The Head of the UGCC took Part in the Celebration of the Centennial Jubilee of the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Akron, Ohio (USA)

Monday, 22 June 2015, 11:46
On Sunday, June 21, 2015, the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk took part in the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church in Akron, Ohio, whose pastor since 2013 has been Fr. Vsevolod Shevchuk, His Beatitude’s brother. The celebrations began with the Pontifical Divine Liturgy presided over by the Head of the UGCC. In the solemn Liturgy also participated a few hierarchs, including Bishop Bohdan Danylo, Eparch of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, Bishop Robert Moskal, Eparch-Emeritus of the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, Bishop John Kudrick, Eparch of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, Bishop John Botean, Eparch of the Romanian Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of St. George in Canton, the priests, deacons, consecrated persons and the laity of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Byzantine Catholic Church, the Maronite Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

In his homily [an Internet link to the full text of the homily], His Beatitude Sviatoslav said: “Celebrating the centennial anniversary of this parish, we really celebrate one hundred years of the community of faithful people; a community, which for one hundred years has been the salt of the earth and light of the world.” He continued: “A hundred years ago, the world was immersed in the World War I. Most likely, the first Ukrainian immigrants were not able to bring many earthly treasures to Akron.  However, they were able to bring in their hearts the most important treasure of their ancestors – their faith in God. That faith which through the action of the Holy Spirit gave birth to so many saints: martyrs, confessors and witnesses of Christ’s faith in our Church and in our nation, whose memory today we celebrate this Sunday.” Therefore, “This teaching of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God’s Love, in whose honor they dedicated this church, helped the entire generations of their offspring to first of all remain human, people who are able to love, to be responsible, able to form a community of faith and to retain their identity. For the newly arrived, or displaced persons as they were called, our parishes were centers of Christian solidarity, mutual help and, and the communities where love of God and neighbor were of primary importance. This faith in God helped them to rediscover their own identity in the new country. The light of Christ’s Gospel and this “salt” helped them find a new meaning in their lives in this land – the new homeland and to achieve success in their lives,” said Patriarch Sviatoslav, adding “Let us all remember today in prayer all, who served God and people in this parish.” Since the third Sunday of June is traditionally the day, when in the United States is celebrated Father’s Day, His Beatitude also wished all fathers a blessed Father’s Day, quoting the words of St. John Chrysostom, who taught that “one becomes a father not by the fact of conceiving a new life, but by the paternal care and Christian education of those he has begotten.” The Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church concluded the homily with the following words: “May everyone, who comes to this vibrant parish, to this community of authentic human relationships, personally encounter the Living and Risen Christ and feel blessed in His love. Therefore, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16).”

Before the end of the Liturgy, the floor was given to Bishop Robert Moskal, hence, he addressed the gathered faithful with a word, in which he recalled some moments from the history of the parish. After the Eucharistic celebration, a traditional Ukrainian “Many and Happy Years” was sung to the Holy Father, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Bishop Bohdan and the rest of the present Bishops as well as for all the hierarchs and the faithful of the Catholic Church, especially for the people gathered in the church. Afterwards, Bishop Bohdan addressed everyone with his word, in which the hierarch, among other things, stated that perhaps it was not a coincidence that it was namely on Father’s Day that the Father and the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church visited the Holy Ghost Parish today. At the conclusion, His Beatitude thanked and congratulated the pastor of the parish, Father Vsevolod Shevchuk, on the centennial anniversary of the parish and wished his entire parish community the choicest blessings of the Holy Spirit as they continue their journey of faith on the Lord’s life-giving path. Father Vsevolod thanked His Beatitude for having visited his parish community and wished the Patriarch God’s blessings in his service as the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The liturgical celebration was concluded with a song-prayer “Great and only God, Protect Ukraine For Us,” followed by a group photo, taken in front of the church.

The celebrations continued with a festive banquet, accompanied by a traditional Ukrainian music, in a nearby banquet hall that was attended by ca. 200 people. During the banquet, which was commenced with a prayer and blessing by His Beatitude Sviatoslav, a tribute was made to the founders, the priests and the faithful of the Holy Ghost parish through a slide-show and presentations by some of the parish’s representatives. Father Vsevolod Shevchuk likewise addressed all present with his word. The celebration concluded with a benediction by Bishop Bohdan.

Department of Information of the UGCC

Note:

The first Ukrainian immigrants began to arrive in Akron, Ohio (USA) circa 1900. Over 500 Ukrainians came to the area between 1912 and 1914, and more than 2000 between 1916 and 1918. As they settled and raised families, they recognized a need for an organized social and religious life.  

In October 1915, a meeting was called that resulted in a consultation with the Rev. Leo Chapelskyj of Cleveland regarding the organization of a parish in Akron. On November 14, 1915, a decision to purchase lots on Washington and Abel Streets was made and by January 2, 1916, it had been agreed to build the church. Despite the financial problems generated by World War I, the depression that followed and the frequent turnover in pastors, which interfered with the growth of the parish, the parish was able to burn its mortgage on September 23, 1945, its thirtieth anniversary.

At this time, the parish became strengthened by an influx of new immigrants from Europe. The increase in the size of the parish prompted a decision to build a new church. The New Church Building Committee secured funds for the project and purchased in 1946 eight lots on Brown Street for the purpose of constructing a new church.  In March 1952, the thirty-three year pastorate of Rev. Taras Durbak began. With his arrival, the Sisterhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary was reorganized and renamed the Blessed Virgin Mary Ladies Society; membership in the Apostleship of Prayer was increased; the Junior Sodality for Girls and the Altar Boys Society were organized and a school for religious education was started.  

In 1957 a renewed effort began to raise funds for the new church.  The dream of a new church became a reality when on Sunday, May 14, 1961 the blessing of the grounds and breaking ceremonies for the new church took place.  The construction of the church was completed December 31, 1961, although the first service in the new church took place on Christmas 1961 and regular services started on March 11, 1962.  Dedication of the new church took place on September 3, 1962, with the Most Rev. Archbishop Metropolitan Ambrose Senyshyn, OSBM, many clergy and faithful participating. 

In 1971, an English Divine Liturgy was added to the Ukrainian one with church functions being bilingual. On September 8, 1985, the Very Reverend Canon Archpriest Taras Durbak retired and Rev. Wolodymyr Woloszczuk, the first in the parish to become a priest and who had been ordained by His Beatitude Patriarch and Cardinal Josyf Slipyj on November 15, 1981, in Rome, started his pastorate at the Holy Ghost Parish.

Parishioners have been generous with their time, talents and treasures. A baptismal font, chandelier, embroidered hangings of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, the eternal lamp, a seven-branch candle holder, a set of vestments for the pastor, embroidered altar linens and Gospels have been donated by parishioners.

Donations have been made to Catholic Social Services and for victims of various natural disasters both nationally and internationally and for the less fortunate locally. Among other things, parishioners bought and sent medical supplies for soldiers in Ukraine. Talented parishioners have donated their time and energy in decorating the social hall in keeping with the seasons of the year and the Church in keeping with the liturgical calendar.

The Parish of the Holy Ghost took to heart the words of Patriarch Sviatoslav: “That is the proper role of our diaspora: not to live for Ukraine, but to live: to be a strong and lively link between the country that is your home and the country of your ancestry, whether that ancestry is ethnic or spiritual, because, as I have emphasized, there are many non-Ukrainians who are members of the Church of Kyiv and that spiritual ancestry is even more important than ethnic ancestry. For us, the ancestry of Baptism is deeper than the ancestry of blood” (Speech of His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk at the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute in Toronto (Canada), May 2, 2014). Therefore, currently all the services in the parish are held in English.

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