Silver Spring, MD – His Eminence Metropolitan Antony was enthroned on January 26, 2013, as the fourth Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA during a magnificent and traditional ceremony at St. Andrew the First Called Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Silver Spring, MD. The Enthronement services were attended by more than 500 faithful and about 70 clergymen of the Metropolia and many visitors from across the country from various Orthodox and Catholic jurisdictions.
The Enthronement liturgical services began at 6:30 pm on Friday, January 25, 2013 with All-Night Vigil served by Rev. Fr. Anthony Perkins and choir of Holy Archangel Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Woonsocket, RI. With about 200 people in attendance, following a winter storm that brought about 4 inches of snow to Washington, DC Metropolitan area, the hierarchs, clergy and faithful in attendance prayerfully inaugurated the events of Enthronement weekend, preparing themselves and pledging their love and support of the Church for their new spiritual father.
On Saturday morning, the procession of hierarchs took place from the parish residence to the cathedral. In attendance, representing the Orthodox faithful of the North America were His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios – Exharch of the Ecumenical Patriarch and Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Metropolitan Yuriy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada; His Grace Bishop Daniel – President of Consistory and Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA; His Grace Bishop Andriy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada; His Grace Bishop Pankratiy of Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico; His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese; His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel of Romanian Episcopate of the Orthodox Church in America; His Grace Bishop Melchizidek, His Grace Bishop Michael, His Grace Bishop Irenee of the Orthodox Church in America. Bishops from the Roman Catholic, Byzantine Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic churches also were in attendance (Most Rev. Metropolitan Stefan Soroka of Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia; Most Rev. Bishop Paul Chomnycky of Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of Stamford, CT; Most Rev. Bishop Basil Losten – bishop-emeritus of Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of Stamford, CT; Rev. Monsignor Jean-Francois Lantheaume – assistant to the Papal Nuncio; Rev. Avelino Gonzales – Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, DC).
Metropolitan Yuriy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada delivered a sermon in both Ukrainian and English languages reflecting upon the sacred vocation of a bishop in the life of the Church and stressing the importance of spiritual fatherhood in the life of parish communities under the spiritual care of Metropolitan Antony.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, responses to which were chanted by St. Andrew’s choir under the leadership of Hryhoriy Olijnyk, Metropolitan-elect Antony was led to the Ambo of the cathedral and the results of the Extraordinary Sobor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA were pronounced by the President of the Consistory of the UOC of the USA – His Grace Bishop Daniel, who prayerfully exclaimed AXIOS, to which the congregation in unison responded AXIOS. Metropolitan Yuriy and Bishop Daniel formally vested the new Metropolitan in his blue Mantia of the Metropolitan and a white klobuk, a symbol of purity, was presented to the Metropolitan by Bishop Daniel. Finally, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios handed Metropolitan Antony the pastoral staff, signifying his pastoral and disciplinary responsibilities. In conclusion, the Archbishop presented Metropolitan Antony with a letter from His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.
The newly appointed Metropolitan expressed his will and hopes to carry on the remarkable work of his predecessors, especially Metropolitan Constantine of blessed memory, as well as preserving and continuing transmitting the Ukrainian Orthodox traditions and cultural heritage.
“Your Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, Your Eminence Metropolitan Yurij, Your Grace Bishop Daniel, all my brother hierarchs here sharing in this momentous moment in the life of our Holy Church, my dear brother clergy – priests, deacons, subdeacons, our pani-dobrodiyky, seminarians and all of you, the loving faithful who have come to participate – not just witness – but to participate in this historical day in the life of the Church – not my own life – but the life of the Church.
