UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
64th Annual UOL Convention Concludes in Philadelphia, PA!
Philadelphia, PA isn’t just the City of Brotherly Love — it also happens to be a place of this year’s Ukrainian Orthodox League Convention.
Delegates from all over the United States converged in this “City of Brotherly Love” for the three day conference to hammer out what it means to be a member of the Ukrainian Orthodox League of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in a world of dense and diverse realities of the 21st century.
The working session of this year’s Convention opened on Wednesday night, July 27th with the Vespers for the feast day of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Volodymyr, baptizer of Kyiv Rus – Ukraine. His Eminence Archbishop Antony, the Ruling Hierarch of the Eastern Eparchy and the President of the Consistory of the UOC of the USA and His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA presided over the liturgical service, which was served by Protopriest Taras Naumenko, a pastor of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia, PA and a spiritual advisor to Sts. Vladimir UOL Chapters in Philadelphia, PA – the hosts of this year’s 64th Annual UOL Convention.
Mrs. Martha Misko, Senior UOL President and Ms. Taylor Gladys, Junior UOL President opened the working sessions of the Convention with the words of hope and a vision towards the future that touches the lives of the generations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Christians across the USA. On behalf of the Convention body, Mrs. Misko offered words of prayerful regret that due to his illness, the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, Metropolitan Constantine is not able to join this year’s Convention body. However, the delegates pledged to offer prayers for their Metropolitan and his speedy recovery.
This years Convention is a conference like no other in the past. First, it recalled the task of the 63rd UOL Convention, establishing goals for the next 10 years, experimenting with a joint sponsorship arrangement between Church’s Offices of Ministry and local chapter partnerships in witnessing to the works of Christ among the faithful of the Church. Second of all, the Convention brought together a balanced mix of junior and senior delegates - compassionate ministry participants in the life of the Church.
On Thursday morning, July 28th, the feast day of St. Volodymyr the Great, the Divine Liturgy was served by Archbishop Antony, Bishop Daniel and the two spiritual advisors of the UOL: Very Rev. Fr. Myron Oryhon, Sr. National UOL spiritual advisor and Very Rev. Fr. Taras Naumenko, Sr. and Jr. St. Vladimir UOL Chapters spiritual advisor in Philadelphia, PA. Inspiration was provided by liturgical prayer services and punctuated by addresses of various speakers of the day.
Following the Divine Liturgy, the hierarchs of the Church in their Convention remarks reminded the delegates of the need for the successful and spiritually oriented chapters and parishes today and in the future because with the growing number of forces undermining the stability of family life and with the increasing mobility of our society with its concomitant fruits of isolation, alienation and depersonalization, there is less structure within our nation for people to come together and to support each other through mutual interdependence. Yet the basis of our Christian faith and indeed of healthy human living depends upon this mutual interdependence, upon our willingness to be aware of and concerned about one another. The UOL chapters are the place where this interdependence can and should happen, the place where support systems for Christian formation and Christian living must constantly be developed and fashioned in light of changing needs and changing circumstances.
His Eminence Archbishop Antony addressed the Convention body outlining Christ’s ministry of teaching, preaching and healing as the program for developing and balancing chapter-parish ministries. He challenged the delegates to be good stewards of the message, mandate, and manifestation of holiness by ensuring that we continue to live the holiness lifestyle both in and outside the Church as salt and light in the world of modernity.
In the spirit of Christian love and charitable giving, the Ukrainian Orthodox league presented His Eminence Archbishop Antony, on behalf of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Society, with a check in the amount of over $4000 for the charitable work of St. Andrew Society that ministers among the less fortunate in Ukraine.
Michael Nakonechny, a member of St. Vladimir UOL Chapter form Parma, OH offered a reflection on the ministry of All Saints Camp, a place that can be called a spiritual “home” for so many junior and senior UOL members that have started their Faith journey at the Church’s Camp in Emlenton, PA.
Thursday concluded with a dinner at Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA, inviting the delegates for an evening of camaraderie and fun.
Perhaps, the sentiment expressed in the words of a young delegate, who asked to remain unknown is the most uplifting reason why the faithful of the Church travel thousands of miles to attend UOL Conventions:
“I am excited about “my” Church for the first time in my life. I believe that God had me go to this year’s UOL Convention to show me where He wants me to be, and I have never felt so sure of something in my Christian walk as I do, this. The things that are presented at the Convention and the spirit that is here are the things for which I am passionate, and it is such a wonderful feeling to have been searching for something you couldn’t name and finally find it - and so unexpectedly! “I don’t understand how something as exciting as what is being done with those involved in the Convention is at times so unknown within the Church. How could I have been in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA for over twenty years and never heard anything of it? Isn’t this the stuff of Christ’s ministry? Shouldn’t reaching out to people (and more) be what Church as an organization is about? “I will never be content to sit in a pew and just participate in Church again, and I thank God that there are people who are willing to dedicate themselves to things like UOL Convention. I know that these working sessions, combined with the ministry of the UOL and our Church accomplish innumerable things. But even if it hadn’t, I feel like God is allowing me to see a Church that I never knew existed. So, thank you hierarchs, clergy and UOL for waking me up!”
