Митрополит Антоній відзначає 35 річницю Архиєрейського служіння
Metropolitan Antony Celebrates 35th Anniversary of Archpastoral Service
As the sun rose on the chilly Autumn Day at the Metropolia Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, the clergy and faithful of the Church began to gather to pay tribute, and to honor, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony as he celebrates his 35thanniversary of Episcopal Consecration.
The patio of the St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary Chapel of the Three Holy Hierarchs was transformed into an outdoor Altar, and worship area. The dome of the church was replaced by the dome of the heavens, the columns of the nave were replaced by the majestic trunks and far reaching branches of the trees, which scattered their leaves upon the scene.
Concelebrating with His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Prime Hierarch of the UOC of the USA, was His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy, as well as a number of local clergy who drove for hours to join the celebration.
The Divine Liturgy began as the clergy emerged from the side door of the chapel and stood beneath the trees, the warm sun glowing about them. The seminarians of the St. Sophia Seminary sang the responses, joined every once in a while, by the birds in the trees.
The Liturgy flowed as if on angels’ wings, with the day’s Gospel being read explaining about the conception and birth of St. John the Forerunner of Christ. The Metropolitan continued by earnestly praying for all his flock, all who are sick with Covid-19, and especially for all those who have had an impact on his life over the past 35 years of his Episcopal service, both living and reposed in the Lord, especially his mother, Dorothy, who passed away a few years ago.
As the Liturgy was served, a slight breeze teased and played with the clergy’s vestments, and cloths covering the tables, lending an air of the surreal to the scene, which was only amplified as the brightly colored falling leaves danced in the air as they descended seemingly from the heavens to twirl around the clergy and land at their feet.
As the seminarians sang, the clergy partook of the Holy Eucharist, followed by many of the faithful that regardless of the pandemic made their way to the celebration.
Upon the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony took a moment to express his heartfelt greeting and gratitude to those who had joined in his celebration. His Eminence explained that over the years he has relied upon the Grace of the Holy Spirit to help him through his ministry. He reiterated that he has not accomplished anything through his own efforts and will, but, through the Grace of God, he has been able to simply do that which the Lord expected of him, allowing him to touch the lives of those entrusted to him.
Vladyka Antony thanked God for permitting him to once again stand and serve before His altar, for the first time in 6-months, due to the pandemic. He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, the gathered clergy, and the faithful standing on the lawn, and joining via mobile devices, for taking the time and joining him for this milestone occasion in his life.
His Eminence continued by stating that the sacrifice offered today was not to celebrate his anniversary, but, it was the universal sacrifice of Christ’s Holy Church which is offered every time Liturgy is served, not for our own glory or satisfaction, but, for God, who entrusts us to stand at the altar even though He has hundreds of thousands of angels before His Throne who could serve, and yet, he entrusts us to be here and serve the clergy and the faithful of His Church.
Metropolitan Antony reminded us of just how good God is to each of us. The Lord has allowed that we serve Him and to show His love to all those around us. Sometimes we are weak, however, we have a great opportunity before us, and we must always be mindful of our responsibilities to others, and before God.
His Eminence once again thanked Archbishop Daniel for his lovely greeting, and for all the greetings that he posted online received from various parishes and individuals. Reading them humbled him, and brought him to tears, with a renewed realization of the great responsibility God has bestowed upon him.
Vladyka Antony concluded his reflective words by asking everyone to pray for him and the Church today and in all the days and years to come.
Archbishop Daniel stepped up to express his own heartfelt greetings, and those of the clergy and faithful of the Church, stating that 35 years ago in the very church they were gazing upon, St. Andrew Memorial Church, Metropolitan Antony received his consecration, being called not only to be a priest, but, a bishop, and an apostle of Christ.
35 years later these same people, who had gathered for the consecration, gather today for the celebration, to once again proclaim “Axios”!
Vladyka Daniel stated that 19 years ago in that same church, he also received the consecration of priesthood through Metropolitan Antony’s hands.
Archbishop Daniel than presented His Eminence with a photo album of Metropolitan Antony’s consecration 35 years ago, giftedby Maureen and Bill Cornman.
As Vladyka Daniel concluded his greeting, the seminarians came up to greet their beloved Metropolitan, gifting him flowers and warm words of respect and honor. Having thanked them for their greeting, Metropolitan Antony gave them some words of advice, that when they get lectured, or advised, it is not to hurt them, but, to make them better and to help them become great priests one day. They are here, at the seminary, not only to study, but to discern if they have a true calling to serve Christ as a priest in His Church. He asked that they pay attention to everything they do, how they do it, what they say, and how they say it. Everything matters.
Having given his blessings to the seminarians, His Eminence was then greeted by the various clergy and faithful who despite the pandemic, social distancing restrictions, and face masks, had decided to make an effort to join the celebration in person.
Having accepted the warm greetings of many, bestowed his blessings upon them all, everyone once again cried out AXIOS! WORTHY! ГІДНИЙ!
May Christ our God shower His Eminence Metropolitan Antony with good health, happiness and many more blessed years serving in His Vineyard!
Eis polla eti Despota!