Celebration and commemoration often go hand-in-hand. Five years have flown by, but, it seems like yesterday that Metropolitan Constantine of Blessed Memory was celebrating the 40th anniversary of his episcopal consecration surrounded by clergy and faithful from around the nation and the world! Those gathered basked in the glow of His Beatitude as he spoke of his early years, talking fondly of Pittsburgh, of his family and church family, and happily expounding upon the joys of All Saints Camp. Everyone had smiled and rejoiced along with His Beatitude on such a momentous anniversary. However, all too soon their tears of joy, were replaced with tears of sorrow, as Metropolitan Constantine fell asleep in the Lord only a day later.
It has now been five years, and while the sun shone brightly just miles away, the skies over Pittsburgh were dark and heavy, as the rain began to fall over the Pittsburgh area. The faithful joined His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. as he visited St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox parish (Southside Pittsburgh), along with Deacon john Charest and Seminarians Subdeacon Mykola Zomchak and Ihor Protsak of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary. During the hierarchical Divine Liturgy, heartfelt prayers were offered for the peaceful repose of Metropolitan Constantine.
Those gathered in prayer, fondly recalled his life. Having completed his studies at St. Andrew College, and St. Vladimir Seminary in New York, Theodore Buggan (later to be Metropolitan Constantine) returned to the Pittsburgh area to study at Duquesne University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree. It was during these years that he became associated with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, and was eventually ordained as a Subdeacon by Metropolitan John (Theodorovich) the first Metropolitan of our Holy Church. Just a few years later in 1967, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood in his home parish of St. Vladimir in Pittsburgh, and a few years later in 1972, as a tonsured monk, Constantine was consecrated as the first American born bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. While Metropolitan Constantine leaves behind a legacy of hard work on behalf of the Church, he is most fondly remembered for his focus, and efforts aimed towards growing, training and supporting the youth of the Church. To that end he was instrumental calling and conducting retreats, working with the Education Commission, the Ukrainian Orthodox League, and All Saints Camp.
Having concluded the Divine Liturgy, the prayers continued as His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, and the clergy and faithful from the local Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan area and Youngstown, OH, proceeded to the gravesite of Metropolitan Constantine in Pittsburgh where he is buried next to his mother and other family members. It seemed as all of nature took a moment to join the faithful in mourning the loss of His Beatitude. With the rain falling, the trees seemed to weep, their branches arching low to the ground as tears of rainwater dripped from their tendrils. The bushes and flowers all joined in the sorrow, their bright colors dampened and demure in the hazy light of a sunless afternoon.
However, while we mourn the passing of Metropolitan Constantine, we rejoice in the Lord and His promise of life everlasting. It is with this joy that the day concluded after the gravesite service, as everyone raised their voices through the din of the rain and exclaimed loudly that Christ is Risen! Trampling down death by death and to those in the tombs bestowing life!
On a sunny Sunday morning, having received the Body and Blood of Christ, the faithful who had gathered within the walls of St. Andrew Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, NJ. pushed forward to join His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, as he served a Litia on the 5 year anniversary of the repose of the first American born Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
Metropolitan Constantine, of blessed memory, would have rejoiced to see young and younger gathered together in remembrance of him. Many of those present remarked how it seemed like just yesterday that he was standing at this very spot, and preaching to them.
Surrounded by the altar servers, seminarians and clergy all dressed in Paschal white, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony did not focus on the loss of Metropolitan Constantine, but, on what was gained by his life and works. His Eminence explained how grateful he is for all the effort and work that Metropolitan Constantine had devoted to growing this Church, which now prospers thanks to his dedication.
The service concluded with not only wishing that Metropolitan Constantine’s memory be eternal, but, in the promise of the Risen Lord, and life eternal.
Remembering Metropolitan Constantine… 5 Years Later - 05/22/2017
Photos by Subdeacon Mykola Zomchak and Seminarian Ihor Protsak