Second Sunday of Great Fast 2018 Metropolitan Stefan Soroka

The recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida caused much hurt and anguish, and the precious loss of life for seventeen innocent people.  We are gradually coming to learn more about the troubled mind and personality of the shooter.  His unusual and bizarre behaviors, and his anger and bitterness shown to others, were often observed by many far in advance of the tragic event.  This is characteristic of many such persons who choose to hurt others in violent ways.  Such people are often loners, existing on the peripheral of day-to-day life.  Perhaps we may even foster their isolation because of our fears and our lack of understanding of such people.

In the Gospel, we hear of four friends tearing a hole in the roof of a place where Jesus was preaching, so that they could bring their paralyzed friend on a stretcher before Jesus for healing.  Jesus heals the man because of the faith of his friends. One of the most healing forces in the world is another human being who can listen with patience and with love, and who responds with what his faith tells him at that time.  The Church is called to be as society of true friends who care.  The tragedy in Florida awakens us to be more attentive and to take more initiative to reach out to the ‘loners’ amidst us.  May our Great Fast journey assist you and me to engage with others who may be needed to be brought closer to Jesus Christ for healing.  May each of us have the courage to be a true Christian friend, setting aside our own pressing needs and fears as we see and respond to the needs of those we encounter on life’s journey.


FIRST SUNDAY OF THE GREAT FAST 2018 Metropolitan Stefan Soroka

When Philip told Nathanael that they had found “the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth”, Nathanael asks “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46).  Nathanael reveals a common human characteristic, namely a tendency to make quick judgments.  Jesus repeatedly instructed his disciples and the people to whom he preached to “Stop judging that you may not be judged” (Mt 7:1) He would ask why we look at the splinter in another person’s eye and not the wooden beam in our own eye.  Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone!  Quick judgments are often revealed through the occasional use of inappropriate words or swearing.  Jesus told his disciples that “on the day of judgment, people will render an account for every careless word they speak” (Mt 12:36).  We ought to set aside any careless use of words.  Setting aside our tendency to judge others while realizing our own huge imperfections is a necessity before welcoming the Lord into our hearts.


Great Fast 2018 Forgiveness Sunday Metropolitan Stefan Soroka

We celebrate ‘Forgiveness Sunday’ as we prepare to enter the journey of Great Fast beginning on Monday, February 12th.  Our first step in any journey is often the most important.  You and I are called to celebrate forgiveness in our life.  Ask yourself if you covet any anger or malice against anyone in your heart and mind.  Are there some prevailing negative thoughts or feelings which need to be cast aside to free yourself of unneeded baggage for your journey of coming closer to the Lord?  Our best efforts are minimized if we fail to forgive and to seek forgiveness.  Recall Jesus’ own words, “leave your gift at the altar and go first and be reconciled with your brother and then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5:24).  Jesus told the people that “if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions” (Mt 6:14-15).  Today, and always, as you and I enter the holy journey of Great Fast, let us enter with a reconciled heart filled with forgiveness given and forgiveness received!


Ukrainian Bishops in Philadelphia and Stamford, Ct. Make Culinary Wager on the Outcome of Super Bowl LII

Philadelphia, Pa.—Metropolitan Stefan Soroka, Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia and Bishop Paul Chomnycky, OSBM, bishop of Stamford, Ct. are rooting for different teams during the NFL Super Bowl LII on Sunday, February 4, 2018.  This annual sporting event of the year will feature the Philadelphia Eagles, in their first appearance since 2005 and the returning Super Bowl Champion and perennial powerhouse New England Patriots.

To show their confidence in their respective home teams, the bishops have placed a friendly wager on the ultimate outcome of the game.  The beneficiaries will be either the chancery staff in Philadelphia or the chancery staff in Stamford, Ct.

Metropolitan Soroka stated, “If the Eagles do not fly high on Sunday, we will provide a luncheon for the Stamford Chancery staff highlighted with Philadelphia cheesesteaks.  However, I do not suspect I will have to do so.”

While Bishop Paul and his chancery staff are looking forward to the Philly Cheesesteak luncheon, the bishop states, “If the Eagles fly high and the Patriots experience a rare defeat, he will provide the Philadelphia Chancery staff with a luncheon with Boston Cream Pie as the dessert.”

The Philadelphia Cheesesteak and the Boston Cream Pie are local favorites of their respective cities that have become nationally and even internationally known.

The Philly cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century “by combining frizzled beef, onions, and cheese in a small loaf of bread”, according to a 1987 exhibition catalog published by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited with inventing the sandwich by serving chopped steak on an Italian roll in the early 1930s.

According to the owners of the Parker House Hotel in Boston, the Boston cream pie was first created at the hotel by Armenian-French chef M. Sanzian in 1856 and originally called a “Chocolate Cream Pie. While other custard cakes may have existed at this time baking chocolate as a coating was a new process, making it unique and a popular choice on the menu.

The name “Boston Cream Pie” first appeared in the 1872 Methodist Almanac. The Boston cream pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts, declared as such on  December 12,  1996.

