St. Vladimir Cathedral Celebrates 93rd Anniversary of Foundation & Feast of the Protection (Pokrova) of the Mother of God

(All photographs in this article are the work and courtesy of Walter Katolik – the “Camera Man”)

St. Vladimir Cathedral Celebrates 93rd Anniversary and Pokrova Feast Day.  The parish organization began in 1925 and was formally chartered by our UOC of USA First Metropolitan John (Theodorovich), who established it as his Episcopal See, the first in the history of the UOC.  The present Cathedral Church edifice was consecrated in 1966 and has served as the spiritual home of hundreds, if not thousands, of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians for 53 years.

In 1930 an edifice was purchased at the corner of Germantown Avenue and Berks Street. In addition to a residence, the Print Shop "Dnipro," a parish-based Credit Union and a viable Diocesan Seminary were a part of the original complex. Of the thirteen priests who served the Cathedral parish family, Rt. Rev. Protopresbyter John Sawchuk served the longest and was instrumental in forming the "Dnipro" printing department and assisting in the Diocesan Seminary Program at the Cathedral.

Changing demographics necessitated steps to relocate the Cathedral See. In 1965, Metropolitan John consecrated property purchased for the new complex at the corner of North Fifth and Independence Streets.

Construction began on November 1, 1965 by the DeLoro Construction Firm. Mr. Joseph Podgursky supervised the construction of the Neo-Byzantine Style edifice designed by Nick Chimes. Completed in July, 1966, the new edifice was consecrated on September 11, 1966 by Metropolitan John Theodorovich, assisted by Bishop Alexander (Novitsky), Cathedral Vicar Rt. Rev. Protopresbyter John Sawchuk, Fr. Stephen Bilak and local clergy. 

On Sunday, October 6, 2019, on a beautiful fall day, a large number of faithful gathered at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox in Philadelphia to celebrate the 93rd Anniversary of its founding and Pokrova Feast Day.

The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by the First Hierarch of the UOC of the USA and Ruling Hierarch of the Eastern Eparchy His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and Very Reverend Taras Naumenko, Dean of St. Vladimir Cathedral.

The Metropolitan was greeted by the president of the parish board, Andrew Passyn, with the traditional bread and salt. The children of the parish presented flowers and shared welcoming hugs with the Metropolitan. Very Rev. Taras Naumenko welcomed his Eminence Metropolitan Antony to his cathedral parish and asked him to remember the founding pioneers who saw the need to establish a Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Philadelphia. He also requested prayers for the faithful of the Cathedral community and he assured the Hierarch of continued prayers for him and the entire UOC of the USA.

During his homily, His Eminence spoke of the importance of the Mother of God to all Christians.  She is “one of us”, who fully comprehends our needs and our struggles and prays for us without ceasing, carrying our prayers to her beloved Son and our God.  She manifests herself to us in many ways, most effectively through the many miraculous icons to which the faithful have flocked throughout history and by her prayers she leads us along the “narrow path” to salvation.

His Eminence then painted a picture of what the history of any parish is all about.  He spoke of Gospel reading of the Sunday before the Nativity of our Lord – the Gospel of the Generations – the forty-two generations before the nativity and incarnation of our Lord.  He stated that this reading is found at the beginning of the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, and of the entire New Testament because the contemporaries of St. Matthew who were hearing the “Good News” were essentially still the Hebrew people.  “They defined themselves through the history of their nation and its interaction with the God, Who acted directly to guide them throughout – with great reward for faithfulness and punishment for abandonment of faith.  It was important to convey to these readers that Jesus Christ was the descendent of all these previous generations and therefore, part of their history.

“The Gospel is also extremely important in teaching the first readers and all the generations that followed – including us, the Orthodox Christians of 2019 – that although history reminds us who we are and from where we came, it was all leading to something that would change the course of history and God’s relationship with mankind – the Incarnation of the Son of God – and what this would mean for all the future of mankind – its history up to the present day and unto eternity.  God is Love and the Son of God sacrifices Himself in the ultimate act of Love for the remission of our sins and for our salvation. 

“It is good to know our history, but we must forever concentrate on where that history has led us and our responsibility to make disciples of first, our own families and nations, but also the entire world.  May we resolve at the celebration of this anniversary to fulfill this mission as our forefathers and founders of the parish did for us.”

The Holy Temple was filled with a selection of unique hymns sung by the Cathedral choir under the direction of Karen Ferraro and the church school children’s choir sounded like angels singing “With Fear and Humility”.

Following the Liturgy a celebratory luncheon was held at the parish hall. A warm atmosphere filled with smiles, excitement and children laughter filled the air. Superb Ukrainian dishes were prepared by the members of the Sisterhood and Andrew Passyn who always presents exclusive Halychyna style recipes carried on from generation to generation.

Fr. Taras Naumenko announced to the faithful that on this very day, 6 October, 34 years ago in 1985, His Eminence was consecrated to the episcopacy of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church.  He thanked His Eminence for the decades of service in Christ’s Vineyard and wished him in behalf of all the faithful of the Cathedral parish family, all good health, peace and happiness form many more years to come.  In expressing his gratitude, His Eminence stated that in six weeks he will begin the 48th year of his service as a priest of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.  He asked the faithful present to keep him in their daily prayers, that his health will be such that he will be able to join them once again – in seven years – to celebrate the Centennial of the Cathedral Parish of St. Vladimir.  He said that it is his firm intention to be with them all at that time.

The parish body would like to thank his Eminence Metropolitan Antony for the inspirational visit and everyone for their hard work and dedication in making this event come true.

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