Go tell His disciples:  Christ is risen!

“In the depth of the morning, the myrrh-bearing women came to the tomb of the Life-giver and saw an angel sitting upon the rock; he addressed them with these words: Why do you seek among the dead the One Who is alive?  Why do you bewail the Incorruptible as though He was suffering corruption.  Go tell His disciples:  Christ is risen!  (from the Resurrection Matins)

Since Our Lord died on a Friday and the Sabbath was quickly approaching, Joseph from Arimathea, a distinguished member of the Sanhedrin (Council of the Jewish Temple) boldly requested an audience with Pilate to obtain the release of the body of Jesus for proper burial.  Joseph of Arimathea was a pious man who had looked forward to the resurrection of the body and also to the reign (Kingdom) of God.

Having determined that Jesus was already dead, Pilate released the body of Jesus to Joseph.  Joseph took down the body of Jesus from the Cross and wrapped Him in a newly-bought linen shroud and laid Him in a tomb that the noble Joseph himself had provided.  Since there was no time for the customary anointing of the deceased (according to Jewish burial customs), Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, observed where Jesus was laid in the tomb.

The very first opportunity after the sabbath was over, early Sunday morning at daybreak, the myrrh-bearing women, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, bought perfumed oils to anoint the buried Jesus.  Myrrh was the ointment with which the women sought to anoint our Lord.  Approaching the tomb where our Lord was laid, they wondered who would roll away the rock over the entrance to the tomb.  Much to their surprise, they found the rock already rolled back. They found a young man dressed in a white robe sitting near the entrance.  The women were thoroughly frightened.  The young man dressed in white reassured the women not to be frightened, saying: “He (the Lord Jesus) is not here (at the tomb).  He is Risen!”  Instead of going to Peter and the other disciples as the young man requested, the women left the tomb with fear and trembling and said nothing to anyone.

It would be with the descent of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) that the disciples of the Lord would overcome their fear and go forth boldly preaching the Good News of Salvation to all the nations.  The Apostles with the strength of the grace of the Holy Spirit would visit the many peoples of the world and make them disciples of the Risen Lord, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  May all of us, baptized Christians profess our belief in the Risen Lord with joy, boldness and fervor!

Father George Worschak




The myrrh-bearing women: gratitude and loyalty

Success – this is one of the pillars of our age. You need to be successful, otherwise, you would be a burden. Countless coaching courses try to help people get on the path of success and to rid themselves of the “loser mentality”. Losers are loners because nobody wants to be seen or associated with a loser. At the same time, everyone wants to be as close as possible to a winner, hoping to get a piece of that success.

Three women in an early morning hour sneak up to the tomb of a loser. First, this man was on the highway of success: praised by the crowds, feared by religious leaders and politicians. He was supposed to be the new king who would set his people free from oppression and injustice. Thousands have set in him great hopes and expectations.  But it appears that he didn’t have a winner mentality. He could not keep the crowds. Even more, he was betrayed and left alone by almost all of his disciples. He lost everything in just five days – what a loser!

Strangely, those three women wanted to visit his grave. He has lost and there was no future for him and his teaching. Why even bother? But there was something stronger than fear of being associated with the lost cause. They were grateful and loyal because that teacher from a small town called Nazareth changed their lives. It does not matter that He has lost, because they have already won. The light of God’s faithfulness, forgiveness, and mercy has set them free. They were redeemed – only that counts. Even though those women were sad, they were no longer afraid–unlike those other disciples of Jesus of Nazareth.

Gratitude and loyalty – these words are infrequently used in modern times. Grateful and loyal people are not rushing and running after experiences of being successful. They are looking for the others who are lost, wounded, forgotten.  At the same time, those people are witnessing the greatest miracles in this world and have a foretaste of the world to come.

Three grateful and loyal myrrh-bearing women are the first witnesses of Resurrection. Their faithfulness to the Lord leads them to the greatest experience a human being could attain – the experience of love and redemption.

