UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULT MINISTRY
High School Mission Team 2014 Kicks-off in Cleveland, OH
The team arrived in Cleveland, OH on Monday evening to be greeted by Very Rev. Fr. Dennis Kristof, pastor of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Pro-Cathedral in Lakewood, OH. The parishioners treated the team to a tasty dinner of chicken paprikash, varenyky and a birthday cake for Fr. Dennis! Also in attendance to greet the team were Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay, Director of the Consistory Office of Christian Charity and co-sponsor of the trip, as well as Paul Finely, Director of FOCUS Cleveland/St. Herman's House.
The team members gathered in St. Nicholas parish for a brief reflection led by Fr. Dennis. Paul Finely provided us with a short overview of what the team would be tackling in the next few days. The team thanked Fr. Dennis and his parish for sharing their parish home be our home for the time we are here.
Tuesday morning came quickly upon us and we dashed over to St. Herman's. Paul Finley started us off with a tour of the facility and a video explaining the mission of St.Herman's. It is now in the capable hand of FOCUS North America as it moves forward. Our day was diverse and a joy. We refurbished and disassemble old chairs from the dining room, cleaned and mopped the first floor, "weeded" out lining pans that were no longer useful, delivered shoes for children to a local distribution center, prepared and helped serve over 150 meals during lunch and dinner.
After a long but wonderful day with our new friends at St. Herman's we were treated to an awesome picnic dinner by Fr. John and Pani Matka Mary Ann Nakonachny and their son Michael at their home. It was a laid-back and welcoming way to relax and enjoy our time together. Protodeacon Ihor took the team on a tour of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral’s compound (Parma, OH) in the center of the Ukrainian Village. The team admired the beautiful Cathedral's iconography and Famine Memorial - as well as their parish hall, library and class rooms.
Tired and ready for home - the team managed one more stop for....ice cream! You are never too tired for ice cream!
Today dawned bright and beautiful in Cleveland! The High School Mission Team Members had a bit of a groggy start but were ready to get to work! It was an action-packed day full of projects. The team worked together to sort through nearly 100 belts to organize them by size for distribution. Then the team split up to work in various areas.
Two of the projects involved beautification of the chapel at St. Herman's. The first was the tedious but much needed task of removing wax from the "bishop's chair". With iron and brown bag in hand the task was long but very successful! The second project was a bit more labor intensive. The group took on re-upholstering six chairs and three kneelers. Wow! What a learning experience. Cutting, measuring.... re-measuring, staple gunning, hammering, pulling out staples, reapplying staples, etc… But when complete - goodness did they look amazing!
The final major undertaking was to wash, scrape and paint the front porch of St Herman's. This was an all day affair but upon completion the team members felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment as the gazed at the front of the house. In amidst all the flurry of work, the team also helped to prepare and serve lunch and dinner for those visiting the house. During the 9th Hour Prayer Service the team was blessed to celebrate the Feast of Transfiguration with our FOCUS family.
Before we knew it, the day had come to a close and we bid farewell to our new friends at FOCUS Cleveland/St. Herman's House. The team gave hugs, handshakes and thank you gifts. A very special thanks was given to Paul Finely for his encouragement and care for our team. St. Herman's is truly a house of hospitality and the Holy Spirit. The team gifted to the house an icon of the Hospitality of Abraham.
With a bit of melancholy to leave our new friends we packed up the cars and headed off for the second phase of our trip...Pittsburgh!
Today we tackled the three river city – Pittsburgh, PA! The team arrived bright and early on a shiny day and were joined by new team members, high school mission team alumni and volunteers. FOCUS Pittsburgh Director, Paul Abernathy, greeted us with his warm and exuberant smile and personality. He educated the team on the work at FOCUS Pittsburgh and introduced them to the free health clinic at their site. The clinic is staffed by Orthodox faithful who work in the medical field, this is a unique and one-of-a-kind facility for the Orthodox community in the USA.
The team divided into several work teams to accomplish some major projects to aid the site. One group organized and inventoried health clinic supplies. The supplies room was then sanitized and prepared for next day organization continuation. Outdoor beautification was worked on with the sun's warmth and cool breeze. The team provided lunch for the local residents who were at the FOCUS center for the service of the 6th Hour and those awaiting aid for various needs. FOCUS Pittsburgh provides the opportunity for prayer and worship seven days a week and is currently supporting several catechumens in the local community.
Some of the team members were entrenched in our major project of organizing and refurbishing the clothing/items storage room. This extensive organization project, when completed, will provide the site with a more efficient way to serve their guest's needs as well as providing additional space in the main area of the center. In addition to the a fore mentioned projects, team members embarked on a major summer cleaning of the center.
After a long but productive day of work the team met with Very Rev. Fr. John Haluszczak, pastor of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Church in South Side Pittsburgh. The team strolled through a bit of the bustling and historic East Carson Street area. While enjoying gigantic sandwiches from a local famous eatery, the team enjoyed from the evening reflection provided by Fr. John.
Following the evening prayer service, the team headed off for the evening. But the work day was not quite done! A late night shopping session in preparation for the next day resulted in, yes...ice cream!