Pennsylvania South Anthracite Deanery held its 87th Ukrainian Seminary day
On July 25th, the priests and the faithful of the South Anthracite Deanery gathered at St. Nicholas Grove in Primrose, Pa to celebrate the 87th Ukrainian Seminary Day. Starting from the early 1930s, parishes of the deanery, which are the oldest Ukrainian Catholic congregations in the United States of America, observe this day as a special occasion to support Saint Josaphat Seminary in Washington, DC.
From 1985 through 2021, the South Anthracite Deanery has raised over one million dollars. This year, even though the day did not have the usual entertainment including music and dancing as well as the children’s programs, they did have take-out food sales, and the deanery, which comprises 12 parishes, was able to gather over $15,000.
The central event of the Ukrainian Seminary Day was a Divine Liturgy. Metropolitan Borys Gudziak, who was the main celebrant and homilist, was accompanied by the priests from the deanery as well as the priests who recently came from Ukraine to serve in the Archeparchy. A special guest in attendance was the dean of the Theological Department of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Rev Yuriy Shchurko.
“This Gospel reading from Matthew (storm at the Sea of Galilee) is so appropriate for what we are living as the human community, as the Church, as the parishes of our Anthracite deanery. I would like to thank all our priests of the deanery and all of you for keeping the faith and for preparing this day,” said the Metropolitan in his homily.
He focused on the story of the Apostle Peter and trust in God. “Can we trust when there is a pandemic or a storm in our families, when the body is weak and the spirit is exhausted, when there is a danger in the neighborhood, a tumult in society or war, when there is a lack of peace in our heart? Can we trust that the Lord will extend his hand?”
The Archbishop stressed that there is a big difference between us and Peter, and we have an advantage — we know the ending of this storm in the Gospel and story of Jesus. He emphasized, “If we trust in the Lord, we can cross this lake, we can make it through the storm of our lives,”, and called the people listening to extend their hand to others and help them to trust in God.
After the liturgy, there was a take-out food sale of pyrohy, holubtsi, halushki, and pastries prepared by the parishioners of the South Anthracite Deanery.
“This is an important tradition that we wish to continue,” explained Rev Mykola Ivanov, pastor of the parishes in Shamokin and Marion Heights as well as the dean of the South Anthracite Deanery. “Last year due to COVID restrictions, we could not have an open event but to keep the tradition, together with the priests of the deanery, we gathered to celebrate the liturgy which was live-streamed and our faithful could join. They also made their generous donations”.
Rev Mykola stressed the loyalty and consciousness of the Anthracite faithful. “This is a phenomenon of the region. They try to attend the liturgy as often as they can. There are many callings to the priesthood from this region. They are the fourth-fifth generation born in the US but they are proud of their heritage and celebrate their identity,” he shared.
Doreen Kushner, who used to be a teacher, and later a principal of the Ukrainian Catholic school in Shamokin, puts it simply. “We were brought up in the Ukrainian Church and therefore we still go there,” she says. She used to attend the Ukrainian Seminary Day while they were still held in Lakewood Park. She and Rev Mykola noted that the parishes of the region often work together. “Our parishes are small, and we know each other because of the different activities that we do together,” says Doreen.
Adrianne Kurlyak, of the Saint Nicholas Church in Minersville, volunteers for many Church initiatives. “I feel that I have been called to pray for priests and I enjoy doing whatever I can for priests,” she said.
“It is a good day and it gives me hope for the future”, noted Frank Peron who has been attending the Ukrainian Seminary day for 30 times.
History of the day