UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Archpastoral Visit to St. Anthony of the Desert Mission
His Grace Bishop Daniel traveled to St. Anthony of the Desert Mission, Las Cruces New Mexico, for his annual Episcopal visitation on the weekend of the 26-28 February, 2016. His Grace was accompanied by a seminarian of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Bound Brook, NJ) Ivan Hlakhuniak.
On Saturday, His Grace met with over a dozen parishioners for an informal coffee and conversation at the home of Elizabeth Davies, the congregational treasurer and choir member. Following this Bishop Daniel met privately with parishioners who had particular concerns they which to discussed with him.
In the afternoon, Bishop Daniel hosted a gathering of students from New Mexico State University who are engaged in the Model UN for this year. Matthew McNeile, a member of St. Anthony parish, is the President of the Model UN team this year at the University. About ten students and a handful of interested local people were in attendance as Bishop Daniel explained, in detail, the history of the struggles of the Ukrainian people in the 19th to 21st Centuries to achieve independence and recognition as a nation. A lively question and answer session followed the bishop’s presentation. Bishop Daniel invited the team to visit the national church headquarters when they are in New York for the Model UN assembly in May.
Fr. Gabriel served Great Vespers on Saturday at 5:00 PM. The Bishop added comments on the necessity to honor the image and likeness of God in all persons, and that our honoring is a sign of God’s presence in the world. The Vespers was followed by an informal dinner to which the community was also invited.
On Sunday Fr. Gabriel and Mr. Hugh Chappelle, chairman of the parish council, greeted Vladyka Daniel on behalf of the parish. Bishop Daniel then presided at the Divine Liturgy and preached a stirring sermon on the parable of the Prodigal Son, focusing on the phrase “he came to his senses.” Bishop stressed that the difference between the son who returned and the one who stayed at home was that the former “came to his senses,” recognized his need for repentance, and demonstrated that even before returning home. Meanwhile the older brother remained in his old ways, unable to “come to his senses” in a way that would enable him to appreciate the love the Father always had for him.
Members of the parish council were inducted into office at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy; Bishop Daniel shared some words with the members of the council and challenged them to serve as lights to the community of faith at St. Anthony of the Desert Mission. The parish council this year includes Ted Argeanas, High Chappelle, Elizabeth Davies, Christopher Encapera, Caleb Finch, Vladimir Laven and Christopher Wrazen. The episcopal visit concluded Sunday evening with a festive dinner for council members and spouses at the home of Christopher and Kim Encapera.
St. Anthony Mission is now in its ninth year of existence and, following a major loss of members to retirement, job replacement, and moves out of the area, has rebounded in the past year. The Mission currently numbers thirty-five adult members and eleven children, with several regular visitors and several more baptisms and chrismations on the horizon in this year.