UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Lenten Mission 2016 at St. Andrew’s in Boston
By Jane Yavarow
On April 16 & 17, 2016, St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Boston held its annual Lenten Mission. The parish was extremely fortunate to have His Grace Bishop Daniel, as its guest for the weekend.
On Saturday evening, parishioners as well as visitors from St. Michael’s in Woonsocket, RI and other local Orthodox parishes gathered to worship together. As His Grace Bishop Daniel heard confessions, Fr. Borislav Kroner, assisted by Deacon Paul Cherkas and altar servers Alexis Levchuk and Dennis Levchuk celebrated Great Vespers. Responses were offered by Fr. Roman Tarnavsky, Deacon Michael, Hierodeacon Vasyl, and seminarians Ihor Protsak and Mykola Zomchak, as well as members of the choir of St. Andrew’s.
The church, bathed in evening candlelight, was the perfect setting for this beautiful service. At the conclusion of Vespers, Bishop Daniel began the Lenten Mission in earnest by putting on his teaching hat. His Grace brought with him a set of 12 sacred relics from the Pecherska Lavra in Kiev encased in a box labeled, “Synaxis of the Saints of Kiev-Rus” as well as a 16th Century icon of the Venerable Fathers of the Monastery of Kyiv Caves. He used these physical items to prompt the faithful into contemplating who is a saint, and just how does one become saintly?
After this mini-lesson, all in attendance gathered in the church hall for a light Lenten Supper prepared by members of St. Olha’s Sisterhood. Following the meal, Bishop Daniel again took to the floor to speak on his theme for the evening, “Enter to Worship, Exit to Serve.” Through his talent for storytelling and use of humor, His grace made it most clear that living a fulfilling and meaningful Christian life does not simply mean attending church on Sunday, but more importantly, how you serve other people day to day. He stressed that we must step outside our comfort zone to do things for others, so that they feel the love and presence of Christ that we have within us and want to share with them. His presentation was an extremely powerful reminder of what we should be doing during Great Lent, so that in the future, it becomes part of our everyday life.
On Sunday morning His Grace celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. Andrew’s. He was greeted with flowers by flower girl Maria Custodio, bread and salt by Parish Board President, Jane Yavarow and the holy cross by St. Andrew’s pastor, Roman Tarnavsky. From the first “God, Grant you Many Years, Master!” to the final “Amen,” responses were beautifully rendered by the dedicated 20 member church choir under the direction of Jane Yavarow and Eugene Moroz.
In keeping with the idea of a Lenten Mission, Vladyka aptly took time out during the Liturgy to educate the faithful about what was happening. He explained the history of why we pray for the Catechumens. He had us experience the lost tradition of offering the “Kiss of Peace” to our church family members, and had the congregation recite the Nicaean Creed together as one united body. Finally, before it was consecrated into the body of Jesus, he brought down from the altar the portion of the Prosphora called the Ahnec, or the Lamb, which represents our Lord who takes on the sins of the world. He showed us how this would be portioned out for communion.
Bishop Daniel’s thoughtful bilingual sermon challenged us with a question. “What would you ask of Jesus if he stood before you today?” Again he tied this in with the idea of serving, suggesting that we should not ask for things for ourselves, but for the greater humanity.
After the extraordinary three-hour Liturgy, all were invited to partake in a Lenten luncheon buffet coordinated by project manager, Vera Geba. Many generous parishioners donated their favorite Lenten dishes for all to enjoy.
To conclude the Lenten Mission, Bishop Daniel filled the attendees in on what is happening at the Consistory regarding the Church’s strategic plan for the future. He also encouraged individuals to think about church camp for the youth and mission work for young adults. He spoke specifically about the opportunity to serve in the orphanages the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA sponsors in Ukraine. It was apropos then, at this time, that Vera Geba, Co-President of St. Olha’s Sisterhood, presented Bishop Daniel with a $1,000 check for the orphanages - $300 from a fundraiser run by the youth of the parish and $700 from the Sisterhood. For this, His Grace was very grateful.