A Festive Day at the Cathedral: Anniversaries and a Diaconal Ordination

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The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia marked several important events on December 12. First it was praznyk, the liturgical Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Theotokos, but there were also two milestones. It was the 55th anniversary of the Cathedral’s consecration and the 135th anniversary of the parish community. Finally, Andriy Rubel, who arrived in May to serve in the Archeparchy at the invitation of Metropolitan Borys Gudziak, was ordained to the deaconate.

Fr. Roman Pitula, the Cathedral’s pastor; Fr. Roman Oliynyk; Fr. Andriy Chornopysky; Fr. Ostap Mykytchyn; Deacon Volodymyr Radko; and a special guest, Fr. Orest Rubel concelebrated the Liturgy which was presided over by the Metropolitan. Fr. Orest Rubel is Deacon Andriy’s father, he has been a priest of the Eparchy of Sokal-Zhovkva for 30 years.

In his sermon Metropolitan Borys, assisted by Yurchyk Pitula, stressed the importance of the Immaculate Conception. “As we prepare for Christmas, we focus our attention on God becoming human. Motherhood is something sacred, and every woman who gives birth to a child is called to the great heights of this task. Yet the One who bore God was preserved from all sin,” said the Archbishop.

He explained that original sin may be metaphorically described as “a big grab,” while the soul is intended by God to be purely giving rather than grabbing. “Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb through the love of Joachim and Ann but without original sin–a tendency to grab, to take, to reap away, to conceal, to hold, to be jealous, to conquer, to plunder.”

“May this feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God–who brought the Son of God into this world–give us new creativity and new strength to carry Christ into this world wherever we are in true peace and in real joy. We have our limitations, our sinfulness, but we also have our ability to proclaim the Gospel and do good. Today’s feast would not be complete if you and I did not stand together in our God-bearing ability, in our ability to carry Christ into the world,” said the Metropolitan.

Pastor Fr. Roman Pitula thanked all the parishioners who have contributed to the construction and development of the parish for the last 135 years. “I hope that the Cathedral, which is a central shrine for Ukrainian Catholics in America, will exist for decades and centuries, and that future generations will also pray for us,” he said.

The diaconal ordination took place towards the end of the Liturgy, before Communion. Metropolitan Borys happily shared the following with those gathered, “Today we have a great joy: our eparchy receives a new deacon who wants to give his life to God and His people. Andriy Rubel and his wife Halyna have made a profound decision to give themselves to the service of the Church.”

Andriy Rubel’s father, Fr. Orest, held a cross and a trikirion in his hands as he led his son through the royal gates, saying: “By the will of God and the work of the Most Holy and life-giving Spirit, and with the blessing of our Most Reverend Metropolitan Borys, the devout Subdeacon Andriy is being elevated to the diaconate.”

While priests sang O Holy Martyrs, Subdeacon Andriy walked around the altar three times and kissed its four corners. He then knelt before the altar while Metropolitan Borys laid his hands upon him, thus ordaining him to the rank of deacon. The laying on of hands is among the most ancient practices of the faith.

After the ordination prayers, the priests and faithful repeatedly proclaimed “Axios,” which means “worthy,” while Metropolitan Borys presented Deacon Andriy with an oration, armbands, a censer, a ripidion, and the Gospel book.

Following the Liturgy Archbishop Borys introduced the newly ordained deacon’s wife, Halyna, who has completed higher theological studies and works as a videographer and photographer for the Archeparchy. “It is not easy to be the wife of a priest. At least 60% of the fruitfulness of a married priest depends on his wife, so today we also pray for you,” said the Metropolitan. He also thanked Bishop Mykhailo Koltun of Sokal-Zhovkva, who allowed a seminarian from his eparchy to serve in the United States and become part of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia.

There was a parish concert after the Liturgy during which St. Nicholas visited the children of the parish.

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