It was the day of Pentecost, and the presence of the Holy Spirit was expressed at every turn – from the energetic first steps of young parishioners and children of the parochial Saturday school to a joyful post-liturgical banquet celebration. The parishioners of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bensenville, IL celebrated their parish feast day with a visit from His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, the spiritual father of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA on Pentecost Sunday, June 16-17, 2019.
Archbishop Daniel was the principal celebrant and homilist at the Pentecost Celebration in the parish family. While responsible for overseeing Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in 25 States of the USA, one of the “jobs” the Archbishop enjoys most is visiting thevarious parishes of the Church.
Assisted by His Grace Bishop Pankratiy of Skopelos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico, who is presently stationed in Cuba, and Very Rev. Fr. Bohdan Kalynyuk and Very Rev. Fr. Andriy Shelvakh of Holy Trinity parish community and Protodeacon Andriy Fronchak of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral (Chicago, IL), Vladyka Daniel called upon all in attendance to celebrate God’s claim on all lives as it is experienced through the Holy Mysteries of the Church.
Welcoming the hierarchs at the entrance door to the parochial temple were representatives of the youth of the parish, Sisterhood members, parish board of administration leaders and finally the pastor of the parish – Very Rev. Fr. Bohdan Kalynyuk. Responding to the most generous and kind words of welcome, Vladyka Daniel stated that "… of all the many responsibilities and duties that I would have as your archbishop, I don't think any would rival this simple occasion of being with God's peopleat a parish for the Eucharistic celebration, especially as we celebrate the 10thanniversary of parish’s ministry, the Father’s Day and your pastor’s 30thanniversary of ordination to the Holy Priesthood." he said. "…It gives me a chance to let you know how much I love you, how very proud I am to be your archbishop, and how deeply grateful I am for your commitment, your fidelity, and your generosity to Christ Jesus and His church..."
The parish church was packed and many people arrived ahead of time to be sure to get seats. They smiled as Archbishop Daniel entered the church and posed for pictures with him at the banquet held after the liturgy.
Following the Gospel reading for the feast of Pentecost, Archbishop Daniel delivered a sermon, reflection upon the meaning of the Great Feast of Pentecost: “…Pentecost Sunday represents an ending as well as a beginning: the end of the “Great Fifty Days” of the Pascha/Easter Season (Pentecost means “the 50th day” in Greek language) and the beginning of the commemorations of the early church. Pentecost also gives us an opportunity to ask ourselves the question, “What is our community ‘on fire’ about?”
For the early church, Pentecost was the second most important part of the Christian year after Pascha or Easter. Originally, it commemorated both the Ascension of Christ and the descending of the Holy Spirit, but became two distinct celebrations by the end of the fourth century. Pentecost also became a favorite time for baptisms with its focus on the work of the Holy Spirit within the church and within our lives…”
We come to the great feast of Pentecost, the great feast of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit strengthens us in 3 different ways:
- In our relationship with Jesus. We all have our heroes in sporting world, in the music world, in politics or history, etc. These are figures we admire but we are not friends with these people. It’s not the same with Christ Jesus, He is a living presence. The most important relationship/friendship in my life is with my Savior. If you love your father and mother more than you love me you are not worthy of me. This is how central our relationship with Jesus Christ should be.
- In our capacity to defend the faith. The Holy Orthodox faith is under attack in our world today. When I recently spoke about preserving the dignity of funerals in our Faith communities, I was criticized as the Church imposing its ethos. Every time the Church speaks out we are constantly being challenged. We need to preserve the dignity of the Holy Mysteries. The most persecuted religion in our world today is Christianity. Look at what happened recently in Sri Lanka and this is a pattern in Africa and Asia. In our western world we are no facing a physical challenge but a more difficult challenge and that is apathy, less people attending church services, shortage of priests, people just do not want to be involved in the church. We need to work together as a faith community, preserve what we have and build on the wonderful community spirit that we have here. We need to pray for a new Pentecost and a renewed church and for this we need to open our minds and hearts to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will be essential in this task. We must defend our faith and the Holy Spirit will strengthen us for this task.
- In our capacity to spread the faith. Every baptized person is a missionary. Our faith is not something private that we hang on to. Because of the shortage of priests and monastics, this task is our common task; we need to work together as the Apostles were together with Birth-Giver of God on that First Pentecost morning.
Further in his sermon, Vladyka Daniel reflected upon the calling to ministry and work of Evangelization in the Church. The archbishop journeyed through the parish history of the past 10 years and explained to the faithful in attendance the ways in which the Grace of the Holy Spirit worked in the life of the parish, from the moment of conception and up to the present day.
Seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary Yarolav Bilohan and Pavlo Vysotskyj assisted the clergy in the altar, while a group of chanters of the parish, sang the responses to the Divine Liturgy.
At the conclusion of the Eucharistic celebration, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel awarded Very Rev. Bohdan Kalynyuk – pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Bensenville, IL by St. Job of Pochaiv medal, which was created by the Council of Bishops of the UOC of the USA and designated to recognize the pastoral and charitable service of the clergy and faithful of the Church. Upon the recommendation of the pastor and the parish board of administration of the parish community, several other parishioners received the ecclesiastical awards of the Council of Bishops of the Church: Halyna Hrushetska – St. Petro Mohyla medal; Ihor Prokulevych and Nadiya Bubniv – Sts Borys and Hlib medal; Volodymyr Dovhajchuk, Petro Viniarsky, Lesia Hrynyk, Larysa Diak, Halyna Karasijchuk, Vanetyna Kozlenko, Mykola Makoviychuk – UOC of the USA Centennial medals. Several parishioners were presented Blessed Certificates in recognition for their devotion and work for the benefit of the parish community.
Photos by Seminarian Yaroslav Bilohan