UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
2011 Annual Clergy Conference!
Submitted by a priest of the UOC of the USA
The clergy: bishops, priests and deacons of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA were blessed, once again, with the opportunity to come together in faith and fellowship for 3 days at the end of October at the Antiochian Village, in Western Pennsylvania. In his opening remarks after the Vespers Service that marked the beginning of the Conference, His Beatitude Metropolitan Constantine spoke of the importance of such gatherings for the spiritual and psychological wellbeing of our clergy, and of his joy at being able to share in another such gathering. He also expressed his deep gratitude to His brother bishops: His Eminence Archbishop Antony and His Grace Bishop Daniel, for the many tasks they performed in his stead during his convalescence.
Each day of the Conference began and ended with liturgical prayer, as Services were held in the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul. Molebens to our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, as well as Blessed Raphael of Brooklyn, whose Final Place of Rest is there on the property, a Memorial Litia commemorating all of the Clergy of our Holy Church in the USA, and daily Vespers Services were all held, leading up to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on the final day, and providing one of the great joys of any clergyman’s life- the opportunity to participate in the beautiful Services of the Church.
On the second day of the Conference, our clergy heard presentations from Archimandrite Meletios (Webber), Ihumen (Abbot) of the Monastery of St. John of San Francisco. Father Meletios, a spiritual son of Bishop Kallistos (Ware), is a well known author and speaker, and spoke concerning certain aspects of the spiritual life that affect all human beings, clergy and laity alike, but of which clergy must be especially aware, in the performance of their God-given responsibility to spiritually direct those entrusted to their care. A number of the Fathers of the Church teach the specific topics which Father discussed, but his gift is to be able to present these sometimes complex themes in a way both understandable and one to which all can relate - our Clergy were certainly blessed to have been able to hear these presentations.
In addition, a workshop for Deacons of the Metropolia was skillfully led by Very Rev. Fr. Taras Naumenko, a pastor of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia, PA who reviewed with the deacons of the Church the liturgical Ustav and reflected upon their ministry in the pastoral parish setting.
On the second day of the Conference a number of different presentations were heard and discussions held. It began with questions, answers and discussion between our parish clergy and our hierarchs, as difficult and delicate issues were openly and frankly discussed, in a spirit of Christian love and pastorship. A Liturgical Workshop for our Deacons was held, and our current Clergy had the opportunity to meet a number of our potential future Clergy, as His Grace Bishop Daniel and Very Reverend Bazyl Zawierucha, the Dean of Students and Rector of St. Sophia’s Seminary, respectively, gave a presentation on the current state of the Seminary, and of vocations in our Holy Metropolia, during which all of the current full-time Seminarians were introduced.
Reverend Fr. Silouan Rolando gave a presentation on the website he has been developing for many years, which contains an abundance of liturgical music, in various styles and settings, and is free of charge - truly a labor of love, the goal of which is to enhance our worship of God. Very Reverend Volodymyr Steliac gave a presentation on his Doctoral Project, on which he is currently working through the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in pursuit of his Doctor of Ministry Degree, dealing with the integration of the “Fourth Wave” of Ukrainian immigrants to America into Parish life here in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. Finally, Very Reverend John Harvey shared how our Parish of Saints Peter and Paul, in Youngstown, Ohio, has made the commitment to move from the ineffective method of dues, used to support their Parish and its Christian Mission, to the established Biblical concept of stewardship.
The common element throughout the entire Conference, present during the Divine Services, the Presentations, the Discussions, the shared meals, and the crucial time for simple fellowship with others who have walked in your shoes and whose experiences mirror your own, was the knowledge, beyond any simple feeling, of the brotherhood in which we are all a part, called by God in a way that cannot be explained to others, to serve our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, here, in the Vineyard which He has planted with His own Right hand - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States of America. Lord, it is good that we are here!