Chicago Bishop Announcement
The hierarchy, clergy, religious and faithful of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in USA joyfully rejoice with the good news of the Holy Father Pope Francis’ appointment of the Most Reverend Venedykt (Valery) Aleksiychuk, M.S.U., as the Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saint Nicholas in Chicago. Bishop Aleksiychuk has up until now served as Auxiliary Bishop of Lviv, Ukraine. He will be the 5th Bishop of St. Nicholas Eparchy, succeeding the Most Rev. Richard Seminack, an American born bishop who served the St. Nicholas Eparchy for 13 years until his death on August 16th, 2016 from illness. The St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy includes most of central and western USA, including Hawaii and Alaska.
Most Rev. Venedykt Aleksiychuk, M.S.U., was born in Ukraine on January 16th, 1968 and is a Ukrainian Studite monk. He was ordained a priest in Lviv, Ukraine twenty-five years ago and as a Bishop on September 5th, 2010. Bishop Venedykt Aleksiychuk will be installed as the Bishop of St. Nicholas Eparchy in the coming months. Let us offer prayers of thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessing of a new chief shepherd for the St. Nicholas Eparchy. Let us offer prayers for Bishop Venedykt as he joyfully undertakes this new journey, under the protection and guidance of the Mother of God.
+ Most Reverend Stefan Soroka
Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians
Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States
April 20, 2017
Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka was the Main Celebrant at the Hierarchical Paschal Divine Liturgy at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia, PA on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017. Concelebrants included Deacon Michael Waak, Fr. Roman Sverdan and Fr. Roman Pitula. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! (Photo: Teresa Siwak, The Way)
Deafness and blindness are great personal tragedies, but deafness and blindness of the soul is more tragic. On Palm Sunday, Jerusalem was blind and deaf. Its people did not recognize the true mission of Jesus. Many in the crowds wanted a revolutionary and conqueror who would fulfill their expectations and help them realize their nationalistic hopes. Their souls were unmoved. In a few days, the crowds of people will change its heart and will call out for the crucifixion of Jesus. The disciples will flee and hide. Peter will deny Jesus three times. Imagine the loneliness felt by Jesus.Continue reading
Our Great Fast Meditations have meditated on the sinfulness of living with feelings of entitlement. Today’s Gospel tells of how two apostles who blatantly asked Jesus to sit on either side of him when he comes into his glory. It brought out feelings of animosity among the other ten apostles. Is this not true of life – our life, when we strive for being regarded as in some way superior and thereby more entitled to life’s privileges than others? It occurs among all of us, between people of all ages, ethnic groups and races, people with different levels of education, amidst hierarchy, clergy, faithful, and so on. It causes dissension, envy and brutality amidst us. Jesus was calling his apostles to a change of mind, to live with a new vision. It was not easy for them to understand that greatness meant becoming a servant of others. Like the apostles, we are slow to grasp Jesus’ vision of joy and peace, slow to accept the truth that sets us free. Can we grasp the hand of Jesus Christ with His promise that we will not walk in darkness if we follow Him? Jesus taught that “whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all” (Mk 10:45). Our Holy Father recently reminded us not to be hypocritical in the celebration of our faith. As we make plans for Easter celebrations, plan to make the entire journey with Jesus Christ, by participating in the Vespers and Exposition of the Holy Shroud on Good Friday and entering through His sacrifice into the celebration of Pascha, the glorious Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I urge you not to be hypocritical with God by choosing to enjoy the blessing of Easter foods and participating in Easter Sunday services without having entered through the door of Christ’s passion and death on the cross.
The Gospel tells us of a time when Jesus returns from the mountain top to find his apostles baffled, helpless, and ineffective. The apostles had fallen into despair and could not help the father with his ill son. Jesus later explains to them that this kind of cure demanded prayer. The apostles had been equipped with power, but needed prayer to maintain it. Great Fast awakes us to rekindle our relationship with God through more fervent and steadfast prayer.
Do we take our relationship with the Lord for granted, seeking Him when we are challenged or hurting, and presuming His presence in times of stability and joy? Do we harbor doubts as to the power of the Lord’s help? When coming face to face with Jesus, the father of the ill boy exclaimed, “I do believe! Help my lack of trust!” (Mk 9:24). To approach anything in the spirit of hopelessness is to make it hopeless. To approach anything in the spirit of faith is to make it a possibility. Participating within a community of faith which is vibrant in its prayer life is the surest way to ensure living in the spirit of hope. Your parish offers the gift of growing and sharing in prayer life. We come to realize the need for one another in our journey of faith. We come to realize the power of Christ’s presence and His healing when journeying with others in shared prayer. Rekindle your relationship of prayer with Christ together with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ within your parish this Great Fast!
The mid-point of our Great Fast journey calls us to venerate the Holy Cross in a special way as it lays adorned on the tetrapod or small altar in our Churches. We bow and kiss the cross with deep reverence. It is a profound act of humility. Meditating on the significance of the cross, the instrument of Christ’s death and resurrection, confronts any feelings of superiority or attitudes of entitlement. Jesus Christ’s supreme gift, freely given, offers freedom from the bondage of sin. We hear the striking words of Jesus, “Whoever wishes to follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt: 16:24).
We are continually refreshed with this challenge to deny our own preferences in favor of that which is pleasing to God and to God’s creation. When you and I bless ourselves with the sign of the cross, we affirm our faith in the deepest mysteries of our faith, namely the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the saving work of Christ on the cross. Blessing ourselves with the sign of the cross is a very intimate affirmation of our faith. Tradition says that when we Eastern Catholics touch the right shoulder first, we are reminded of the two thieves who were crucified alongside Jesus. The thief on the right was the “good thief” who professed faith in Christ and whom Christ promised “This day you will be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:43). Next time you cross yourself, ensure that it reflects your profound humility before God, and your expectant faith in your salvation in Jesus Christ. St. John of Damascus teaches: “For wherever the sign shall be there also be He”.
The Great Fast is a gift to you and to me, offering us an opportunity to examine the way we follow Jesus Christ in our day-to-day life. A meaningful journey through Lent ought to unsettle our comfort zones. One of these comfort zones might be an attitude which can overtake us all, that of living in a manner which reflects an attitude of entitlement. Recall how Jesus was tempted three times by the devil. In the first temptation, Jesus was asked to turn the stones into loaves of bread. Jesus replied, “Man does not live by bread alone”. In the second temptation, Jesus was asked to worship the devil. Jesus answered, “You must worship the Lord your God, and serve Him alone”. In the third temptation, Jesus was told to throw himself off the top of the synagogue so that God would send his angels to save him. Jesus answered, “You must not put the Lord your God to the test”.
Three times Jesus was tempted to make himself equal to God. Three times he rejected the temptation and chose God’s way of doing things, God’s will for him. And what about us? When we choose to live as if more is better, and that luxuries are really necessities, which are we choosing, God or ourselves? We can also believe that with power and resources, we can accomplish much more. Who are we choosing, God or ourselves, when we get what we want in less than desirable ways as long as we have a good purpose in the getting? Do we count on our prayers to God to make everything right after having ourselves contributed to the development of difficult situations, perhaps by choosing to ignore our own or others’ needs? Let’s remember Jesus’ answer, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test”.
Great Fast is a gift to continually ask ourselves, “God or ourselves?”