Митрополит Антоній Провів Засідання Ради Митрополії
The Members of the UOC of USA Council of the Metropolia settled in, on 1 December, at their computers to attend an end-of-year meeting via ZOOM. His Eminence, Metropolitan Antony, offered an invocation and expressed his heartfelt greetings to the Council Members. He further shared his thoughts not only on the current state of the Church, but also about that of the world. 2020 has proven to be a challenge to every single person on the planet. We are living in unprecedented times, facing trials and expectations that people are struggling with. Not only is humanity in fear of contracting the Covid-19 virus, the repercussions of the pandemic – the isolation, loss of employment and financial stability, and for many, the inability to participate in the Sacraments of the Church are devastating. However, as Christians we must remain strong in our faith, pray, and trust the Lord will guide us through this current storm.
His Eminence referenced today’s Gospel Reading (Luke 14:25-35) which states, “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?” Metropolitan Antony implored all members of the Metropolia to be that “salt”, to make a deep, personal commitment to be true disciples of the Lord. Salt not only adds flavor to food, but preserves it and likewise, the faithful Orthodox Christian must nourish souls and work to preserve the Faith.
As households of parishioners of the UOC of the USA have encountered financial difficulty, so have the parish communities and the Church in general. Metropolitan Antony addressed various COVID-19 regulations of Federal and State governments, by which parish communities of the Church are bound and yet continue to fulfill the mission of the Church through the ministry of local clergy and various parish organizations. The Spiritual Center of the Metropolia of our UOC of USA is also restricted by the local regulations of the State of NJ. The staff of the Consistory continue to fulfill their responsibilities. The Cultural Center has faced stiff restrictions brought upon by the pandemic and has been able to conduct limited outdoor activities under tents, which provides minimal support for Consistory administrative obligations.
His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, gave a report on the St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary, stating that classes are continuing both for the resident students, and online. Some of the previous graduates, who were preparing for ordination are currently in Ukraine, where they traveled early in the year – one to get married – and have not been able to return to the U.S. due to the Covid-19 restrictions and US Consulate closure, along with new US government immigration changes. Vladyka Daniel invited everyone to join the seminarians on December 19th, at 5 PM for “Christmas at the Seminary” which will be broadcast online. Additionally, the seminarians will be producing a new CD with Christmas Carols in time for the holidays.
During the 22 Regular Sobor in November 2019, the decision was made to organize the faithful of our Church into a new body, which will serve to ensure the secure future of our Holy Church. Very Rev. Fr. Andrii Pokotylo and Howard West informed the Council members that the GUARDIANS OF THE METROPOLIA, has been organized to help fundraise for the Church. Plans now complete in preparation for the official announcement and inauguration of the Guardians, which will take place in December.
Before ending the meeting, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony asked that the members of the Council of the Metropolia make an effort to reach out to people. Many individuals are suffering from isolation due to the pandemic. Even young children are being negatively impacted. They and we no longer see smiles on each other’s faces, which are hidden behind masks, don’t feel the comfort of hugs, and do not get to experience first hand the love of our friends in person. Therefore, he asked that we make a concerted effort to make a positive difference to those around us, to ensure they are doing alright, to give them hope, and show them the love of Christ.
Before concluding the meeting with a prayer, Vladyka Daniel stated that while the pandemic is the cause of much stress and chaos, in many instances it has been the fire that has changed coal into diamonds. Throughout the entire summer there were pop-up food pantries at the Consistory, feeding over 150 families a week. Many parishes have followed suit, and held their own food drives, ensuring that people in their local communities do not go hungry due to the added financial stresses brought on by virus. Many people have stepped up and took this challenge as an opportunity to do good in the world, to live out their Christian responsibilities.
Additionally, the daily broadcast of morning prayers at 7 a.m. and evening prayers at 9 p.m. have been a huge blessing to the faithful. People schedule their days around the services, to ensure they can attend. There is no better way to start the day, than with prayer, and no better way to end it, than with prayer to the Lord. While people have always prayed, they no longer pray alone, but pray with others. Seeing their acquaintances and friends join the livestream makes them realize they are not alone, not isolated, not forgotten… for where two or three are gathered in His name, there is Christ.