Held Sunday, July 31, at St. Nicholas Hall in Primrose, PA, the 88th Ukrainian Seminary Day brought together several hundred people.
Starting from the early 1930s, parishes of the South Anthracite Deanery, which is comprised of 12 Ukrainian Catholic parishes, mark this day as a special occasion to celebrate their faith and culture and to support Saint Josaphat Seminary in Washington, DC.
Although Ukrainian Catholics who live in the region are the the fourth-fifth generation born in the US, they cherish Ukrainian culture. The Russian war against Ukraine was in the focus of this year’s gathering.
“Today, resistance of Ukrainians against violence, aggression, propaganda, torture, and wanton destruction is changing the world. There are 20 wars in the world but this war, this resistance continues to be before the eyes of the world. It is because the people of Ukraine are giving their lives for the truth,” noted in his homily Archbishop Borys Gudziak who recently came back from Ukraine. He shared a story of Artemiy Dymyd, the son of his friend, who was killed by a mortar fire on the frontline in eastern Ukraine two months ago.
“We are living in a time when people stop believing in eternal life and do not know how to deal with death. Ukrainians, the members of our Church in Ukraine, are showing that they believe,” continued the Metropolitan.
Reflecting upon the Gospel of the day (the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes), the Archbishop stressed the importance of trust in God’s love, bounty, and presence, and the healing which our faith brings. “If we trust in what we hear in the Gospel — that Jesus heals, makes whole, and feeds — we live differently. Fear, anxiety, and all the other negative passions do not possess us and we have peace and joy in our hearts”.
The Divine Liturgy concluded with bidding farewell to Most Rev Mykola Ivanov, pastor of Shamokin and Marion Heights, who has received a new assignment, and the introduction of the Rev. Mark Fesniak, pastor of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Minersville, as the new dean of the South Anthracite Deanery.
In his brief word Fr. Mykola thanked parishioners of South Anthracite Deanery. “Because of you, your hard work, and your prayers our Church exists,” he emphasized.
Archbishop Borys express his gratitude to Fr. Mykola and Fr. Mark for their service and readiness to take on new responsibilities. He also shared the news that starting August 1st, auxiliary bishop Andriy Rabiy will be a pastor of Shamokin and Marion Heights. “We are bringing to you the best we have. Bishop Andriy completed his service in Saint Michael’s parish in Jenkintown and is coming to the South Anthracite Deanery. And I am asking him to do something that we have not done since metropolitan Stephen Sulyk’s time – canonical visits to our parishes”.
Addressing the people after the liturgy, the Archbishop shared with them the experience of his recent visit to Ukraine, especially to Bucha and Irpin where Russian forces committed brutal war crimes. He thanked the gathered for their prayer, for being informed, and for their generous help and noted that according to his estimate, American Catholics have donated more than 100 million dollars to help Ukraine.
He assured them that Ukrainians are grateful for the help. “Take that home and tell any doubter, Ukrainians will not give up. They will continue to give their lives for the truth, for God-given dignity, and for their independence”
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