The clergy of the Western European Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora gathered in Ingolstadt, Germany for a prayerful celebration of the Fourth Saturday of Great Lent at the Protection of the Birth-Giver of God Ukrainian Orthodox parish under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Fr. Alexander Smoktunowitch.
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Archbishop Daniel (in his capacity as eparchial bishop of the Western-European Eparchy) lead the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the church temple, where the Ukrainian Orthodox Christians have been praying since 1940s.
The children, teachers and parents of the parochial School of Ukrainian language and Religion welcomed the hierarch to the temple, introducing him to the youth of the parish that has joined the parish community since the beginning of the ongoing aggression of Russian Federation against the people and nation of Ukraine
Reciting the poetry, the children welcomed Vladyka Daniel with the lyrics that brough not only the bishop but the hundreds of people in attendance to tears: “…as the children of Ukraine, who have been forced to leave our motherland, we welcome you, as our bishop, into our lives while offering you our wounded hearts with the request for prayerful consolation and healing… pray for us, as we miss our relatives and friends in Ukraine, yet establishing new relationships with the people in our community and greater Western European Ukrainian Orthodox family…” With the expressions of parental love and care, while receiving flowers from the children, Archbishop Daniel embraced each child of the parish family, presenting them with candy, as a token of his archpastoral love and care.
Upon the entrance to the temple, thirty clergy in unison greeted the hierarch with the prayers, presenting him with a hand cross for veneration. Receiving the sacred image of the cross from the hands of the pastor, Vladyka Daniel reflected upon his first historic visit to the parish community, to a place, where numerous hierarchs and clergy in the past have preceded him in the spiritual service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in Bavaria, Germany.
The Liturgy was prayerfully served with over 150 people in attendance, many of whom approached the Holy Mysteries of Repentance and Eucharist. During the Liturgy, the prayers were offered for the wounded soldiers and civilians of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. A special Memorial Prayer was chanted for the newly-reposed servant of God soldier Ihor – the father of Dobrodiyka Ilona Dovgan (wife of Fr. Vasyl Dovgan of Troy, NY), who was recently killed, fulfilling his military duty while protecting the peace and freedom of Ukraine.
The archbishop’s sermon concentrated on the importance of out Christian expressions of love and kindness in the sacred time of the Great and Holy Lent. Vladyka Daniel concluded stating: “…Ask not what Christ Jesus can do for you, but what you can do for Christ...”
In conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the clergy and faithful in attendance partook in a Lenten luncheon prepared by the parish family.
The meeting of the eparchial clergy took place in the parish temple, following a short break, which enabled people to meet the hierarch and to receive his spiritual parental blessing.
The agenda of the clergy meeting touched upon logistical pastoral questions and guidance as it pertains to liturgical services, practical aspects of Church administration, the Church calendar and the growing need to offer adequate spiritual and educational guidance and care for the refugees that arrived from Ukraine to France, Belgium and Germany.
The meeting concluded with a blessing and presentation of Eparchial liturgical vestments to all clergy and deacons in attendance. With the blessing of Metropolitan Antony, Vladyka Daniel presented Fr. Alexander Smoktunowitch with a church award ““For the Love of the Church and the People of Ukraine”, honoring Fr. Alexander’s devotion and assistance offered to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in obtaining and shipping medical and logistical vehicles to Ukraine in the time of Russian aggression against the nation of Ukraine.
On behalf of St. Andrew's Ukrainian Orthodox Society (charitable organizations of the UOC of the USA), Archbishop Daniel presented the clergy in attendance with the financial charitable assistance, thus attending to the needs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in Germany.