With the chiming of bells and chanting of the Nativity Carols, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel entered through the doors of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH for the celebration of the Glorious Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on January 6-8, 2023 (according to Julian Calendar).
Throughout all three days of His Eminence’s visit, the cathedral parish temple was prayerfully overwhelmed by the presence of the faithful of the Church who joined their spiritual father and hierarch for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ. Assisting the Archbishop Daniel at the altar were Protopresbyter John Nakonachny, Very Rev. Fr. Michael Hontaruk and Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay – clergy of the congregation, as well as Subdeacon Maksym Zhuravchyk of the Three Holy Hierarchs Chapel of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary of the UOC of the USA, and Cathedral’s altar servers.
In his homily, Vladyka Daniel exhorted the faithful to follow in the path of Christ and said that, "Things like Christmas trees, stars, carols give us happiness superficially, but we must celebrate Christmas meaningfully and feel it within us by following the teachings of Jesus Christ. Give space in your hearts, open the doors of your houses for others.” He added, “Remember - our Savior Jesus Christ gave us the message of love, brotherhood and peace. We must live together as God's children. Christ died for us, which indicates how much he loves us, and so we must love each other. We must make real Christ's message in our daily life, live like Him, follow Him and abolish any sense of social/moral/political discrimination between the children of God. We must treat everyone equally…”
He further said that "in this modern world we forget our duties, we do not get time to pray, we do not know who is our next-door neighbor… We go to the church and go back home and sit inside our houses without helping the needy…”
While concluding the archbishop said, “Christmas is a time to spread joy, peace and harmony but how much joy we are spreading around us has to be introspected. Do not harden your heart, be more human and help the poor and the needy and celebrate a true Christmas”. The hierarch also wished everyone a very happy and peaceful new year.
The parish family convened in the Grand Hall before the Great Compline service on January 6, Christmas Eve. There, Archbishop Daniel, the clergy, and faithful gathered for the Holy Supper, the Svyata Vecherya, sponsored by the St. Vladimir Senior UOL chapter and prepared by a team of dedicated parishioners led by Tamara Host.
On the Day of the Nativity of Christ, we know that this Divine Liturgy was watched by faithful on the live-stream on Facebook. Everyone commented on how beautiful the Liturgy was and that they were moved to tears, especially when they heard the magnificent singing of our combined Ukrainian and English choirs, directed by Markian Komichak. Hundreds of faithful filled our Cathedral pews at the Christmas Liturgy. Holy Communion was distributed by the clergy using three chalices. We are very glad and thankful to God for the opportunity to allow people all over the world to pray to the Newborn King, our Lord Jesus Christ, together with His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, with clergy, and the faithful at Saint Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral.
Once the liturgical celebration concluded, the children of St. Vladimir Cathedral greeted the parish through the recitation of joyful and reflective Christmas greetings, and the faithful in attendance joined them in prayerfully singing carols in the Ukrainian and English languages. Following the short program, Archbishop Daniel, assisted by Fr. John Nakonachny and Fr. Michael Hontaruk, anointed the faithful and offered them prayerful greetings.
The early hours of Christmas afternoon arrived, yet the faithful gathered at the parish hall of St. Vladimir Cathedral to proclaim the great feast of the Nativity to the world, sharing with each other the traditions of caroling and a festive luncheon prepared by the St. Olga Sisterhood led by Iryna Dudyak, who presented Vladyka Daniel with a check in the amount of $4,000 for the needs of Ukrainian Wounded Soldiers.
It was truly a treat to listen to the ETERNAL Nativity carols, performed by the quartet of Ukrainian Bandurists, students of the parochial Bandura school. Dr. Natalia Mahlay joyfully introduced the bandura players and shared with everyone in attendance a brief narrative about the tradition and importance of Ukrainian Sacred Christmas music. Once she concluded, the joyful and loud “CHRIST IS BORN!” was proclaimed by the carolers of Ukrainian Cleveland Maidan organization, who recreated an ancient and traditional Christmas play - VERTEP - thus proclaiming the joy of Nativity and calling upon everyone to continue their efforts in helping the ancestral homeland Ukraine. Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay, speaking on behalf of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Society of the UOC of the USA, presented the carolers with a financial donation for the purpose of providing medical and logistical assistance to the people of Ukraine.
The members of the Junior UOL Chapter (Mykola Logvynyuk - president and Sophia Zhuchyk - treasurer) presented His Eminence Archbishop Daniel with a check in the amount of $2,000 for the needs of Ukrainian Relief Efforts of the UOC of the USA.
May this Nativity Season be a time of love and grace provided by our Lord in our life. We must carry the wonder of the Nativity in our hearts every day, so we can use its miracle as a catalyst of change in our life. May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who came to this world to save us, bless all of us.