A sense of wonder and awe filled the mission community of the Four Holy Evangelists of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in Bel Air, MD as His Eminence Archbishop Daniel visited the mission for the celebration of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (according to Gregorian Calendar) and for the ordination to the Holy Priesthood of Deacon Charles Sanderson on December 25, 2019.
A faith-filled congregation celebrated the Nativity of Christ with the hierarch and witnessed as Fr. Charles received the grace of the Holy Priesthood from the hands of one of the spiritual fathers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. Greeting newly-ordained Fr. Charles, Archbishop Daniel, reminded him of the words of St. Polycarp, who said that “a priest must stand at the altar in such a way that the people do not see him, but they see Christ.”
Speaking in the presence of several clergy, Rev. Fr. Gregory Czumak (pastor of Four Holy Evangelists Ukrainian Orthodox mission in Bel Air, MD), Very Rev. Fr. Petro Landvytovych (pastor of St. Sophia Church in Kyiv, Ukraine), Very Rev. Fr. Orest Poukhalsky (pastor of Sts Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Glen Spay, NY), Very Rev. Fr. Stepan Bilogan (clergyman of Sts Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox mission in West Islip, NY), Fr. Charles promised to serve as a shepherd of souls, not just in his obedience, but also by worthily living out the sacred calling of the priesthood through teaching the faith, faithfully celebrating the Holy Mysteries, sharing God’s mercy with the people entrusted to his care, and above all, to become more united with Christ every day of his life.
In the homily, while addressing Fr. Charles and everyone in attendance, Archbishop Daniel reflected on the Holy Mystery of Priesthood and stated: “May the Holy Eucharist that you will celebrate always fill you with wonder and awe, immense gratitude and love - a living icon - as Christ passes through your hands, and your voice and your heart.”
The priestly ministry is “painstakingly and prayerfully painted, with each stroke expressing something of the mystery of God and His saving love as you absolve people from their sins and break open the Word and make the Eucharist present,” he said.
The priesthood is an invitation to walk a path of holiness, a model of integrity that never seeks privilege, Archbishop Daniel added. It’s also an invitation to rediscover through prayer a priest’s relationship with Christ.
“At the heart of any priest’s ministry must be a living relationship with Christ so that you begin to see as Christ sees and love as Christ loves,” he said.
“At the Eucharistic table – the sacred Altar … you will find the strength to live out your call to holiness, and the strength for pastoral ministry,” Vladyka Daniel said in the homily. “It is also here that you will fall in love with Christ in a deeper way. You are not called primarily ‘to do’ but ‘to be.’ People will come to you because they know that you ‘taste and see the goodness of the Lord.’”
Distributing the Holy Eucharist to the faithful in attendance, Fr. Charles prayerfully recited the prayer of Communion, thus calling the congregation in attendance to submit themselves to the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Rev. Fr. Gregory Czumak, pastor of the parish community, greeted everyone in attendance with the glorious feast of the Nativity of our Lord.
Following the veneration of the Nativity of our Lord icon and the blessing from the hands of the newly ordained priest Charles, the entire congelation was treated to a Christmas luncheon in honor of Fr. Charles, his wife Melania and their son George.
Photos by Subdeacon Yaroslav Bilohan