The family that prays together, stays together. The family that stays together is a strong family.
The parish family of Sts. Peter and Paul in Palos Park has come together to pray and celebrate a special occasion on October 4-6, 2019. There was a lot to celebrate. God has granted this small community on the south side Chicago Land to serve Him and His people for 110 years.
Another chapter. Another decade!
The parish has started a second decade of life in a second century of its ministry.
Not many parish communities have been blessed to live over a century.
The celebrations started with Saturday evening vespers. As the sun was setting down, brushing its still summery warm rays off of the cross on the church dome as well as the crowns of pine trees near by, the parishioners and guests one after another were coming up the steps of the forty-year old church temple of the hundred and ten year old parish community. Chicago Deanery clergy along with His Eminence Archbishop Daniel led the Great Vespers.
The flickering flame of beeswax candles, the sweet smell of incense, chanting of vesperal hymns was the spiritually uplifting aura of the evening service. The culmination of the vespers was the Holy Sacrament of Chismation administered by Archbishop Daniel to Jeanne Patricia Maack, who has been worshiping with us for over three years. Through Holy Sacrament of Christmation she was received into the Holy Orthodox Church. As His Eminence Archbishop Daniel addressed the congregation complete stillness took over the temple as everyone with anticipation was expecting something extraordinary. It did happened. His Eminence surprised everyone as He presented to the attendees of the vesperal service a chance to venerate the very relics of Sts. Peter and Paul, he brought over from Rome. Even greater surprise followed as His Eminence announced that He would like to gift the relics to the parish family. Hard to explain the emotion that overtook the members of the parish family as with tears of joy and humbleness they were approaching the Holy relics of their patron saints for veneration.
After Vespers, parish family and guests gathered at the Church hall for the memorial night. Enjoying snacks and drinks, attendees reminiscent about the good old days. A video was shown covering a century of Parish ministry prepared by parish photographer - Donna Nevels. Huge collection of photos depicting parish history, nearly Assam led by Mike Gbur, was available for viewing.
On the next day, Sunday, as the bright morning sun was lighting up the fiery golden and red crowns of already turning towards fall trees, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel accompanied by seminarians Yaroslav Bilohan and Myroslav Mykytyuk and a team of parish subdeacons with altar servers arrived at the Church temple.
His Eminence was greeted by a bunch of eager to see Him children. Of course group hug with Archbishop followed. Sandra Hladky - parish council president with Anatoly Bilyk - Parish council secretary greeted Archbishop Daniel with Bread (Korovai) and flowers. Parish priest, Fr. Vasyl Sendeha welcomed His Eminence and asked to lead us in the Divine Liturgy.
Before the Liturgy started two readers of our parish, Elias and his son Peter Gordan were elevated to the order of subdeacons by His Eminence. The number of subdeacons in our parish has grown again. We are blessed with nine subdeacons now. The Liturgy was extraordinary with altar filled with clergy and altar servers.
The choir’s joyful singing carried on the celebration under the leadership of Subdeacon George Cepynsky. The Gospel was read from Luke 5:1-11 about fishers of men. Then the time came for the Bishop’s word. Everyone was carefully listening as their spiritual shepherd preached about the reality of this world. His words were real, thought provoking. He spoke about how contemporary world is failing in all of the virtues. He encouraged us to preach the Gospel with our lives. Each and everyone of us is called to be the fisherman of human souls for Christ. His Eminence passed an actual fishing pole and bait around the church as he explained what are the actual tools for fishing for souls in our environment. The fishing pole does need to be used by each and every one of us if we want those people who surround us in our daily life to rejoice in the faith we rejoice. That fishing pole needs to be used to the best of our abilities if we want this community under the patronage of Sts. Peter and Paul to continue to grow and minister to the generations to come. With inspirational words of encouragement, His Grace Daniel was exhorting us to ponder upon the true values in life, the right choices we should make if we want others to come to Christ. He was exhorting us to make the right choices boldly. The virtues ought to be practiced with great diligence among each other if we want to bring others to Christ. Archbishop’s heartwarming words of encouragement, touched the souls of many.
As the Divine Liturgy continued, spiritually uplifted children once again adorned the Liturgy with their angelic voices singing the “Otche Nash,” the prayer of Our Father and Holy Eucharist Hymns. It is an overwhelming feeling of joy, to hear our youngest parishioners so eagerly and in such piety exclaim their prayers to Our God the Father. I can almost hear their voices still resounding inside the temple.
After the dismissal, His Eminence Daniel recognized the following parishioners of our parish: Mrs. Noreen Neswick, Mr. Michael Gbur, Subdeacon George Cepynsky, Mrs. Donna Nevels, Subdeacon James Nevels, Subdeacon Dennis Rehr, Subdeacon Jeremy Oryhon, Mr. Anatol Bilyk, Mr. Richard Ganske by presenting them with the 100th Anniversary medals of UOC of USA. Those medals of St Andrew the founder of Christ Church in Ukraine were presented to them for years of hard work by serving on different committees, volunteering their time and labor for the benefit of our parish.
With the conclusion of award ceremony, all of the present in the temple went outside to process around the Church. The procession would stop on the four sides of the Church and the Gospel was read by His Eminence. After each reading of the Gospel, the Archbishop blessed with Holy water the temple and the congregation. The procession ended with a group picture on the steps of the Church temple. We surely were making history for the next generations to see.
The joyous celebration continued in the church hall with an anniversary banquet. The church hall was beautifully decorated in white, blue and yellow colors. Slideshow prepared by Donna Nevels was shown depicting the latest ten years of church life. The honorary guests and priest from neighboring parishes took turns in expressing their greetings. Representative from Selfreliance Ukrainian Credit Union Mr. Roman Ytskovskyy, presented a generous gift on the occasion of 110th Anniversary.
Delicious dinner was catered by Tradicia Polish Fusion Cuisine. Cake in the shape of a hundred and ten was cut up and served to all of the attendants. It was truly a great day. We completed another chapter in the life of the parish. Our parish community has entered into a second decade of the second century of serving God and His people. Let’s continue to make history by worshiping, working and celebrating together.
Text by Very Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sendeha
Photos by Seminarian Yaroslav Bilohan