Friday morning, July 29th brought yet another day of Christ-centered ministry and work during the 64th Annual UOL Convention!
Friday’s business sessions included Archpastoral remarks by His Grace Bishop Daniel, stating: “When we come together in our meetings, either at the Convention or the SOBOR we never fail to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and other divine services with the Bishop presiding. Our worship is the foundation of our Church life, including our charitable work, our social and fellowship events, administration and yes, our organization meetings. Thus when we gather from all points of the Metropolia to discuss the work of the Ukrainian Orthodox League we can do this in one of two ways:
We can either have “business meeting” in which we act like we are legislators or corporation board members and struggle with our various personal agendas to accomplish personal goals and visions, or we can purposely strive to truly continue the work of the Divine Liturgy, as the Local Church, to seek and to do the will of God. It is this “Method of Operation” that I exhort you to follow in your meetings.
Let us not treat lightly the prayers with which we open our meetings. These prayers should be more than the “first order of business” and then forgotten. Rather they should resonate in our ears as we go on to agenda items that follow, and take the plans and decisions of this body to our homes. Just as the Holy Spirit created unity on the day of Pentecost, He will do so for us if we only actively invite Him to be in our midst.”
The convention body again broke out into working committees to continue the effort begun last evening. Following the committee meetings, their reports were duplicated for consideration by the entire convention body. These approved items become mandatory for the local chapters to act upon and support.
During the session, Junior National Executive Board President Taylor Gladys announced a $6,445.42 donation to fund the building of a monastery in Lancaster, PA. The funds were raised by the Great Lent Giveaway project and presented to His Eminence Archbishop Antony.
The elections of the National Executive Boards of both Junior and Senior UOL were the last order of business on each convention’s agenda. The Allentown 2012 Convention committee gave a thrilling presentation in preparation for next year's convention. The business sessions of the 62nd UOL Convention were closed with the Benediction offered by His Grace Bishop Daniel and the singing of the Ukrainian National.
Following the Vespers service, the delegates traveled to St. Vladimir Cathedral’s social hall of a night of “OSTAPs”, an entertaining evening featuring the reflections on the past years of UOL’s social life and presentations of the Oscars-Ostaps… Following the evening entertainment, Convention participants were hosted by Holy Protection St. Mary’s Sr. and Jr. Chapters, Allentown, PA, hosts of the 65th UOL Convention in 2012.
Saturday morning began with the Akathist service to the Mother of God of Pochaiv, served by the Senior UOL spiritual advisor Very Rev. Fr. Myron Oryhon, reflecting on the history and spirituality of the miraculous icon. For the remainder of the day delegates had the opportunity to visit various historical sites of Philadelphia. The Vespers service concluded the day, with the reflections of Bishop Daniel, stating that even though the Convention has come to an end; however, the real work – ministry just begins now, as the delegates travel back to their chapters, sharing with each other the knowledge and inspiration received during the Convention.
On Saturday evening, the Convention Grand Banquet and Ball took place. However, prior to the official beginign of the banquet, the delegates of the Convention gathered together for a 50th Junior UOL Reunion, which connected the members of the League from the past with the present younger generation. The traditional awards were presented, as the final official acts during the Convention, by the Jr. and Sr. UOL Presidents and the LSSK and Seminarian Scholarships were announced.
The Protopresbyter Stephen Hallick-Holutiak Sr. Orthodox of the Year Award was presented to Mary Ann Sklaryk , Parma, OH. The Sr. Chapter of the Year Award went to Sts Peter and Paul UOL Chapter, Carnegie, PA. The Metro J. Baran Award Award went to Melanie Nakonechny of St. Vladimir Sr. UOL Chapter in Parma, OH and the Jr. Chapter of the Year Award was presented to Holy Ascension UOL Jr. Chapter of Maplewood, NJ. Anna Wachuck of Youngstown, OH was presented with the V. Rev. Fr. Bukata Senior UOL Award.
Seminarians awarded scholarships from the Metropolitan John Scholarship Fund were: Subdeacons Vasyl Pasakas, Andriy Matlak, Phlip Harendza, Ioan Mazur and Vasyl Dovhan of St. Sophia Seminary. Also awarded seminarian scholarships were Rev. Deacon Nicholas Zachary of St. Sophia Seminary, James Guba of Holy Cross Seminary, Boston, MA.
The Convention came to conclusion on Sunday morning at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia, PA. Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Archbishop Antony and Bishop Daniel, assisted by parish pastor, V. Rev. Taras Naumenko, Very Rev. Jakiw Norton and Protodeacon Oleh Maletych of St. Andrew Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, NJ.
Prior to the beginning of the service the Senior and Junior UOL Presidents as well as cathedral’s representatives greeted the Hierarchs at St. Vladimir’s Cathedral with thanks for their spiritual guidance during the Convention, and presented each with flowers and traditional bread and salt, while the pastor of the parish community Very Rev. Fr. Taras Naumenko welcomed the bishops to the cathedral, calling upon the bishops to remember in their prayers the founders and members of the UOL that has reposed in the Lord.
A very special “Thank You” is extended to all the Hierarchs, clergy, delegates and guests who attended this year’s Convention, and all are invited to attend next year’s Annual UOL Convention in Allentown, PA.