While both bishops are rooting for their respective home teams, they see this event as an American tradition that brings the nation together on Super Bowl Sunday.

“It is amazing how on this one Sunday, people throughout the nation, indeed throughout the world, come together to watch a game played by grown men.  Families, neighbors and organizations have parties and socials to enjoy this American classic.  It is a unifying event,”  Archbishop Soroka said.

Bishop Paul commented, “While we all hope for an exciting and competitive football game on Sunday, we also look forward to good sportsmanship and camaraderie among the players and fans both on and off the field.  For a few hours, we are able to forget about the many problems throughout the world.”

Depending on the outcome, in the near future either the Philadelphia Chancery staff will be enjoying Boston Cream Pie or the Stamford Chancery staff will be feasting on Philadelphia Cheesesteaks.




The birth of Christ – the time when the Christian world becomes immersed, as if in a fairy-tale of its childhood: fancy sparkling garlands, glistening Christmas tree ornaments and the comfort of family festivities, with its familiar aroma of Holy Eve supper reminiscent of childhood and the excitement of waiting for gifts as children.  At this time, it even seems to adults that the mystical joy of Christmas, almost here and now, is leading them to the Promised Land of comfort and fulfillment of all dreams.  We would venture to say that Christmas, somehow in a mysterious, incomprehensible way, hands down to us the distant, gentle taste of Heaven.


On a purely human level, Christmas, possibly as no other of our Christian feast days, manifests to us the essence of all our most profound aspirations, that is, to be part of a community, the community of a large family, sitting at the festive table of Our Heavenly Father.


Nevertheless, somehow we forget or we don’t want to possibly remember, that in order to achieve the aim to which our entire inner being aspires, it is necessary we go all the way through.  For we, as human beings, still find ourselves in the valley of tears and as our divine services say, the earthly “life – is but a shadow and a dream”.  To walk along this road, along the road of achieving our destiny – is to follow Jesus Christ.  It means to follow Him Who put aside His glory and entered the darkness of this world, where the human being suffers, removed from the intimacy of God.


Christ could have been born in a royal palace.  He could have become a worldwide ruler who imposes his will on the passive masses of subjects, whom He forcibly pulls, each and every one, into the embrace of the Loving Father.  However, how could God, who is Love, desire compulsory “love”?  Could a Loving Father try to compel his children to love Him by force?


This is the reason why Christ did not choose the path of power.  He chose the path of Love, which is the only one that can overcome evil which reigns in this world.  Love is the one and only thing that can prompt the human heart to respond with love.  He chose the path of accomplishing the will of the Father in order to gather together into one all the scattered children of God (John 11, 52) through Sacrifice.  His mission – redemption of humanity, restoring the relationship of the human person with God, this – the Sacrifice, is a sacrifice from the very beginning to the very end.


The Sacrifice which began at that moment when the Son of God, the Second Person of God, set aside his Glory, Power, Grandeur and lowered Himself, assuming human nature, becoming one of those who suffer in the valley of banishment.  His Sacrifice passed both through the cold cave, which served as a stable for flocks of sheep in the vicinity of Bethlehem – the town of his human ancestor – King David.  It went through the simplest manger, where feed was left for the livestock, through the prickly hay, through the rejection of the neighbors.  It continued through the flight into Egypt and simple years of childhood and youth in the forgotten Galilean town, which, it seems, had a bad reputation among the people.  His Sacrifice undergoes the rejection of those to whom He was sent, who dishonored Him by their ridicule and cruelty all the way to the Cross.  Nonetheless, Christ fulfilled His mission and accomplished the will of the Heavenly Father.


Each one of us is called to walk down His path, to continue His mission.  However, this requires our understanding of the fact that we are members of His Body, that is, the Church.  This demands of us an ever closer union with Him here on earth, a unity with Him in Love, in order to be able to unite ourselves with His Sacrifice, as participants in His mission.


In Christmas, in a mysterious and incomprehensible manner, the beginning of His mission is joined together with our foretaste of Heaven.  The beginning and end unite. Simultaneously, we have a call to come walk with Him on the way, and in doing so, we already have the power to experience in advance the foretaste of the joy of a completed journey.  Thus Christmas is not only the joy of a family celebration, not just the shimmering heavenly lights, but a call directed to each one of us, a call to set out on a journey.


At the time of beginnings of the Chosen People, God said to our Forefather Abraham in Ur of Chaldea: come out of yourself.  And this call is directed to each one of us: come out of yourself.  Come out of your preoccupation with daily monotony; come out of your fears and limitations and come stand before the manger in which the mission of Christ begins.  It is a mission which is not easy, but a necessary prerequisite for reaching the goal of our existence, – to be with God for all eternity.


Christ is Born!

+Stefan Soroka

Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians

Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM

Eparch of Stamford

+Benedict Aleksiychuk (author)

Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+ Bohdan J. Danylo

Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

+John Bura

Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

+Andriy Rabiy

Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

Christmas 2017