(UOCOFUSA) His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphaniy, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was formally welcomed by the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA at the Spiritual Center of the Church in South Bound Brook/Somerset, NJ on Monday 21 October, 2019.
Welcoming the Primate of the OCU on the front steps of the historic St. Andrew the-First-Called Apostle Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony called Metropolitan Epiphaniy’s attention to the fact that it the first visit of the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to the sacred temple of Ukrainians in the United States of America, as St. Andrew’s Church is the first monument to the victims of the Artificially Created Genocidal Famine in Ukraine of 1932-1933.
Upon entering the church and blessing the clergy and faithful in attendance, both metropolitans of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (one in Ukraine and one in the United States of America) exchanged statements of spiritual joy for the opportunity that the Lord presented to the world-wide Ukrainian Orthodox community to reestablish Sacred Bond through the Mother Church of Constantinople.
His Eminence Metropolitan Antony made references to countless hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, Canada, Australia, Western Europe and throughout Diaspora who for the past 100 years of their existence in the Western World, offered unceasing prayers of intercession for the spiritual “freedom” of the Orthodox Church – the people of Ukraine. The sacred bond between the Mother Church of Constantinople and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora served its spiritual purpose towards the unification process and canonical and sacred recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Holy and Sacred Patriarchate of Constantinople, and most recently by the Church of Greece and soon by other Autocephalous Orthodox Churches throughout the world. Since the reception of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA into the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1995, one of the primary goals of the hierarchs of the Church was the granting of the Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine. The Church in Diaspora remained as a living torch of presence in the Orthodox world, constantly reminding everyone of the historic right to Autocephaly of the people and the Church of Ukraine.
Responding to the words of welcome of Metropolitan Antony, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphaniy expressed strong sentiments of spiritual joy and for the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians in Diaspora as they now they enjoy the most sacred union through the motherly care of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine thanked both hierarchs of the UOC of the USA for their service in the process of the formal canonical Synodal granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Moreover, Metropolitan Epiphaniy turned his attention to His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, the former Exarch of the Ecumenical Throne to Ukraine, and offered gratitude for the work that was accomplished by Vladyka Daniel, while serving in Ukraine and representing His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Assisted by Archbishop Evstratiy of Chernihiv, Metropolitan Epiphaniy presented the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA with the gifts of commemorative silver coins, honoring the historic events of granting of Tomos of Autocephaly. Moreover, an embroidered icon of the Protection of the Birth-Giver of God was presented to the UOC of the USA, commemorating the decision of the Council of Bishops of the UOC of the USA to place the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the United States of America and Ukraine under the Sacred Protection of the Birth-Giver of God.
Following the visit to St. Andrew Memorial Church, the delegation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was treated to a walking tour of the entire 53 acres of sacred land of the Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
The first stop was made in the crypt of the Holy Resurrection Mausoleum of St. Andrew Memorial church, where the remains of the first spiritual leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church rest – patriarch and metropolitan Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) of blessed memory. In honoring the memory of the spiritual leader of the Church in Diaspora and later in Ukraine, the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine honored the memory and service of countless hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Church in Diaspora and Ukraine who throughout centuries prayed for the day of spiritual ‘freedom” and the sacred ability to pray in the tongue of the Holy Fathers and Mothers of Kyivan Rus-Ukraine.
Archbishop Daniel, assisted by the newly elected Vice-president of the Consistory Very Rev. Fr. Victor Wronskyj and Treasurer of the UOC of the USA – Very Rev. Fr. Stephen Hutnick, led the walking tour of the Metropolia Center of the UOC of the USA, while visiting the memorial grave site of the first hierarch of the UOC of the USA – Archbishop Ioan (Theodorovich); the National Ukrainian-American Veterans Monument, the main Cemetery Cross of St. Andrew’s Cemetery, which is dedicated to the numerous heroes of Ukrainian people, who died for the freedom of the ancestral Ukraine; the Ukrainian Insurgent Army memorial.
Having crossed the historic bridge to the administrative side of the Spiritual Center of the Church, Metropolitan Epiphaniy visited St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary, which this year marks 47th year of academic presence as the theological school of the UOC of the USA. Meeting the full-time students of the Seminary, His Beatitude bestowed his blessing to all students and wished them spiritual and academic excellence.
Ukrainian Cultural Center and Archives section of the building were the next stop for the delegation from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphaniy paid special attention to the main hall of the Cultural center, where the XXII Sobor of the UOC of the USA took place just a day prior to Metropolitan’s visit. While at the Center, Archbishop Daniel called Metropolitan’s attention to the icon of Christ the Savior (made in a mosaic style of iconography, consisting of the photographs of the youth of the Church, which was presented to His Eminence Metropolitan Antony on the 70th anniversary of his birthday). Moreover, the Prime Hierarch of the Church of Ukraine venerated the icon of the Protection of the Birth-Giver of God – the main Sobor icon of the UOC of the USA (beautifully written by iconographer Cheryl Pituch).
Having toured the site of the entire Cultural Center, which is also a home for St. Andrew School of Religion of Ukrainian language (which consists of over 100 students) and of the dance group Barvinok, Metropolitan Epiphaniy formally entered the main administrative building – the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
Touring the administrative offices, Metropolitan Antony presented a tour of the formal portraits of all hiearrchs of the UOC of the USA from the moment of the formal foundation of the Church in 1918. The portraits were painted in Ukraine by Artur Orlenov, an artist whose work Metropolitan Epiphaniy immediately recognized.
Entering the second section of the complex of the Consistory, Metropolitan Epiphaniy visited St. Sophia Seminary Library, which a home for about 60,000 volumes of theological books as well as other literature, covering the history of Ukraine, the United States of America, etc.
The Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine paid special attention to the present exhibit of “Rushnyky” in the location of the temporary exhibit hall of the Ukrainian History and Education Center. Meeting the director of the Center Mrs. Natalia Honcharenko (as well as Dr. Michael Andrec – archivist; Dobrodiyka Oksana Pasakas – collections manger and Yuri Mischenko -curator of the exhibit), Metropolitan Epiphaniy presented the executives of the museum with a personal gift – a traditional “Petrykivka” embroidered towel, which immediately became of a historical value, as it was gifted to the museum by the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The formal visit concluded with an informal reception in the Consistory building of the UOC of the USA in honor of His Beatitude and the delegation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Meeting with the clergy and the faithful of the Church, Metropolitan Epiphaniy answered their questions and presented himself for numerous photos with the individuals in attendance. In conclusion of the visit, a special presentation was made to Archbishop Evstartiy and Dobrodijka Oksana Pasakas – both of whom celebrated their birthday on that day. Traditional MNOHAYA LITA – GOD, GRANT YOU MANY YEARS was chanted.
Having bid farewell to the members of the community in attendance, Metropolitan Epiphaniy bestowed his archpastoral blessing before heading into the formal meeting with the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in order to reflect and to address common pastoral and ecclesiastical projects and endeavors for the Glory of God and His Holy Church.
In the late hours of afternoon on Monday, October 21, 2019 the delegation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphaniy departed the Spiritual Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA for Washington, DC.Hierarchs of the UOC of the USA Welcome Metropolitan Epiphaniy of Kyiv at the Spiritual Center of the Church in South Bound Brook, NJ
Photos by Subdeacon Yaroslav Bilohan
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