Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate Held their 67th Pilgrimage to Sloatsburg
On August 14-15, Sisters held the 67th Assumption Pilgrimage in Sloatsburg, NY. The theme of this year was “Mary, Mother of the Savior, and Joseph, the Righteous Betrothed, sustain us in God’s Providence.” The solemn Liturgy was presided by Archbishop Borys Gudziak, Metropolitan of Philadelphia, Bishop Pavlo Chomnytsky, Eparch of Stamford, and Bishop Bohdan Danylo, Eparch of Parma, and the priests of the Metropolia were concelebrating. Many believers have traditionally gathered for the pilgrimage.
In his sermon, Bishop Borys emphasized the core of the Feast of the Assumption. “The meaning of the holiday is extremely deep. The Mother of Jesus Christ, who accepted God’s will and was born without the original sin, died in her body and fell asleep. The two words “Dormition” and “Assumption”, which are used in Eastern and Western ecclesial traditions, complement each other. The Mother of God in her human body really died, but she died in joy and peace, falling asleep.”
He focused on the topic of death, which is often perceived as a taboo in the modern world. “Today we live in a world that stops believing in eternity and does not know how to cope with death. If we really believe in eternity, then death will not scare us. We are called not to be afraid of death, because Christ entered our human death and crushed its power.”
Metropolitan Gudziak noted that in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church the Feast of the Assumption is highly celebrated. There are many churches and cathedrals named after the Assumption of the Mother of God, and most of the pilgrimages take place on this feast day.
“We must all leave this feast fearless. It is a celebration of our eternity, to which the Mother of God leads us. She leads us to the Father’s house, where there are many rooms and a high ceiling, “said Bishop Borys. The Metropolitan gave the pilgrims a small task: to tell others about the deep meaning of the feast.
This year’s pilgrimage to Sloatsburg was a special occasion to congratulate Bishop Emeritus Basil Losten, who celebrates the 50th anniversary of his episcopal ministry. “Not every priest is fortunate to live to the 50th anniversary of his priesthood, let alone a Bishop. This is an extremely rare event and a great blessing for the entire Church, “said Bishop Pavlo Chomnytsky in his greeting.
Metropolitan Borys Gudziak mentioned some of Bishop Losten’s achievements. “In Philadelphia, Bishop Basil built a home for the elderly, which is now a sign of our service to the overall community as many non-Ukrainians live there. Also thanks to his efforts mosaics of Saints Volodymyr and Olha were installed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. ”
During the pilgrimage, the highest award of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church – the Order of Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky – was conferred to the former head of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson. This was done on behalf of the head of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk and members of the Synod of Bishops.
The Feast of the Assumption of the Mother of God is a special day for Sisters Servants globally, because on August 27, 1892, the solemn dedication of the first convent in the village of Zhuzhel (Ukraine) occurred and the first six candidates were accepted to the congregation. “We are celebrating 129 years of sacrificial service to God, to His Church, and to His people,” said Sister Eliana Ilnytska, the newly-elected Provincial Superior of Sister Servants in the United States. She recalled last year’s pilgrimage, which was held online. “Today we are very happy and grateful to see you here. We have returned to this holy mountain, and I invite everyone to thank God for the gift of our lives and the health of our families. ”
Bishop Pavlo Chomnytsky, Eparch of Stamford, in turn thanked the Sisters for their courage of opening the doors of their convent to the pilgrims.