Fr Ihor Kolisnyk, CSsR




St Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in McAdoo holds charitable events for the community

St Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church continues its engagement in charity. Last month there were 2 events: the first was aimed at supporting the homeless and the needy, and the second was participating in a citywide fundraising campaign for cancer research.

During the first action during the day, parishioners prepared and distributed soup to those in need. St Mary’s offered a Soup Bank, soup giveaway (outdoor distribution to remain sensitive to Covid concerns). The event was promoted on social media, and in posters set at Post Office, laundromat, and other local bulletin boards.  Parish volunteers who organized the distribution included Julie Merenda, Romayne Postupack, Jim Dougherty, and Father George Worschak.  Homemade soups were prepared by several other parishioners.  Many dozens of soup pints were distributed to those who needed them. The church received some notes of thanks and positive comments on Facebook for the effort.  Earlier in the winter, the Parish collected non-perishable grocery items for donation to shelters and food pantries, as well as to parishioners in need. “This creative thinking helps a community stay together», noted Joe Krushinsky.

The purpose of the second action was to raise funds for cancer research. The members of St Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church of McAdoo, with Romayne Joseph of Nesquehoning, who already puts in many hours preparing ethnic foods to benefit her Parish, had a potato pancake sale outside of the Lansford office on W. Ridge Street. In a critical year for the American Cancer Society, many of its fundraising events were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

So, this action was a great help and expression of goodwill at this difficult time. «We got a big assist today from people from St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic in McAdoo. They have their own fundraising picnic in August, and an amazing menu», said Lisa Hoey of the American Cancer Society staff.  Potato pancakes were bought for $1 each. Many hungry supporters crowded the Lansford sidewalks. Bob Ritsick, a volunteer from St. Mary’s, and Joe Krushinsky were frying potato pancakes all day. The final tally for the day was right around $1,300.

https://www.city-journal.org/vital-economic-and-civic-role-of-churches-mcadoo-pennsylvania




Ukrainian Edition of Metropolitan Constantine Bohachevsky Book Published

The Ukrainian Catholic University recently released a Ukrainian translation of Ukrainian Bishop, American Church by historian Marta Bohachevsky-Chomiak. The book was first published by the Catholic University of America Press in 2018. The Ukrainian edition, Community – Bishop – Church: Constantine Bohachevsky and the Formation of the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolia in the United States, was produced with the support of Dr. Marta Pelenska from Philadelphia and the research team of the Institute of Church History (UCU).

Marta Bohachevska-Chomiak’s book is dedicated to Constantine Bohachevsky (1884-1961), second bishop and first metropolitan of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the United States. Under his leadership the see was transformed from a temporary exarchate to a full-fledged and permanent ecclesial structure. The author based her research on the materials of the Ukrainian, Polish, U.S., and Vatican archives and analyzed the activities of Metropolitan Bohachevsky within the broader social and cultural context of the first half of the twentieth century.

Professor Bohachevska describes her mission as writing more than a biography, she also intends to show how the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the United States survived and developed.

In the forward to the Ukrainian edition she writes, “I offer this book about the life of Ukrainian emigrants, which is different from life in the ‘old country,’ to the Ukrainian reader out of gratitude for all the opportunities to learn and study modern Ukraine, which its inhabitants gave me. I hope that this book will encourage us all to continue to learn and grow in knowledge and wisdom.”




History of the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great. Jesus, Lover of Humanity Province

The Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great began with one extraordinary family living in the Eastern Roman Empire during the 4th century. Basil the Elder and his wife Emmelia hailed from Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and had nine children. Macrina was first, followed by Basil. The others included Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebaste, Naucratius, as well as four sisters. Gregory of Nazianzus was a schoolmate of Basil and became a close friend. This remarkable family helped form the Christian faith as we know it, especially regarding monasticism and our understanding of the Holy Trinity.

