UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Bright Saturday of St. Thomas Sunday Pilgrimage at the Spiritual Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in South Bound Brook/Somerset, NJ
The rainy morning of Bright Saturday of 2016 Annual St. Thomas Sunday Weekend Pilgrimage started with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, NJ.
As the prayerful chanting of CHRIST is RISEN penetrated the hearts of those in attendance, the walls of the Memorial Church once again felt the historical presence of traditional prayers on the weekend following Glorious Pascha celebration. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, and in his presence as well as in the presence of His Eminence Archbishop Jeremiah of Brazil and South America – His Grace Bishop Daniel led the liturgical service with Very Rev. Fr. Yuriy Siwko, Very Rev. Fr. Volodymyr Muzychka, Very Rev. Roman Shak, Very Rev. Fr. Mykola Filyk, Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Perkins, Rev. Fr. Zinoviy Zharsky, Rev. Fr. Vasyl Pasakas, Rev. Fr. Vasyl Shak and Deacon Adrian Mazur concelebrating. The responses to the very first prayer service of the pilgrimage weekend were chanted by the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary.
Following the chanting of the Gospel reading, Vladyka Daniel delivered a short sermon reflecting upon the lives of so many saintly men and women of the Christian Calendar, especially touching upon the life of Holy Martyr Sava, whose memory was celebrated that particular day. The bishop called those in attendance to live out their Faith, to practice it beyond the doors of parish temples – because the mandate of Christ is to preach the Word of God throughout the world and not only in the comfort of our parish temples.
Numerous faithful approached the Holy Chalice to receive the most Holy Eucharist from the hands of their bishop. In conclusion of the service all in attendance venerated the ancient icon of the Venerable fathers of the Monastery of Kyiv Caves as well as approached for prayerful veneration the relics of 12 venerables of the above-mentioned monastery.
The Ukrainian Cultural Center was once again bustling with activity. Numerous Church organizations presented displays about their ministry among the faithful of the Church and in Ukraine. In addition, dozens of vendors offered Ukrainian folk art and other cultural, religious and historical item for sale. The local Pokrova Sisterhood, the staff of Ukrainian Cultural Center and parents of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church School treated the visitors of the Metropolia Center of the UOC of the USA to various Ukrainian food items and pastries.
All the points of interest of the Spiritual Center remained opened for the weekend so that the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful, along with the numerous visitors to the center, had an opportunity to partake in the day-to-day life of the National Headquarters of the UOC of the USA, known as a the “Ukrainian Jerusalem” not only here in the USA, but far beyond the borders of our country, including Ukraine. Among those visitors wasa group of parishioners from Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Trenton, NJ (Rev. Fr. Zinoviy Zharsky – pastor) that arrived to the Metropolia Center for the pilgrimage as well as to learn about the history of the spiritual headquarters of the Church.
During the annual St. Thomas Sunday pilgrimage, the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary (also located on the grounds of the Metropolia Center) embarked on a fundraising effort in order to raise funds towards the recent, and needed, renovations of the Seminary.
The current full-time student body of the seminary - Subdeacon Ivan Tchopko, Subdeacon Volodymyr Yavorksyi, Seminarian Yurii Bobko, Seminarian Mykola Zomchak, Seminarian Tadey Surak, Seminarian Ihor Protsak, Seminarian Hryhorii Matviiv, Seminarian Mykhaylo Bokalo, Seminarian Vladyslav Huk and Seminarian Vasyl Hrytskiv, working closely with Fr. Vasyl and pani-matka Oksana Pasakas - prepared for the fundraiser by making homemade chocolates. Sold during the weekend’s event were homemade chocolate crosses, chocolate spring flowers, chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered strawberries.
The fundraising efforts and sale of these chocolate goods were to help raise funds towards the cost of the recent renovations. The Seminary student body sold the chocolates in the Cultural Center on Saturday. It was a wonderful surprise and blessing that the chocolates were such a hit that they sold out in one day! Their booth at the Cultural Center included a photo display of current and graduated seminarians—their spiritual lives, life in the seminary, graduation and ordinations. Several of the Seminarians were at the table to interact with pilgrims and shoppers, discussing their experiences at the Seminary. Along with this, the table also included a photo display of before and after pictures of the Seminary kitchen and pantry and the third floor living quarters. The kitchen was renovated during summer 2013 and the third floor was just renovated in January 2015.
In the late hours of Saturday afternoon, everyone had a chance to tour St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary and later on joined the seminarians of the Church for a picnic at the Seminary, which was sponsored by the Seminary’s UOL chapter. Visitors were treated to hot dogs and hamburgers grilled by the seminarians. Both Hierarchs - Metropolitan Antony and Bishop Daniel joined the picnic in order to learn about the culinary skills of the student body.
The picnic concluded with Vespers served in the Three Hierarchs Seminary Chapel served by Very Rev. Taras Naumenko. In conclusion of the service, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony welcomed the visitors to the Seminary and explained to everyone in attendance the role of the Church’s academic pastoral institution and the rigorous formational spiritual and academic schedule that seminarians of the Church follow.
As the rain stopped for the afternoon hours, more and more visitors began to arrive to the spiritual headquarters of the UOC of the USA. Over 1200 people walked through the gates of St. Andrew Cemetery and Metropolia Center in order to share in Paschal joy with the loved ones who found eternal rest at St. Andrew Cemetery.
The synoptic report promised a sunny day of St. Thomas Sunday. With this in mind the staff of the Metropolia Center of the Church looks forward to welcome numerous visitors and to treat the youth of the Church to the Ice-Cream social at St. Sophia Seminary, starting at 3pm on Sunday, May 8, 2016.
Bright Saturday of St. Thomas Sunday Pilgrimage - 05/07/2016
Photos by Hryhorii Matviiv, Fr. Vasyl and Pani-matka Oksana Pasakas