Over the weekend of November 11-14, 2022 – the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost – Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Genk (Belgium) celebrated the 22nd anniversary of ordination to the Holy Priesthood of Very Rev. Fr. Vitalij Derewianka and his retirement from the formal pastoral responsibilities in the life of the parish community. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel traveled to Belgium to lead the prayerful celebration, honoring the long-term pastor of the parish family.
On Sunday, November 13th, the Archpastoral Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Vladyka Daniel, assisted by the pastor of Holy Archangel Ukrainian Orthodox Church Very Rev. Fr. Vitalij Derewianka; Very Rev. Fr. Mykola Lekhnovsky; Very Reverend Fr. Valentyn Smoktunowych and Rev. Fr. Oleksandr Smoktunowych of Protection of the Birth-Giver of God Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Munich, Germany as well as Rev. Fr. Amdrii Balukh – soon to be appointed pastor of the Ukrainian Orthodox parish community in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Also in attendance at the Liturgy were representatives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hasselt, Belgium and members of the diplomatic community of Ukrainian Embassy to Belgium, represented by Her Excellency Nataliia Anoshyna, Charge d’Affaires of Ukraine, as well as numerous parishioners from of the Ukrainian Orthodox communities from Germany and Great Britain.
At the Small Entrance of the Divine Liturgy, Archbishop Daniel elevated Very Rev. Fr. Vitalij Derewianka to an honorary rank of Protopresbyter in the life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora, thus honoring his life-time contribution and service in the life of the Church and community.
In his homily, Vladyka stated: “…The greatest healing force for those who are spiritually, mentally and emotionally ill is love. The Gospel today makes this very clear. The miracle of the healing of the sick man from Gerasene has always impressed me. Our Lord takes a terribly ill person, hostile, full of hate, fierce, naked, living in a cemetery, suicidal, and heals him so that in the end we find him “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.”
The Savior can do the same today. He can take a bored person and fill that person with enthusiasm if only given the chance. He can take a drifting, purposeless person and fill him with eternal purpose. An unbalanced person and restore that person to stability. If only given the chance.
Our Lord has placed in our hands the healing power of prayer, love, friendship, listening, caring, forgiveness with which to reach out to help restore and heal the suffering Gerasenes today.
Today’s Gospel is telling us that we should go then and be the HEALERS to one another in the name of Jesus Who was and is the Greatest of all Healers…
…One of the greatest causes of mental illness is guilt. But for this we have the greatest cure in the world; the forgiving love of God in Christ. The psychiatrist and the psychologist can uncover the layers of buried guilt that have been tormenting us through the years but only Christ can remove the guilt
We are not made to be self-centered. One of the essential conditions of good mental health is to get out of oneself, to find a challenging vocation, to fall in love (in the real sense of the word), to give oneself to a cause. To lose oneself, as Jesus Christ said, is to find oneself…”
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Vladyka Daniel presented the outgoing pastor of the parish Protopresbyster Vitalij Derewianka with the Medal of Metropolitan John Theodorovich for his contribution to the development and preservation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Belgium.
Receiving an altar cross from the hands of the long-term pastor of the parish, Protopresbyter Vitalij, Archbishop Daniel introduced the congregation to the new pastor of Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Genk, Belgium – Very Rev. Fr. Mykola Lekhnovsky. Presenting the new pastor with a pastoral altar cross, Archbishop Daniel reminded everyone in attendance about the importance of spiritual fatherhood and service in the life of the Church.
The daughter of Protopresbyter Vitalij, Nadia Derewianka addressed everyone in attendance and made a presentation of 50,000 euros to His Eminence Archbishop Daniel for the purposes of Charitable Aid to Ukraine via the ministry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
After the Liturgical celebrations all were invited to a formal reception. Numerous dignitaries expressed their greetings to the parish community; among them were the Mayor of Genk as well as the representatives of the Belgian Royal government, and the representative of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hasselt.
Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox parish community in Genk is a richly diverse parish made up of different cultures and languages; however, the parish takes pride in their Ukrainian language liturgical celebrations and traditions, which are prayerfully preserved by the community and the parish’s choir. Many people were departing from the festivities, stating that Holy Archangel Michael is not only a parish, it is a family.