Asia Minor was a hotbed of activity for the early Church and produced many saints, including the Sisters’ founders Macrina and Basil. They were born during a pivotal stretch of history between the legalization of Christianity and its promulgation as the imperial religion. Their father, Basil the Elder, was a teacher of rhetoric who died when his two oldest children were still teenagers. Afterwards, Macrina worked alongside Emmelia at home while Basil went abroad to continue his education. Basil returned about a decade later, by then well known for his rhetorical brilliance.

Two extremely important events took place shortly thereafter. First, Macrina confronted Basil, who “had become excessively exalted by the idea of his own gift of oratory,” according to their brother Gregory of Nyssa. She humbled Basil so effectively that she changed the course of his life. Second, Macrina convinced Emmelia to make the household into a monastery. This entailed far more than physical changes: the female slaves and servants would now be their equals. It is difficult to overstate how radical this was for the time. Other women eventually joined them, and the monastic community flourished. Meanwhile, headed in a new direction thanks to his older sister, Basil engaged in a life of asceticism and would later be consecrated bishop of Caesarea.

Basil and his best friend, Gregory of Nazianzus, are Doctors of the Church–a title conferred to just thirty-six of the thousands of canonized saints. Basil received this distinction for his writings and tireless efforts against heresy. He composed theological and apologetic works as well as monastic rules. Basil’s rules along with the monastic community Macrina founded at their family home influenced monasticism all over Christendom. Basilian monasteries proliferated throughout the Byzantine East for more than a thousand years, a process roughly paralleled by the Benedictine movements in the Latin West. Moreover, Benedict of Nursia himself underscores Basil’s importance in his own rule.

So where does Ukraine enter the story? Long before it was a modern nation, the land now occupied by Ukraine was part of a medieval kingdom known as Kyivan Rus’. King Volodymyr the Great, sovereign of Kyivan Rus’, introduced Christianity to his people in 988, and countless Basilian monasteries were founded there in subsequent centuries. Thus, Basilian monastics–both women and men–have lived in Ukraine for a very long time.

Two remote historical events factor into why the Sisters of St. Basil came from Ukraine to the United States. In 1054, the bishops of Rome and Constantinople broke communion for largely political reasons. This tragic event is known as the Great Schism. Thereafter, Christians in the Byzantine East were known as Orthodox while those in the Latin West were Catholic. Kyivan Rus’ was located in the former part of Christendom, so it became Orthodox by default.

The situation remained unchanged for more than five hundred years until a group of bishops worked to re- enter communion with the bishop of Rome (the Pope). They succeeded in 1596 with the Union of Brest which brought many in Western Ukraine back into communion with Rome while still preserving their Eastern Christian identity. This explains why the Sisters of St. Basil are Catholic yet not Roman Catholic: their ecclesial heritage is Byzantine rather than Roman. Consequently, the Sisters’ liturgical tradition derives from Constantinople, their devotional images are strictly iconic (i.e., no baroque paintings or statues for that matter), and their eparchial (diocesan) priests may be either celibate or married.

The Union of Brest affected mostly Western Ukraine, especially Halychyna and the Carpathians. Ukrainians who arrived in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries were primarily from these Catholic regions. They gathered first in rural areas such as the coal mining towns of Pennsylvania and later in industrial centers including Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago. During the 1900s their population grew large enough that the first Eastern Catholic bishop of the United States, Soter Ortynsky, petitioned the Sisters of St. Basil in Yavoriv, Ukraine to send members of their Order to care for the immigrants’ children and orphans.

In 1911 four Sisters of St. Basil arrived and set up a monastery in Philadelphia, right near the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral. This was the founding of the Jesus, Lover of Humanity Province. The Sisters very quickly began teaching children and orphans. They helped raise the latter both in Philadelphia as well as Chesapeake City, MD as Bishop Ortynsky purchased land there shortly before his death in 1916. Then in the late 1920s, the Sisters acquired property in Fox Chase where they built the Motherhouse and opened Saint Basil Academy in 1931 and Manor College in 1947. In 1948 they purchased real estate on Lindley Avenue in the Logan section of Philadelphia upon which they built Saint Basil Orphanage Home and Saint Basil Elementary School. The Jesus, Lover of Humanity Province grew throughout the twentieth century and its Sisters conducted schools all over the United States.

