“…from generation to generation…”
Standing in the candle-lit parish church shoulder-to-shoulder with worshipers, one wonders just what the bishops of the Church will say to the congregation that prays, serves and cares for each other and the community around them for over 100 years.
For the past 712 days (2 years) the Centennial Committee with it’s co-chairs, Terese Masur and Donna Nevels, have been diligently preparing for the Centennial Celebration of Sts. Peter and Paul parish. The long awaited celebration came to culmination on October 17 - 18, 2009.
The last couple of weeks everyone, including Church School children and Jr. UOL chapter members, have been working extra hard to make this celebration a special and a memorable one.
The Jr. UOL members spruced up the grounds and cleaned the Holy Temple for the occasion. The younger children and their families prepared handmade posters of 100 symbols for the parish’s birthday. Some of the posters included: cross made of 100 buttons, 100 candles, 100 saints, 100 kind words, 10 commandments 10 times, 100 animals, 100 church words and many other. The children processed with their posters in the fellowship hall following the Divine Liturgy.
Archbishop Antony, the president of the Consistory of the UOC of the USA joined Bishop Daniel, of the Western Eparchy to participate in the centennial celebrations of the parish family. On Saturday night, the Archbishop was welcomed to the parish temple by the pastor of the community Very Rev. Fr. Taras Naumenko. Numerous parishioners and visitors to the parish participated in the Vespers service of the evening, while reflecting on the prayerful ministry of the parish family. The Archbishop reflected that our forefathers “came from different places and parts of Ukraine and other countries but united in their focus on the Lord. The pastors of the parish as well as the lay members of the community that followed reached out to people, not seeking power or fame, but to serve, because of this we have a vibrant and thriving parish today.”
Following the prayer services, the clergy in attendance – Very Rev. Fr. Myron Oryhon, pastor of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox cathedral in Allentown, PA; Very Rev. Raymond Sundland, pastor of Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Hammond, IN; Rev. Fr. Taras Maximtsev, pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Goshen, IN and Rev. Fr. Paul Martin, – parishioners and visitors shared in a small evening reception, honoring the ministry of the parish community. Bishop Daniel also arrived for the evening services, following the dedication of a new center for Ukrainian youth in Palatine, IL.
On Sunday morning, both hierarchs were greeted at the Church doors by the children of the parish with flowers, with bread and salt presented by Josephine Hobert, Sisterhood president, and the words of welcome were expressed by the president of the parish board of administration Mark Masur. The pastor of the parish, Fr. Taras Naumenko, assisted by Very Rev. Fr. Myron Oryhon, Rev. Deacon Silouan Rolando and Rev. Deacon Andriy Fronchak, welcomed the hierarchs, asking of them to remember in their prayers the numerous pastors and founders of the parish community as the community celebrates its centennial jubilee.
Prior to Divine Liturgy the bishops blessed a Deisus Icon, donated by the Cheruvim family a Paschal Triple-Candlestick, donated by the Jr. UOL Chapter and an embroidered banner bearing an icon of St. Andrew donated by Cypynsky family, all in commemoration of the celebration.
In his sermon, Archbishop Antony reflected on the mission of a parish in this modern secular world. His Eminence encouraged the faithful to live their Faith on a daily basis, confronting the false morality of the world with the acts of love and kindness that are based on the commandments of our Lord. He reminded them that they must see every other human being in the world through the eyes of God. When He looks at us He has proven to us the depth of love He has for us - to the point that He was willing to send His Only-begotten Son - our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to us. "We human beings are worth much more than our weight in diamonds, or gold or anything else of the world...we are worth dying for, as He did for us on the Holy Cross." The Archbishop assured the faithful that the only way to celebrate this centennial event is to throw open our church doors and to invite in all who seek truth, love and family. The faithful of the parish must BE CHRIST to all who need His presence, His truth, and His Love.
Following the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy, Fr. Deacon Andriy Fronchak exclaimed the call: “Commend, Master!”, as Fr. Deacon Silouan Rolando was escorted into the Holy Space of the parish church by Fr. Taras Naumenko to be ordained a presbyter through the laying on of hands by His Grace Bishop Daniel. This was the bishop’s first ordination to the Holy Priesthood, and both the bishop and Fr. Silouan with the emotions expressed on their faces approached the Holy Altar for the ordination moment. Then the communal “Axios! Worthy!” was exclaimed, as the bishop vested a new priest into his priestly vestments.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Daniel also congratulated the parish family on the celebration of their centennial anniversary, urging the parish family to remember those who had gone before to make the parish what it is today. “Remember your ancestors whose focus was our Lord. Christ is our hope and was the hope of those who had built their first church and had turned it into a house of prayer.” he said. Presenting a newly-ordained priest to the congregation His Grace reflected upon the ministry of a priest saying, “…the pastor’s work enriches the faith of the people, always focusing on Jesus Christ, he is there to reach out, give hope and consolation to those he, as pastor, comes in contact with.”
The day concluded at the “Ruffled Feathers” country club, honoring the ministry of the parish family at the jubilee banquet. The president of the parish board of administration, Mark Masur welcomed everyone in attendance to the celebration, expressing the parish’s gratitude to the clergy, visitors, His Excellency Consul General of Ukraine in Chicago Konstiantyn Kudryk and his wife Olena, representatives of the Self-reliance Credit Union for their participation in the centennial celebration. Very Rev. Fr. Taras Naumenko, the pastor of the parish family, reflected at length on the prayerful history of the parish, stating: “…today is not the end of the celebration; it is only the beginning of something wonderful. We have been created to love and to be loved, and Christ has became man to make it possible for us to love and He loved us. So let our mission for the next 100 years be love and compassion, the greatest commandment of our Lord. Remembering – it is how much love we put in action is what matters.”
At the conclusion of the banquet, His Grace Bishop Daniel gave his closing remarks, stating that “…today, Sts Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox church is a vibrant and thriving parish…Give what you can of time, talent and treasure to the church, as that is what will allow the taproots of the gospel to grow deep. You must spread the Gospel so that in 50 years at the 150th anniversary there will be an even bigger celebration.” The bishop concluded that “…if there is one word that accurately describes the make up of this particular parish family – it must be a family. For by that term, the parish and the faithful members of the community are known among the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the local community, in which the parish exists and participates in numerous charitable outreach activities. I am grateful for your commitment to bringing services, opportunities and brotherly love to this community and beyond. My prayer is that you may continue to bless those who seek your services and experience further growth and prosperity for the next 100 years and beyond.”