthood will also require more responsibility in the Church of Christ.
In his sermon for the day, His Eminence talked about the hardships and sacrifices that we as Christians are asked to make in our lives. Talking about the paralytic of the Gospel, he looked into our hearts and souls and reminded us that in the face of adversity, how many times do we ask the question “Why me?” He spoke of the person of Job and how he lost everything that we as humans hold dear and yet never lost his faith since he understood that everything in life is a gift from God. His continued prayer was “God gives and God takes, Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” He spoke about our feelings of abandonment and sorrow and reminded us that our Lord also faced the same emotions on the Cross. It is only with faith in our Savior that we can conquer these feelings and become wholly committed to God through theosis: the participation in God’s life.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy and the singing of “God grant you many years” and the Prayer for Ukraine, the faithful were asked to come forward to venerate the holy relics of the Apostles Peter and Paul and all the Apostles and Evangelists which were loaned to the Parish from the Very Rev. Archpriest John Perich, the Pastor of St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church in Gradyville, PA. Father John also sent as a gift to the Metropolitan the relics of some of the Saints of the Caves Monastery: Saint Theodosius, Saint Volodymyr, Metropolitan of Kyiv and Saint Arsenyj of the Far Caves. Special thanks were offered to Father John for allowing us to venerate these relics during our Patronal Feast Day.
All of the faithful, about 120 people, were invited to the Church Hall where a delicious meal was prepared by our Parishioner and Master Chef, Barry Pinkowicz, with the help of his wife, Janilyn and his mother, Bernice. Our Parish Sisterhood Officers did a beautiful job of decorating the hall for this festive occasion and offering help in getting everything ready.
Every year our Parish Family honors someone who is nominated for their outstanding work accomplished over the past year. This year’s recipient was Mark Andreas who over the past year served as a Trustee of the Parish Board, the Chairperson of the Building and Maintenance Committee and the Liason between the Parish and our Boy Scout Troop #70, the “Peacemakers”. Mark had accomplished many items on the “to do” list for the Parish including repainting the areas inside of the Church which had been damaged by leaks in the roof, fixing the rainspout at the rectory and reappointing the brick work on the side of the Church, stopping the deterioration of the plaster around the stained glass windows.
Donald Hrynyshyn was also honored at the dinner. Don has served for many years as a Trustee on the Parish Board and is a driving force in getting work done by providing valuable ground work information .
This year the Parish also honored all its members that are 90 years of age and older. Believe it or not, we had 17 honorees this year, many of them still attend Services almost every Sunday!
Our Parish Ukrainian Orthodox League Chapter made a special presentation. President Jean Roeth came forward to present to the Parish a check for $1,000.00 from the League to help in its everyday operations. Our UOL had just completed a drive for the Diapers for the Orphanage of Ukraine and also completed and donated a basket to be chanced off at the National UOL Convention that will be held in South Sound Brook, New Jersey beginning this week.
One of our former Parish Family members also made a special presentation to the Parish. The Jennings Family, who about two years ago moved to Washington state, were able to be in Wilmington to visit with their former Parish Family during these festive days. They are presently attending St. Herman of Alaska Parish where they now live and presented our Parish Family with a beautiful Icon of the Saint.
Wasyl and Ethel Bernhard were so moved by the festive environment that they decided to also make a special presentation. They made a grand donation to the Church in order to pay for all the expenses of the day’s dinner. In effect, they took all 120 of us out to eat!
After the dinner, we had the privilege of welcoming the Choir, Domine from Ivanno-Frankivsk, Ukraine. Their beautiful voices captivated all those present. A special collection was taken for the Choir and they received a great round of applause by all the people present.
Father Stephen thanked His Eminence and the Synod of Bishops for their kindness and the award he received this day. He also thanked the Parish Family of Sts. Peter and Paul whom he has served over the past twelve years. He prayed that as they began their thirteenth year together that they would grow even more as a family in the service of God. He thanked all those who were present from St. Nicholas Mission whom he has served over the past six years. Right Rev. Mitred Protopresbyter Gerald Ozlanski, Pastor of St. Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Chester, PA and Father James Weremedic, Pastor of St. Michael Orthodox Church in Wilmington, DE and their parishioners who came for the concert were thanked for their attendance. He asked Metropolitan Antony to please close the festivities with prayer.
After the dinner, Metropolitan Antony and Father Stephen visited Pani Ann Hrynyshyn at Foulk Manor South. Pani Ann is the wife of our former Pastor, the Right Rev. Mitred Protopresbyter Paul Hrynyshyn of blessed memory. She was very excited by the visit and thanked the Metropolitan for his kindness.
As a Parish Family we are very thankful for our Metropoltan’s Archpastoral visit. We look forward to having him visit us again soon and will continue to pray for his health and well-being. May God grant him many, happy and blessed years! Eis polla eti Depsota!
By A Parishioner