On Wednesday, March 7, 2017, the clergy of NY/NJ Deanery, under the leadership of Protopresbyter Taras Chubenko, for the first time during this year’s Lenten journey gathered together at Three Holy Hierarchs Ukrainian Orthodox Chapel of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Bound Brook, NJ) with His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy and President of Consistory of the UOC of the USA for the celebration of the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts.
Joining the hierarch at the altar of the Seminary’s temple were Protopresbyter Taras Chubenko, Dean of the Deanery and pastor of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Carteret, NJ; Very Rev. Fr. Yuriy Siwko of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, NJ; Very Rev. Fr. Oleh Hucul of Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Maplewood, NJ; Rev. Fr. Myroslav Shirta of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bayonne, NJ; Rev. Fr. Vasyl Pasakas of the Nativity of the Birth-Giver of God Ukrainian Orthodox Church in South Plainfield, NJ; Deacon Ivan Tchopko of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Bound Brook, NJ and the following clergy in attendance: Very Rev. Fr. Volodymyr Muzychka of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in New York, NY; Very Rev. Fr. Todor Mazur of the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in New York City, NY; Rev. Fr. Zinoviy Zharsky of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Terenton, NJ and Rev. Fr. Ihor Melnyk.
The student choir of St. Sophia Seminary chanted the responses to the Lenten service. Following the Holy Communion, Fr. Oleh Hucul received a blessing from Vladyka Daniel to deliver Lenten sermon, calling everyone’s attention to the message of Lent and our ability to identify ourselves with the Divinity of Christ.
Archbishop Daniel, following the dismissal, thanked Fr. Taras Chubenko – Dean of NY/NJ Deanery and the Deanery clergy for the visit to St. Sophia Seminary and the entire congregation of visitors and guests to the Seminary’s chapel for their prayers as the Second Week of Lent draws to conclusion. Vladyka shortly reflected on the importance of Lenten journey and calling upon those in attendance to always be mindful of the great verse/phrase from the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, have mercy on me…” Further in his lesson, the hierarch spoke about the majesty of Christ’s Pascha, noting how it must be met with a pure heart, one that is not burdened with passionate desires and the vanities of this life. Herein is opened for us the spiritual significance of Great Lent, whose true value is reflected in the need to cleanse our senses and minds through abstinence.
After the Liturgy, the clergy and faithful, along with the numerous guests in attendance, continued their interaction with His Eminence Archbishop Daniel in the Seminary’s refectory, which generously provided all with a simple, Lenten, and delicious home-cooked meal, prepared by the volunteers under the leadership of St. Sophia Seminary’s chef – Pani Maria Morozovska.