To conclude, the history of the Sisters of St. Basil originates in the 300s with the saintly family of Basil the Elder and Emmelia. Their two oldest children, Macrina and Basil, undertook the work that continues seventeen centuries later. Through faithful dedication Macrina founded the first of many monasteries, while through her virtue and maturity she guided her younger brother towards holiness. Macrina and Basil’s monastic example spread all over the world, first in Asia Minor but then in Europe, the United States, Latin America, and even Australia. The Sisters’ schools and other ministries are vital parts of their legacy as are the students, alumnae, and supporters who share in this tradition begun so long ago.

Sean McLaughlin, Director
Basilian Spirituality Center




Metropolitan Borys Visits the Parish in Passaic

On Saint Thomas Sunday, April 11, 2021, Archbishop Bishop Borys Gudziak made a pastoral visit to St. Nicholas Parish in Passaic, New Jersey.


The Metropolitan was welcomed with joyful greetings by children, the faithful, and the pastor, Fr. Andriy Dudkevych. Fr. Dudkevych thanked the Metropolitan for his time, fatherly love, and ministry.

Митрополит Кир Борис Гудзяк відвідав парафію Святого Миколая в Пассейку, Нью-Джерзі.

«Там де є єпископ, там є Церква». …

Posted by St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church on Sunday, April 11, 2021

 



Metropolitan Borys remarked in his sermon, “We have a great blessing to pray and be together. In His last words, Jesus inspires us and the apostles to proclaim the Gospel with our words, life, attitude, silence, smile, outstretched hand, [and to have] humility that Christ is risen…[so that] death and sin no longer have power over us. May the Lord help us not to be afraid and to maintain peace in our hearts, families, communities, cities, countries, and the entire world. May this deep peace and true joy always be with you.”




Archeparchy of Philadelphia Expresses Condolences to His Beatitude Sviatoslav on His Mother’s death

On April 12, 2021, Mrs. Vira Shevchuk, mother of His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Father and Head of the UGCC, and Father Vsevolod, who serves in the St. Josaphat Eparchy, passed away at the age of 74 after a serious illness. On behalf of the community of bishops, clergy, monks, and faithful of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia, Metropolitan Borys expressed his condolences to His Beatitude Sviatoslav and the entire family and assured them of spiritual support and solidarity in prayer for the repose of her soul.

Мама

Опубліковано Блаженнішієм Святославом Понеділок, 12 квітня 2021 р.


The letter of condolence reads, “Your Mother not only gave you life, through her boundless motherly tenderness and love for music and art, she opened for you a deep spiritual dimension of life and taught you to draw from deep spiritual sources that still inspire you to seek God and His beauty. The times of the atheist regime could not extinguish her faith and love for God and her Church. Through constant contact with the persecuted Church, its priests and active laity, your family created an environment where the faith of the future Head of the UGCC matured. Your Mother gave birth to you for life and for God.”

 

On behalf of the faithful in the United States, the Metropolitan thanked the newly deceased Vira for giving her sons the gift of life. “We thank the late Vira Shevchuk for her sons. Through the ministry and prayer of the sons, the fruits of her life will continue, multiply, and will give life-giving strength to many.”

His Beatitude Sviatoslav’s mother taught piano at a music school before retiring, something he reflected upon: “My mother worked at a music school almost all her life as a piano teacher. If we talk about my first memories, they are related to the piano. There was always music in our house. Even when my mother was doing household chores–for example, cooking in the kitchen–students would play the piano in the next room.”

