UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Patron Feast Day at St. Andrew Memorial Church, South Bound Brook, NJ
It was a special day of thanksgiving at Holy Apostle Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church in South bound Brook, NJ, Sunday, December 14, 2014, as the entire Metropolia Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA celebrated the feast of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle, Founder of Christ’s Church in Kyiv Rus-Ukraine.
It was, as always, a most spiritual day, on which many guests joined with the local faithful to welcome His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and His Grace Bishop Daniel and, most importantly, to offer sincere gratitude to God Almighty for another year of abundant blessings upon us all.
The arrival of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and His Grace Vladyka Daniel was excitedly anticipated by the young children of the local Ukrainian School with bouquets of flowers. As they entered the Church, escorted by the Subdeacons-seminarians, the children rushed forth with sparkles in their eyes to present the flowers to both bishops of the Church, who must have seemed so very tall to them, but they bent down to greet and bless each one of them. It was a moment they will long remember. In fact, following the formal presentation, the children in their usual disarming way, randomly approached the bishops giving them hugs and reaching for the archpastoral panagias to venerate. The Parish of Pokrova Sisterhood, assisted by the members of the sisterhood, welcomed the hierarchs with the traditional offering of a beautiful ceremonial bread and salt, asking them to pray for all the founders and benefactors of the community. Responding to the greetings, both bishops expressed gratitude to the members of the communities’ sisterhood for their dedication and work, especially for the generous donations aiding the suffering refugees and wounded soldiers of Ukraine.
Very Rev. Yuriy Siwko, the pastor of St. Andrew Memorial Church, assisted by the Starosta (Elder) of the Memorial Church – Dmytro Kozliuk, welcomed His Eminence and His Grace, asking them to pray for all his predecessor hierarchs and parish priests – especially as the community celebrates the patron feast day.
The church was filled with people from various generations of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians: parishioners that arrived to the US a decade ago, their children and grandchildren, as well numerous faithful of the Church that recently arrived from Ukraine. Chanting the responses to the Divine Liturgy were the members of St. Andrew’s Church Choir under the leadership of Dr. Michael Andrec.
Following the Divine Liturgy His Eminence offered an inspiring sermon centered on the topic of each person’s ability and call to dedication in the service of God and others, the community, nation, etc. He will, if we open our hearts and souls to Him, enable us to become more than we could ever imagine being.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His Grace Bishop Daniel spoke to the membership of the parish family about the most recent repairs done at the Memorial Church and the dedication of so many parishioners that volunteered their time and financial assistance. Moreover, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony expressed the most sincere gratitude to the work crew under the leadership of Metropolia’s Center Petro Rudyy for their dedication and work. In addition, Vladyka presented to the entire parish community, the newly installed icons of Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Holy Prophet John the Baptist and St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, that were placed in the Memorial Church as a memorial gift from the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Dearborn, MI.
Following the liturgical celebrations of the day, a delicious Lenten meal awaited all present, having been prepared by Pokrova sisterhood under the leadership of Panimatka Lesia Siwko. There was no admission fee for the lavish banquet because this is simply a time when we want our whole family gathered together with our Spiritual Fathers – our Metropolitan and Bishop – to celebrate what God has provided for us. Even though no admission fee is required, many present made significant donations on a voluntarily basis.
The afternoon became even more celebratory, once the children of Ukrainian Language and Religion School of the Memorial Church, under the leadership of Principal Halyna Stadnytska and teachers, presented a small concert program honoring the feast day of the parish and the forthcoming celebrations of St. Nicholas and the Nativity of our Lord. Moreover, the youth of the local Barvinok Dance studio entertained everyone with a small presentation about the upcoming Nativity season. In conclusion, a very significant presentation was announced and presented to His Grace Bishop Daniel, as the president of the Consistory of the UOC of the USA, for the repairs at the Memorial Church in the amount of $10,000. It was presented by Panimatka Lesia Siwko, on behalf of the entire membership of Pokrova Sisterhood that with love and dedication spend numerous hours cooking and organizing charitable events in order to benefit the Memorial Church community.
The presence of our bishops - His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and His Grace Bishop Daniel - is always most important to our annual Patron Feast Day. This is evident by the obvious love that emanates from them for our children and family members. This same love is evident in the relationship that emerges now between the leadership of our parish family with all the members and visitors. This sincere love is so evident now, not only on this one day, but at every step of our parish community life and provides a sense of security for the future of our parish and, in turn, for our entire Church. It is almost palpable when one spends any real time with our parish family. We pray that others “know that we are follower of Jesus Christ by this love we have for one another”. We are grateful to God for such blessed moments as our annual Feast Day in our lives and the opportunities it offers for us to “be of one mind in confessing the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – one in essence and undivided”.