Archbishop Daniel Visits Ukrainian Community of Cincinnati, OH, Leads them in Prayer and Participates in the Ukrainian Festival
Archbishop Daniel Visits Ukrainian Community of Cincinnati, OH, Leads them in Prayer and Participates in the Ukrainian Festival

Архиєпископ Даниїл відвідав українську громаду Синсинеті, Огайо, та молитовно взяв участь в Українському фестивалі

While most of us cannot travel to Ukraine in this present time (due to the ongoing military aggression of Russia against the peaceful nation of Ukraine) in order to experience the rich religious and cultural traditions of Ukrainian people, the Cincinnati, OH Ukrainian-Americans brought the celebration of Ukrainian spirit and culture to the local community.

Archbishop Daniel, accompanied by the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary subdeacon Maksym Zhuravchyk and subdeacon Andrii Akulenko, arrived the city of Cincinnati, located on the Ohio river, in order to lead the Ukrainian Orthodox community in prayer, as they work tirelessly to prepare for a festival, proceeds from which are set to equip one of Kherson's hospitals with basic diagnostic tools. 

The Kherson region used to be a flourishing center in southern Ukraine. During the Russian invasion it was robbed and ravaged by Russian military. After its liberation by Ukrainian forces in November 2022, it became evident that a majority of valuable equipment was either destroyed or stolen from many hospitals. Efforts by the Ukrainian government and volunteer forces to restore the region faced a major hurdle after the entire area flooded as a result of the destruction of the Kakhovka Power Plant by its occupiers on June 6, 2023. This act of terrorism left the region without vital infrastructure and medical equipment. Kherson is still is one of the most shelled cities of Ukraine and is in dire need of basic medical life support.

Early in the morning of Saturday, August 5, 2023, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel personally led the celebration of the Eucharistic Divine liturgy, thus enabling volunteers, workers and parishioners of the local Ukrainian Orthodox mission to pray for the success of their efforts and the peace and stability of Ukraine.

In the middle of the temple space of the local Fleming United Church of Christ, where the Ukrainian community temporarily prayed and used the surrounding space for activities, the icon of the Mother of God of Pochaiv was placed, thus celebrating a memory of the deliverance of the Dormition Lavra Monastery from a Turkish siege on July 20-23, 1675.

Vladyka Daniel brought the icon for veneration of the local community from the Three Holy Hierarchs Seminary chapel in the Metropolia Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in South Bound Brook, NJ. In his remarks, the archbishop related the miraculous narrative of deliverance of the monastics and people from the foreign siege and invasion by the enemy.

“During the war with the Turks in the summer of 1675, Tartar regiments invaded Pochaiv, surrounding the monastery on three sides. The weak monastery walls and its stone buildings did not offer much defense against a siege. Abbot Joseph (Dobromirsky) urged the monks and laypeople to pray to their heavenly intercessors: the Most Holy Theotokos and St. Job of Pochaiv.

The monks and the laypeople prayed fervently, prostrating themselves before the wonderworking icon of the Mother of God and the reliquary with the relics of St. Job. At sunrise on the morning of July 23, as the Tatars were planning an assault on the monastery, the abbot ordered that an Akathist to the Theotokos be sung. At the opening words, "O Queen of the Heavenly Hosts," the Most Holy Theotokos suddenly appeared over the church, in "an unfurled gleaming-white omophorion," with angels holding unsheathed swords. St. Job stood beside the Mother of God, bowing to Her and beseeching Her to defend the monastery.

Becoming terrified at the sight of the holy army, the Tatars shot arrows at the Most Holy Theotokos and St. Job. However, the arrows fell backwards and wounded those who shot them. In panic and without looking, the enemy trampled upon and killed each other. The defenders of the monastery pursued them and took many prisoners. Afterwards, some of the prisoners accepted Christianity and remained at the monastery.”

Vladyka Daniel offered intercessory prayers in front of the icon for the nation of Ukraine, as people in present time relieve the horrific moments of war and destruction perpetrated by the invaders.

Moreover, another sacred icon was offered for veneration. Sunday, August 6, 2023 is a day of prayerful commemoration of the Holy Martyr Christina of Tyre (300), who was recently selected by the youth of the UOC of the USA as one of the patron saints of the young generation of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in the United States of America.

Once again, Archbishop Daniel offered a short reflection on the life of the saint, stating: “The Martyr Christina lived during the Third Century. She was born into a rich family, and her father was governor of Tyre. By the age of 11 she was very beautiful, and many wanted to marry her. Christina's father, however, envisioned that his daughter should become a pagan priestess. To this end he placed her in a special dwelling where he had set up many gold and silver idols, and he commanded his daughter to burn incense before them. 

