UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Atlanta GA!
Submitted by I. Kohut
Indeed, the time flies… It has been 10 years on May 1st 2008 since newly ordained priest Fr. Bohdan Maruszak and his wife Pani-Matka Ivana came to Atlanta and began full-time Liturgical services at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Mission. For the first few years services were held at rented chapel every Sunday and on Holy Days. For each service the chapel needed to be adapted in order to serve the Divine Liturgy by setting up the icon-screen, the altar, and other liturgical items, which had to be stored again in a separate room after the services. Fr. Bohdan was able to find secular employment, which enabled the Mission to save funds for the purchase of land for our own Church. Christ in His gospel teaches: “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” We believe that Father Bohdan and Panimatka Ivana, in their dedication and commitment, have proven to be good examples of that teaching of the Lord. Through much hard work and co-operation between Father and all the parishioners our dream came true and we now have our own Church building and property and have become a full-fledged parish.
On Saturday December 13, 2008 His Grace Bishop Daniel arrived in Atlanta for the celebration of the tenth anniversary of our parish’s existence and ministry among the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in Georgia. The Bishop celebrated Vespers that evening, following which the faithful in attendance gathered in a Fellowship hall for meal prepared by St. Andrew’s Sisterhood. Fr. Bohdan introduced His Grace Bishop Daniel, Rev. Peter Siwko, Pastor of St. Catherine Parish in Arden Hills, MN and Rev. Ivan Lymar, Pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Trenton, NJ – former pastor of our Parish in 2002-2004 – and seminarian Vasyl Dovhan, a student at St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary at our Metropolia Center, South Bound Brook/Somerset NJ.
Following the prayer and the meal, Bishop Daniel and Fr. Bohdan visited each table, enabling the Bishop to meet all of the parishioners and visitors present. Everyone was overjoyed to have this personal opportunity to speak with the Bishop personally.
On Sunday morning, December 14, Fr. Bohdan, Panimatka Ivana and Olha Henson who wrote a poem in honor of the His Grace, greeted Bishop Daniel at the entrance to the Church welcoming our Hierarch to our Faith community. After receiving a blessing from the Bishop, Fr. Bohdan began the Divine Liturgy. During the service you could feel that people were emotionally moved, almost all of them participating in the hymns and responses of the Liturgy, filling the whole Church with a prayerful sense of worship. It was a very solemn, spiritually rewarding and festive service.
The Apostle and Holy Gospel readings were offered in both Ukrainian and English. After the readings His Grace concentrated his sermon on the many blessings received from God since the foundation of the parish community. The Bishop challenged the parishioners to continue in their faith and in the size of the parish family and to share the Word of God with much love. He urged them to become sincere followers of Christ as this 21st century progresses – with all its troubles and dilemmas – all of which will fade away in the bright Light of Christ’s love. Everyone in Church was moved and inspired by His Grace Bishop Daniel’s sermon. It is all too seldom that we have a Bishop or any other guest clergy serving in our Parish, so this will be a memorable experience for all. For some participants, it was a first ever opportunity to share in a Divine Liturgy celebrated by a Hierarch. It was a joy to see so many of our faithful participating in the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion – the Eucharist.
At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, Bishop Daniel awarded some parishioners with Blessed Hramotas - Certificates of Recognition – for their work and dedication to the ministry of the Parish family in the Name of Christ. In addition, His Grace expressed personal greetings from the other two hierarchs of the UOC of the USA, Metropolitan Constantine and Archbishop Antony, to the faithful of our parish family.
After the service all the participants were invited to a local hotel for a festive banquet and Bandurist concert by Duo “Hadanochka”. Mr. Andirj Khomenko, a Master of ceremonies of the banquet, led the program in two languages. The staff of the hotel kitchen went out of their way to prepare “Ukrainian borsch”, which is not part of their regular menu. Everyone enjoyed the delicious food, a wonderful concert and good Orthodox Christian fellowship.
During the banquet Dr. Gennady Cymbalyuk – president of the Parish Board of Administration expressed his gratitude to His Grace Bishop Daniel as well to Fr. Bohdan Maruszak and Fr. Ivan Lymar for their service to St. Andrew Parish. In conclusion, the Fr. Bohdan, as pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish, expressed his gratitude to all those who helped to prepare such a great event and to those who during the past ten year period were supporting our parish. He stressed that the wealth and strength of our Christian community is measured in the quality of the people who are members of St. Andrew Parish. He also mentioned the importance of preserving our Ukrainian heritage and traditions, language and all other important values that make us unique.
His Grace Bishop Daniel concluded the banquet with his remarks asking everyone for their prayers and closed the celebration with prayer.