UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Bishop Daniel Visits Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church in San Francisco, CA
For many weeks parishioners of Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church in San Francisco, CA, have been looking forward to His Grace Bishop Daniel’s visit to the parish for the Founders Day Celebration of the parish family.
Finally the long awaited weekend arrived – Vladyka Daniel and Subdeacon Volodymyr Yavorskyi of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary arrived from the Spiritual Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in South Bound Brook, NJ and directly at the airport they were greeted by the members of the parish community.
Saturday morning started as a day of spiritual effort and ended as a day of spiritual reward. Weeks prior to Vladyka Daniel’s arrival, the entire San Francisco Bay area planned a hike with the bishop through the historic UKRAINA park, a place where numerous Ukrainian Orthodox Christians settled and found peace some 100 years ago. Among them was one of the first Ukrainian Orthodox clergy Fr. Ahapit Honcharenko. While his life path and accomplishments are being rediscovered by the local community, this year’s commemoration of the early Ukrainian Orthodox pioneers to the North American continent provided an opportunity for the group of visitors to UKRAINA park to pray for the numerous men and women of the ancestral homeland Ukraine, who sacrificed their lives for the basic rights of religious and national freedom. Vladyka Daniel, assisted by the pastor of Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox parish in San Francisco, CA - Fr. Georgiy Tyapko, served a Memorial service in the park, mentioning the great sacrifices and contributions of some many Ukrainian-Americans that have served the community through out the last century. Participating in the community walk were the numerous members of the Consulate General of Ukraine in San Francisco, headed by Consul General Sergiy Aloshyn.
Following the four hour walk/pilgrimage, the participants of the event gathered for an interesting pot-luck lunch that was prepared by various parishioners and enjoyed by all in an informal atmosphere – right in the park... sitting on the grass, singing old Ukrainian songs and simply enjoying each others company…
Later in the day, Vladyka Daniel joined a group of about 20 young people and their families for a formal get-to-know each other dinner in the local Italian restaurant. While the restaurant was Italian, the servers were from Ukraine. After supper, thought-provoking conversations ensued between His Grace Bishop Daniel and active members of the Church. Vladyka Daniel started the meeting by telling the people a very interesting history of his life and how and why he decided to become a Ukrainian Orthodox theologian. A lively discussion between His Grace Bishop Daniel and parishioners followed, the main subject being the daily life of parishes of the Church and the blessings and difficulties encountered by Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the United States and in Ukraine.
On Sunday morning, May 3rd, the official greeting of Vladyka Daniel started at 9:45 in the morning. Bishop Daniel, the ruling hierarch of the Western Eparchy, was greeted by the children of the newly established parish school, who presented Vladyka with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. The President of the Parish Board of Administration, Vitaliy Vizir and Pani Nadia Basalsky, then greeted the Bishop from the parishioners with the traditional welcome.
Solemn Hierarchal Liturgy followed. The Church was filled to capacity. Concelebrating with His Grace Bishop Daniel were our pastor Very Rev. Fr. Georgiy Tyapko and Fr. Yuriy Shakh of Los Angeles, CA. Everything was very festive! The Church Choir, under the leadership of Pani Vira Vizir, aptly sang responses to Bishop Daniel’s prayers during the Divine Liturgy.
All services were conducted interchangeably in both English and Ukrainian languages at the same time, which made the service understandable to all present. Many times during the Divine Liturgy Vladyka Daniel blessed the congregation with the hierarchal Dykiri and Trykiri candles. In his very moving sermon Vladyka Daniel gave many examples and advice for creating a pleasant and inviting atmosphere in our churches which would attract guest visitors of our churches who might possibly be looking for a new place of worship and possibly join our church. Vladyka Daniel emphasized that because our Ukrainian Orthodox Church is in the middle of two cultures – the Ukrainian and the American - it is very important in order to preserve our Orthodox Church to adjust our services and celebrations to both cultures and languages. In his homily, based on the story of the healing of the paralytic, Bishop Daniel expressed how pleased he was to be present with us and to encourage our parish as we work toward building up our renewed parish family. The Bishop encouraged us, especially the new generation of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians, in our efforts to care for our parish community, because such growth in our parish is a powerful way for us to reach out to bring others closer to Christ’s healing touch. The Bishop acknowledged that growth is always accompanied by struggles. He assured us that we are in his prayers and he asked for our prayers for our parish and for him. He reminded us that our ancestors had a vision for themselves and the future generations, just as we do, to provide comfort and hope and to minister to others about the presence of God. This attracts others to join us in praising God. In conclusion, Vladyka Daniel also stressed that inner peace and spiritual happiness is more important than the accumulation of worldly possessions.
Welcoming the hierarch to the parish community, Very Rev. Fr. Georgiy Tyapko, a pastor of Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church, joyfully greeted Vladyka Daniel, reflecting on the importance of the visit and the ability for the entire parish community to pray for the pioneers and founders of the congregation.
After singing the final prayer “Bozhe Velykyj Yedynyj…” – the Ukrainian prayer which imploring the Almighty God to preserve our Fatherland Ukraine – a long line for veneration of the cross and the icon of “Chornobyl Savior” formed and the radiant and smiling Vladyka Daniel found enough time to exchange at least a few friendly words with just about everyone who approached him and talked to him while kissing the Cross, and being anointed with the blessed oil from the Myrrh-Streaming icon.
Following the Divine Liturgy a special luncheon was held to honor His Grace and all other visitors to Holy Archangel Michael parish on this special day. In the parish hall a wonderful meal had been prepared under the direction of the parish’s Sisterhood with the assistance of many of the ladies of the parish. Everyone enjoyed the wonderful meal and opportunity of fellowship.
As the day ended everyone who was present was very thankful to Bishop Daniel for his visit to our parish and for bringing the blessing of God to us in a special way. As a token of our love to our bishop, the children of the parish family treated everyone present to a preview of a few songs that are being prepared for the formal Mother’s day celebration on May 10th. Moreover, Fr. Georgiy, assisted by the local artist and parishioner of the Holy Archangel Michael parish Julia Kosivchuk, presented Vladyka with a gift on behalf of the entire parish – a painting of the guardian angel of our bishop. All the faithful from the parish family were blessed to have come and have learned much from Bishop Daniel about the importance of continued faithfulness in every aspect of our lives as witnesses to the salvation which we have received from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our parish and community looks forward very much to the next time that Bishop Daniel will again be able to visit the San Francisco Bay area.
Photos by Andriy Shegera