UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Archpastoral Visit to Holy Ghost Parish in Slickville, PA
By Reader Alexander Popichak
His Grace was greeted in the vestibule by church president Andy Torick and vice president Harry Batch with the traditional gifts of bread and salt, welcoming him to our humble parish. Bishop Daniel jokingly asked if Harry had baked the bread himself. His Grace explained that while Holy Ghost may be a small, humble parish, by celebrating Liturgy with a bishop representing the Western Eparchy, Holy Ghost is concelebrating with the entirety of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on its journey through the Great Fast.
Parish pastor Very Reverend Father Robert Popichak presented the cross and holy water, welcoming His Grace and asking for his prayers for the congregation. This marks the third time Bishop Daniel has visited the Slickville parish, and he remarked with pleasure how warmly he is greeted on every visit, and how much he enjoys visiting small parish families.
Before Liturgy began, His Grace tonsured Alexander Popichak to the office of Reader. Bishop Daniel explained that becoming a reader is a calling; yet it is also making the choice to serve the church, and is a responsibility that entails more than just reading the Epistle each Sunday: it is a commitment to education of scripture to further educate parishioners in scripture. His Grace noted that Alexander plans to become a journalist, and explained that writing and interpreting the world’s events works alongside the office of Reader: by reading and interpreting scripture, a Reader is expected to relate God’s word to his people – the parishioners of Holy Ghost.
Following the tonsuring, His Grace celebrated the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great alongside Father Robert and Seminarians Tadei Surak and Vladysalv Huk from St. Sophia Theological Seminary in South Bound Brook, NJ.
In his homily, Bishop Daniel likened fasting during Great Lent to the restoration of mosaics in St. Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul. We are all born pure, like the beautiful mosaics on the walls of Hagia Sophia but over time we cover that mosaic with sin as the Ottomans had covered the mosaics with layers of plaster and paint. By sinning, we deface that beautiful image of God that we were made in. Through prayer and focused fasting, we can begin to restore ourselves spiritually and remove that sinful plaster to reveal the beauty within.
His Grace explained that fasting is important to this process, for it is through focusing on and examining every action that we can begin to recognize how we fall short in our spiritual journey and what we must work on to become closer to God.
Following Divine Liturgy, His Grace presented the newly-tonsured Reader Alexander Popichak with a certificate. Vladyka Daniel also asked God’s blessings upon parish priest Father Robert, Alexander, as well as Pani Matka Regina, Matthew, and the rest of the Parish Family. The congregation responded by asking God to grant Many Years to His Grace.
Bishop Daniel then assembled everyone in attendance for a group photo and thanked them all for welcoming him with love. After the photo, everyone went to the basement church hall for a lovely Lenten luncheon. His Grace spent time visiting and enjoying the hospitality of our parish before leaving to travel to again eastward. He left behind a feeling of love and joy with his visit, with many of our parish family asking when he will return again.
Archpastoral Visit of Bishop Daniel to Slickville, PA - 03/21/2016
Photos by Matthew Popichak and Seminarian Vladyslav Huk