In her solitude, Christina began to wonder who had created the beautiful world. From her room she was delighted by the stars of the heavens and constantly thought about the Creator of all the world. She was convinced, that the voiceless and lifeless idols in her room could not create anything, since they themselves were created by human hands. She began to pray to the One God, hoping that he would reveal himself to her. Her soul blazed with love for the Unknown God, and she intensified her prayer all the more, and combined it with fasting.

Christina was visited by an angel, who instructed her in the true faith in Christ, the Savior of the world. The angel called her a bride of Christ and told her about her future suffering. St. Christina smashed all the idols standing in her room and threw them out the window. Christina's father, came to visit her, and he asked where all the idols had disappeared. Her father was displeased, and put her in prison with orders to torture St. Christina until she renounced her faith in Christ. 

An angel of God appeared each night, healing her wounds and strengthening her with food. Her father, seeing her unharmed, gave orders to drown her in the sea. An angel sustained her while the stone sank down, and Christina miraculously came out of the water and reappeared before her father. In terror, the torturer thought this to be sorcery and he decided to execute her in the morning. He summoned St. Christina and tried to persuade her to renounce Christ, but seeing her unyielding firmness, he subjected her to cruel tortures. St. Christina was in prison for a long time and a lot of people came to visit her. She converted close to 300 people while she while there.

A new governor arrived and resumed her torture. After various torments, he gave orders to throw her into a red-hot furnace and lock her in it. After five days they opened the furnace and found the martyr alive and unharmed. Seeing this miracle take place, many believed in Christ the Savior, and the torturers executed St Christina with a sword.

Numerous faithful approached the chalice and received the Holy Eucharist, thus partaking in the Divine Banquet of Christ the Savior.

The day continued with a joyful celebration of Ukrainian heritage. During the formal opening of the festival, Serhiy Kharchyk - the chairperson of the event stated: “The moment we've all been eagerly waiting for has finally come! The Ukrainian community of Cincinnati excited to welcome each and every one of you to our annual festival!

Prepare to be enchanted by a spectacular display of love and dedication as our countless volunteers have poured their hearts into meticulously preparing a feast that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more. From savory delights to mouthwatering treats, our food embodies the very essence of Ukrainian culinary artistry.

But this festival is not just about the food; it's a gateway to a vibrant world of Ukrainian culture that will captivate your senses. Immerse yourself in a whirlwind of colors, sounds, and traditions that have been lovingly preserved and nurtured through generations. Let the beats of traditional music and the grace of folk dances transport you to a realm of joy and celebration.

Today is more than just a gathering; it's a powerful statement of resilience and unity. We are fiercely protecting our precious heritage from the relentless storm of an unjust war waged against Ukraine. Our culture stands strong with its own unique traditions, foods, language, and unmistakable identity.

None of this would be possible without your unwavering support! As we unite in celebration, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to each one of you for standing with us, embracing our culture, and becoming a part of our extended family.

So, let's paint the day with vibrancy, joy, and camaraderie. Come one, come all, and let the Ukrainian spirit infuse your soul. Get ready for an unforgettable experience that will leave you inspired and enriched!”

Vladyka Daniel formally opened the festival with a prayer for Ukraine, especially for the children of Ukrainian nation, who have been injured, killed or forcefully removed by the perpetrators of peace.

Participants had many diverse activities to choose from. Whether enjoying live Ukrainian music and dancing, shopping at the cultural stands, taking the kids on rides and carnival games, guided tours of the Church itself, or just relaxing while feasting on Ukrainian varynyky, pampushky and meat grilled meats, or home-made pastries or other desserts, a good time was had by all, yet constantly reminded by the reality of the war in Ukraine. 

Volunteer parishioners of the local community worked weeks in advance to collect donations, organize food preparations, and countless individuals worked the kitchen, food stands, ticket booths, and security to ensure all went smoothly. Credit goes to all the volunteers who pulled together to raise money for their cause, while creating a memorable event for the entire community.

Archbishop Daniel Visits Ukrainian Community of Cincinnati, OH, Leads them in Prayer and Participates in the Ukrainian Festival

Photos by Subdeacon Maksym Zhuravchyk

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Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
P.O. Box 495
South Bound Brook, NJ 08880

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Metropolia Center
135 Davidson Avenue
Somerset, NJ 08873