Youngstown, Ohio - Many faithful, clergy, and religious from the States of Ohio and Pennsylvania of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma and beyond took part on September 16, 2017 – Saturday after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, according to the Gregorian calendar – in the pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Cross of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, Ohio.
The pilgrimage, led by Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo, Eparch of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma and organized by Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, Ohio under the leadership of the church’s pastor, Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, provided an opportunity for the pilgrims to experience diakonia through the Eucharistic Celebration, Holy Mystery of Reconciliation, prayer and fellowship in the spirit of the Ukrainian Catholic faith. The theme of this year’s pilgrimage was “The Cross of Christ as the Sign of the Lord’s Service to Humanity,” dedicated to the current Year of Diakonia in the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
The pilgrimage began with a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy presided over by Bishop Bohdan Danylo and concelebrated by Chorbishop Anthony Spinosa, Director of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon of the Maronite Catholic Church in North Jackson, OH; Very Rev. Canon Steven Paliwoda, Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer of St. Josaphat Eparchy and Pastor of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Lorain, OH; Very Rev. Canon Andriy Hanovskyi, Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Cleveland, OH; Fr. Bohdan Barytskyi, rector of St. Josaphat Cathedral in Parma, OH; Fr. David Misbrener, Pastor of St. Peter of the Fields Roman Catholic Church in Rootstown, OH; Fr. Andrew Marko, former pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH; Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH and St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, OH; Deacon Donald Billy from Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH as well as religious and lay people.
During his homily, Bishop Bohdan said: “It is the beginning of the Church Year and Church is giving us a sign of cross. In all of our churches on that feast day, we, in a solemn procession, take beautifully decorated cross and carry it from the sanctuary of the church through the main gates of iconostas to be placed in the middle of the church – placed in the middle of the church to be venerated, placed in the middle of the church, so we can sing this beautiful hymn: ‘To Your Cross, O Master, we bow in veneration, and we glorify Your holy resurrection.’” The hierarch also noted that “standing at the cross for us, Christians, is not just standing at the sight of crucifixion or the instrument of death, because for us, as we venerate the cross, we proclaim His [Christ’s] glorious resurrection. And perhaps each of us from different places as we gather today, it’s a time to say a prayer for our families, it’s a time to say a prayer to the Cross of Christ for our parish communities, it’s a time to say a prayer for the entire eparchy and our entire Church.” “We need to gather for prayer more often,” stressed Bishop Bohdan. The hierarch, referring to St. John of Damascus, said that we, as a community of believers, need to ask ourselves a similar question that St. John at one time asked his fellow Christians: “When you come and kiss the Cross of Christ, when you come and stay in the shadow of the cross, what is the reason you are coming? Is it just because the rest of the community is coming and performing that ritual? Is it coming and being with the Savior Himself? Are you standing in the shadow of the cross, because you believe that that cross is a sign of salvation?” At the conclusion of his homily, Bishop Bohdan said: “In the beginning of this Church Year, [the cross of Christ] is saying to us: be not afraid! Come and receive power and energy of this cross! Come and be encouraged to walk through your life that whatever crosses and suffering, trials and tribulations are to happen in our lives, we know that the cross of Christ already gave us salvation, that the cross of Christ gave us resurrection, that the cross of Christ opened for us the Gates of Heaven.”
After the Liturgy, the pilgrims had an opportunity to share a delicious meal and fellowship with Bishop Bohdan, clergy and other fellow pilgrims in the parish’s social hall.
Following the lunch, the pilgrims took part in the Akathistos in Honor of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross of our Lord, celebrated at the shrine and presided over by Bishop Bohdan together with the concelebrating clergy, that concluded the pilgrimage.
During the pilgrimage, Bishop Bohdan likewise thanked all the pilgrims for coming on this spiritual journey. In particular, the hierarch thanked Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak and all of his parishioners for organizing the pilgrimage and for welcoming all the pilgrims to the parish’s shrine with open hearts and arms, wishing everyone to have a safe journey home. In turn, Fr. Lubomyr expressed his gratitude to Bishop Bohdan for leading this year’s pilgrimage as well as thanked all the pilgrims for participating in the spiritual event.
The pilgrimage was also an opportunity for the participants to partake in the Holy Mystery of Confession as well as to visit and pray in the parish church, located next to the shrine.
Sharing his thoughts on the pilgrimage, Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak said: “We were very happy, as always, to welcome in our midst today our shepherd, Bishop Bohdan Danylo as well as the clergy, religious and lay people. A pilgrimage is a great opportunity for people to come together to praise the Lord, to adore Him, to thank Him for the overabundant graces that He bestows upon us each and every day and of course to ask Him to continue to bless us.” “This year, in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, we are celebrating the Year of Diakonia. And so, I do hope that today the pilgrims were inspired as well as were able to strengthen their resolve to serve faithfully the Lord through the service to their neighbors,” stated the pastor, concluding: “May their zeal never get extinguished!”
Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, Ohio (USA) was founded in 1911. In 1986, on the occasion of the 75th parish anniversary and the millennial anniversary of the Baptism of Rus-Ukraine, the Shrine of the Holy Cross was erected through the sacrificial efforts of parishioners and their long-time pastor, Very Rev. Mitred Archpriest Leo Adamiak, who died in March 2010. Since January 2013 the parish and the shrine have been entrusted to the spiritual care of Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak.
Department of Information of the UGCC