In the letter to His Beatitude the Metropolitan concluded, “Despite our ministry and high responsibilities, as long as our parents are alive, we remain children, and their departure leaves pain and emptiness in our hearts. May the all-merciful Lord, who today receives your Mother in his Father’s arms, give a cure that will heal the wound of loss for you, your Father, and brother.”

___

 




Voice of America featured St. Nicholas church in Passaic

The past year has been challenging for the whole Church. The lack of physical presence at liturgies and various restrictions have been a trial for both the faithful and clergy. However, priests hope that as the US quarantine restrictions are eased, people will return to churches, and parishes will fully resume their activities.

Ukrainian churches in the United States began to return to the pre-quarantine system. Father Andriy Dudkevych, the pastor of St. Nicholas church in Passaic, New Jersey, told the Voice of America about the process of the recovery of parish’s life in nowadays realities and about celebrating Easter.

“With God’s blessing, we return to our everyday spiritual parish life. This year we will celebrate Easter as usual. We will also bless Easter meals here in our church hall,” he said.

The pastor noted that people follow the quarantine rules and wear masks and also make sure that children are also in masks.

The St. Nicholas parish also has a Catholic school. Just before Easter, this school began to function fully, gathering students in classrooms. Father Andriy Dudkevych considers this a special blessing, especially after the uncertain and challenging year of 2020.

Father Andriy shared another important and joyful piece of news, which gives hope for a quick return to the usual life for the St. Nicholas parish – many parishioners have already been vaccinated against the coronavirus: “A big number of our parishioners have already received the vaccine. Especially elderly people who want to go back to the normal life and not to worry, not to be afraid for themselves and their loved ones”.

The pastor is convinced that the people’s care and prayer will help overcome the pandemic that has paralyzed their spiritual life for a whole year.

Kylyna Kurochka

Based on the Voice of America story




Belief in the Resurrection is based upon the empty tomb and the appearance of the Risen Lord

The Resurrection of Our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ is based upon two facts recorded in Sacred Scripture, in the Gospels:  the empty tomb and the appearances of Our Risen Lord.

In the Gospel for Thomas Sunday (John 20:19-29), we read of the Risen Lord appearing to His disciples, who stayed behind closed door “for fear of the Jews.”  The disciples were fearful of undergoing the same treatment as did the crucified Lord.  It was reported that anyone who acknowledged Jesus as Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue.  

The first time the Risen Lord had appeared to the Apostles behind closed doors, all were present except for Thomas.  The fact that Thomas did not remain behind closed doors that day indicates that Thomas had a certain lack of fear and boldness, courage, fortitude that the others did not.  This is an indication of how we are all children of God each with our own uniqueness.  WE all have different God-given gifts and talents and different levels of fear or apprehension.  

But when Thomas returns and hears the account of the Risen Lord’s appearances, he reacts with much doubt: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and hand into His side, I will not believe.”  

A second time, a week later, the Risen Lord appeared to the disciples, and this time Thomas was present, along with the other Apostles.  The Risen Lord greets them: “Peace be with you!”  The Lord then tells Thomas: “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and it into My side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

Indeed, Thomas came to believe because he personally met the Risen Lord and had seen for himself.  This encounter with the Lord leads Thomas to acclaim Jesus, saying: “My Lord and My God.”  

We baptized Christians acknowledge and profess Jesus as Our Lord, God, and Savior. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and of the Holy Spirit.  He lived a life of humble, loving, dedicated service to the Almighty Heavenly Father. And when the hour, the time had come, He willingly suffered the terrible Passion (spitting, scourging, and crowning with thorns).  Jesus Our Lord died on the Cross, an act of self-giving, self-sacrificial Love.  He rose on the third day, as He Himself foretold.  His Resurrection is a promise, a pledge of our own, if we but remain faithful to His Word, His Gospel message of Love and Truth.

Let us seek by the grace of God to remain faithful to Christ.  Let us remember the words of Christ to Thomas: “Have you come to believe Me because you have seen Me.  Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.”  

Fr George Worschak

 




Easter celebrations in our parishes