His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, arrived in Oklahoma City during the early evening of Friday, July 14th where the parish pastor, Archimandrite Raphael, greeted Vladyka and seminarian Ihor Protsak at the airport. This is Vladyka Daniel’s first time to his parish in Central Oklahoma since being elevated to Archbishop.
On Sunday morning, Vladyka Daniel, seminarian Ihor Protsak, and Father Raphael arrived at the temple and began preparations for the Liturgy. Soon the temple was filled with the faithful who ranged from a few months to 92 years of age. After a procession with the altar servers from the parish hall, Archimandrite Raphael, Parish Council Chairman Michael Smith and St. Mary Sisterhood representative Constanta Palivoda greeted His Eminence at the entrance to the temple. Archbishop proceeded to the center of the temple where he blessed brothers Ian, Luka and Radomir Baker as Taper Bearers and set aside Mikita Dzialendzik as a Reader in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
In addition to His Eminence, Fr. Raphael, seminarian Ihor Protsak, two subdeacons, two readers and five taper bearers served within the altar. God’s word was delivered by His Eminence. Vladyka gave some examples of how we can be better Orthodox Christians by helping others and through selfless acts of kindness. He spoke of how some can be rich in life by having all the material things and yet be spiritually poor. Liturgy resumed and soon the faithful would come forward to receive the Mysteries which were administered by His Eminence.
Before the dismissal, and before moving to the parish hall for a luncheon prepared by St. Mary’s Sisterhood, our Spiritual Father spoke of the Icon cards he brought in remembrance of his visit. The icon is that of the Theotokos and infant Christ of the miraculous myrrh-streaming icon from St. George’s Orthodox Church in Taylor, Pennsylvania. After venerating the hand Cross, which contains a relic of the True Cross, those present were anointed with some of the miraculous myrrh from the icon of the Theotokos.
The next couple of hours were spent enjoying a meal prepared and provided by the ladies of the sisterhood. Everyone wanted to visit with and have a photo opportunity with His Eminence. Vladyka Daniel could not have been more accommodating.
As if the day weren’t already lengthy enough, we drove St. Mary’s Parish Cemetery in nearby Harrah, Oklahoma, where His Eminence held a memorial service for those who most recently reposed and all others interred there, including St. Mary’s oldest and lifelong member, Mary Manek Erbin, who, at 109 years of age. Later in the day, when the heat and humidity were not so oppressive, we went to the ranch of Roger (Micah) Rogers where seminarian Ihor Protsak took to the cowboy way of riding like a duck takes to water. He is a natural! Yee haw buckaroo!
All in all, it was an exciting, enjoyable – but all too short – visit in the old Indian Territory. Ve con Dios Arzobispo Daniel. ¡Eres amado!
Written by Subdeacon Robby Wall