UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Bishop Daniel Ordains Subdeacon Vasyl Shak to Deaconate
“I felt like I was in heaven, watching and participating in the Divine Liturgy with the ordination of a new Deacon,” Pavlo Symonchuk, a recent immigrant from Ukraine to Somerset/Bridgewater, NJ, was talking about the ordination to the Holy Deaconate on Sunday, October 4, 2015 at St. Andrew the First Called Apostle Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, NJ. For Pavlo, as well as for many other parishioners and visitors of St. Andrew Memorial Church this past Sunday was a truly new experience in so many different ways.
First of all, on September 27, 2015 as the Church celebrated the Universal Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross, His Grace Bishop Daniel tasked the entire congregation to reach deep into their hearts and surround the cross of Christ laid ouT in the midst of the community with GENEROUS donations of canned vegetables, pasta, rice and any other food items in order to benefit the homeless and soup kitchens of the area. The flock listened to the voice of their shepherd. As Sunday morning hours lead the faithful for the Liturgy of the Leave-Taking of the Feast of the Exaltation, parishioners one after another entered the Church carrying bags of canned food and carefully following the veneration of the cross, left their offerings at the feet of the cross of Christ.
Second of all, a young recent graduate of Theological School from Ukraine was ordained to the Holy Deaconate by His Grace Bishop Daniel.
“It just lifted me up,” continued Pavlo. “I had tears in my eyes. … I was overwhelmed by what I saw, the Church serving the needs of the community and ordains at the same time a man of service – a deacon.”
I his sermon, Vladyka Daniel reflected on the meaning of the service of any ordained person, especially deacons and their true ministry in the life of the Church. Calling upon the soon to be ordained Subdeacon Vasyl Shak, Vladyka tasked him: “Do not be afraid to serve! You are called to serve, just the way the Lord served those around Him! Be sincere and naive, simple yet spiritually uplifting to those whom you shall serve in the name of Christ!”
“…Deacons are icons or images of Christ the Servant — the transfiguration to Christ the Servant through diaconal ordination is not simply a choice – it is a way of life.”
“Have a particular love and concern for the most vulnerable in our midst: the disabled and the elderly,” Bishop Daniel said. “Remember also that besides material poverty, there is much spiritual and cultural poverty in our world. You are called to serve… As I am called to serve or any other priest/bishop/patriarch – we are all servants of the creation of God - love the people whom you serve. Listen to your pastor and seek his guidance, fulfilling the Will of God everywhere and in everything you do.”
As the moment of ordination approached, seminarians Subdeacons Ivan Chopko and Volodymyr Yavorskyi led Subdeacon Vasyl to the Royal Doors, where he was met by Protodeacon Antony Szwez, who presented Subdeacon Vasyl to His Grace Bishop Daniel for ordination.
The words of the Ordination Prayer were pronounced. You could here the entire congregation moving closer to the Iconscreen in order to witness the moment of the laying on of hands of a shepherd on the future minister of Christ’s Church. Then suddenly the Church exploded with the glorious: “AXIOS! WORTHY! ГІДНИЙ!” - and the choir of St. Andrew's, under the leadership of Dr. Michael Andrec responded - “AXIOS! WORTHY! ГІДНИЙ!”
There, - right in the same place where 30 years ago Metropolitan Antony was consecrated to the Holy Episcopacy and 14 years ago Bishop Daniel was ordained to the Holy Priesthood at the Altar of St. Andrew Memorial Church - was standing a new Deacon of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. The tears of joy in the eyes of Deacon’s father and mother spiritually uplifted the entire congregation.
At the end of the Liturgy, Bishop Daniel reminded all that the family is the seedbed of vocations and thanked the parents (Fr. Roman and Dobrodijka Luba) of Deacon Vasyl for his upbringing. The words of prayerful union with Deacon’s wife Olena and son Roman from Ukraine touched everyone and the community welcomed Deacon Vasyl into their midst.
Following the formal greetings and chanting of “God, Grant You Many Years!”- the representatives of Pokrova Sisterhood of the Memorial Church approached Vladyka Daniel, presenting him with a gift and a bouquet of flowers on the occasion of his birthday.