UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
XIV's Regular Sobor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Eparchy of South America Convened in Curitiba, Brazil
About a hundred delegates from Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina gathered for the 14th Triennial SOBOR of the South American Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is under spiritual omophorion of the Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony the Sobor was convened during the weekend of 2-4 September 2016. His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and Bishop Daniel traveled to Curitiba, Brazil, in order to preside over and participate in the proceedings of the Sobor.
On Friday evening, September 2, 2016, the hierarchs presided over the Vespers service with about 100 delegates that were arriving to Brazil for the Sobor until the early hours of Saturday, September 3, 2016. All three archpastors addressed the delegates in Ukrainian, Portuguese, English and Spanish languages, calling upon them to enter the Sobor sessions seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit upon the delegates of the sacred gathering, as they address spiritual and social issues that effect the parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in South America.
Early hours of Saturday morning gathered clergy and delegates of the Eparchy with the hierarchs for the Moleben service, by which the official XIV's Sobor of the Church was opened. It must be mentioned, that liturgical services of the Sobor were served by one of the priests representing one of three countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay), where the faithful of the Church established their parishes some 100 years ago.
Following the Moleben service, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony opened the first formal session of the SOBOR with a statement, in which the Metropolitan stated: “In the face of the secularization that reaches unapologetically into every corner of the world with the goal of turning all mankind away from Christ through the sometimes sick pleasures and obsessions of daily life, we Ukrainian Orthodox Christians must follow the example of our forefathers in our willingness to say “NO!” to anything that tempts us away from Christ, His Church and His Love. He gave us two new commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with ALL your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it - Love your neighbor as yourself.” These are the rules by which we must live our lives – without hesitation, without fear and with courage – as did our forefathers, among whom were thousands willing to give their very lives for Christ and fellow man – all the way from the Princedom of Kyiv through the Tsarist and Communist eras to this very day. So many gave their lives that the saintly historians of the Monastery of the Caves (Pecherska Lavra) commented that the rivers of the nation ran red from the blood of the martyrs. Let us ask ourselves today as we proceed through our time together – do we have such commitment to Christ – or even a small measure of such commitment. If the response is negative to any degree, then we all know that we have work to do – on ourselves as individuals and collectively as the Church…
I, for one, along with Archbishop Jeremiah and Bishop Daniel believe that we are still capable of working miracles in a very secularized world. I believe that we can change our own lives so that we can change the lives of others! All that is necessary is to follow the example of our Lord – of Love, Compassion and Mercy in every aspect our lives. You all know that good feeling that floods through our mind, body and soul when we are able to do something good for someone else, when we make someone happy, when we make someone whole. Such good feelings do not have to be temporary or very rare. It can be the permanent state of our life if we follow the two new commandments.
My prayer this day is that you all begin to comprehend the beauty of what has been handed down to you from your forefathers, but also what has been handed down to you of our Lord’s teaching and guidance through Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition through the Holy Apostles of all ages and through the lives of millions of saints who pass from this life directly into the presence of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – without having to await the Final Judgment when our Lord returns to establish God’s Kingdom here on earth. Sainthood is a real possibility for all of us! All the icons of the saints of history in our Churches serve the purpose of reminding us of this. It is as if they are saying to us: “Having put on Christ through Holy Baptism and receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit through Holy Chrismation, YOU are called to be one of us!” The icons are not just decorations – they serve as windows into Heaven permitting us to see what our real goal in life is – to become one with God!
May all you think, say and do during this holy convocation – the Sobor – be with this goal in mind. I am praying for you throughout these specific days and beyond. I ask to be remembered in your prayers because it is through those prayers that I am strengthened to live up to my own preaching! May the Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
Following the official opening of the SOBOR a greeting from His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew was announced by Metropolitan Antony:
Your Excellency Metropolitan Antony of Hierapolis, First Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA and Diaspora, our beloved brother in the Lord: grace be to you and peace from God.
It is with great joy that we greet the Christ-loving participants, clergy and laity, of this triennial meeting of the Eparchy of South America of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, organized by our beloved brother His Excellency Archbishop Jeremiah of Aspendos, takingplaceSeptember2-4, 2016. We commend the realization of this meeting, which will provide the faithful laborers of this Eparchy with the opportunity to gather "in one place," to discuss both administrative matters, as well as the pastoral cares and concerns of the people of God gathered in your region.
As you begin your sessions, we encourage all of you, personally and collectively, to consider and evaluate the importance and need for spiritual renewal and re-evangelization, most especially in light of the increased secularization pervading our world. We are, as our Lord says in the Gospel, "the salt of the Earth." We are not salt for our own sake, as St. John reminds us, but for the world's sake, because the Gospel was entrusted to us. This understanding presents the Christian with an opportunity for serious introspection. St. John reminds us of this lofty calling in one of his homilies: "Do not think that you are destined for easy struggles or unimportant tasks. You are the salt of the earth."
It is this consciousness that has given strength and endurance and inspired every good virtue in our Martyric and Holy Church over the centuries. May it be of benefit to us as well, amidst a world embroiled in conflict, as we endeavor with discernment and sacrifice to fulfill the continuation of the abovementioned Gospel passage: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
Assuring Your Excellency and the faithful clergy and Laity of the Eparchy of South America of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA of our fervent prayers for a beneficial and reinvigorating gathering over the next few days, as well as for your beloved homeland Ukraine, we embrace you and remain with much love and honor.
At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Indiction, 2016 Ecclesiastical New Year
Your Excellency’s beloved brother in Christ,
+Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
The Ruling hierarch of the South American Eparchy, His Eminence Archbishop Jeremiah addressed the Sobor body with his Archpastoral remarks, reflecting upon the last three years of successful ministries of the Eparchy. The archbishop reflected upon the need of new vocations and dedicated clergy service in the Eparchy. Moreover, a report was presented on the status of several seminarians that are studying in various theological seminaries, in particular the need to reestablish a closer relationship between Sts. Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary of South America and St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary (UOC of the USA) in South Bound Brook, NJ.
The next several hours of the day were dedicated to the reports from about 30 parishes of the Eparchy during which various ministries of the Church were discussed in detail. Among the issues discussed was a need for a refreshed approach to pastoral life of parishes, providing emphasis on the needs of the younger generation that is constantly threatened by the challenges of modern society.
The Ukrainian Orthodox parishes of Paraguay reported a great improvement in the pastoral ministry of the local communities, while supporting the ministry of the local Ukrainian Orthodox monastery of the Meeting of our Lord outside of Fram, Paraguay, under the spiritual care of Ihumen Dimitry.
Moreover, Archbishop Jeremiah reported on the activities of the Assembly of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops of South America as well as various Ecumenical dialogues in which the clergy and parishes of the Eparchy participate.
Once the formal resolutions were presented, the Sobor delegates offered their words of gratitude to Metropolitan Antony for his guidance and presence of His Grace Bishop Daniel, who offered greetings of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and actively participated in the working sessions of the Clergy-Laity Gathering.
The Sobor ended on Sunday morning with the Archpastoral Divine Liturgy, commemorating the 1028th Anniversary of Christianity in Kyivan Rus-Ukraine, served by His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Archbishop Jeremiah, Bishop Daniel with numerous clergy from Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina concelebrating.
XIV's Sobor in Curitiba, Brazil - 09/04/16
Photos by Dorotea Tchopko