I thank you for that participation and your proclamation of “Axios”, which translated is “Worthy”. As I was at the moment of my ordination into all the ranks of clergy – the deaconate, the priesthood and the episcopacy – at hearing this proclamation, today I am humbled. Humbled to not just intellectually absorb…but to feel the trust and the hope embodied in that proclamation and I pray to God Almighty that I may – however insignificantly – live up to that trust and that hope. Axios – it is a term filled with meaning (as I once heard or read and I apologize for not remembering where or when). Axios – it is both an affirmation by the clergy and the faithful gathered together at any ordination, but more importantly it is a goal to be achieved! “Worthiness” is not something automatically “given” by those proclaiming it at any given moment, it is a process – a lifelong struggle that is only fully realized in the Kingdom of God. It is a goal and a directive from God. I ask that you be of assistance to me in remembering this – that the “Axios” you proclaimed today is a goal and a directive from God – expressed through you and inspired, hopefully, by the Holy Spirit. I extend my most sincere and heartfelt gratitude to all of you here gathered for the natural completion of our Church’s ancient process of episcopal election – the enthronement of a new Prime Hierarch – Metropolitan.
Since the day of my election during our Special Sobor on 6 October at our Metropolia Center in New Jersey and the official announcement on 31 October at the Patriarchal Seminary in Halki by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in behalf of the Holy Synod of Constantinople of my election, most of you have already expressed you’re your warm personal greetings and more importantly, have not forgotten me in your prayers as I prepared for this day. I have felt the consequences of those prayers in the form of a peace and comfort – in more than a common way – as the initial trepidation and horror of the prospects of entering into this office have melted away into the certain knowledge that you possess such a desire to walk this path at my side.
I would ask that your powerful prayers continue for the salvation of my soul because I need them more than you can possibly imagine. As I said at my election: in my human weakness, I have often been self-assured that I am offering myself as a gift to God in all that I attempt to do as His priest or His Bishop, while in reality, it is GOD, Who gifts Himself to me……and so frequently…..and without hesitation or limitation. When I, a simple human being offer myself to God, there always seem to be limits or contingencies to the offer – but He offers Himself without such. I feel myself at this moment encompassed in His Grace – and I cannot begin to express to you the joy of that feeling. I pray that your joy is as all-encompassing as is mine and that it will abound throughout all the years that I have left to serve Him and you. May we together work in His Name and for His Glory so that, in the words of His All-Holiness, we may experience “growth and strength, from grace to grace”.
A reception for all the faithful and later a banquet, hosted by the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and led by the Master of Ceremonies for the day – Very Rev. Bazyl Zawierucha, followed in the great hall of the cathedral’s community center. Hierarchs of Orthodox and Catholic Churches, Archons of the Ecumenical Throne, Ukrainian diplomats (Ambassador of Ukraine to the USA – His Excellency Oleksander Motsyk), representatives of the Church’s main organizations: Sr. and Jr. Ukrainian Orthodox League, United Ukrainian Orthodox Sisterhoods, St. Andrew Society, and leaders of Ukrainian Diaspora community, among them representatives of Ukrainian National Credit Union, the pastor of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Silver Spring, MD Very Rev. Volodymyr Steliak and the parish board of adminsitration of the cathedral congregation greeted Metropolitan Antony and presented him with numerous ecclesiastical gifts.
In conclusion of the banquet, His Grace Bishop Daniel reflected upon the faith journey of Metropolitan Antony and the personal impact that His Eminence had on the formation of priestly life of Bishop Daniel, presenting to those in attendance the newly installed Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA – His Eminence Metropolitan Antony.
“In accepting the leadership of this Metropolia, I accept the yoke of servant-hood… By the grace of God, new opportunities lie ahead for the Metropolia and the entire Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and in Diaspora — new opportunities to encounter our neighbors, new opportunities to evangelize, new opportunities to draw the world into the Apostolic net of salvation. May God grant us the same ambition that burned within Saint Paul, to preach the Gospel where Christ was not previously known.”
On Sunday, January 27, 2013, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, assisted by His Grace Bishop Daniel and the Clergy of Metropolia, presided over the Divine Liturgy, for the first time as Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.