UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Ukrainian Orthodox League of the USA
69th Annual Convention
“Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger…”
The Ukrainian Orthodox League of the USA – both Junior and Senior Divisions – conducted its annual convention (69th for Seniors and 55th for the Juniors) under the theme shown above, quoting the Epistle of James 1:19. The next verse of the Epistle explains why we need to “be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger…” – “…for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (1:20) We all too often listen, but do not hear, and therefore, respond too quickly to what a brother or sister is saying to us, too frequently in anger seeking our own selfish righteousness. The wrath (anger) of man is unjust, ungracious and severe. It proceeds from uncontrolled anger, not from God’s judgment. For us to discern the righteousness of God requires patience, graciousness and controlled passion.”
The hosts for the convention, which took place on 27-31 July in Lancaster, PA, were the Junior and Senior UOL Chapters of Holy Ghost Parish, Coatesville, PA, along with their pastor, V. Rev. Anthony Ugolnik and the parish membership. UOL members from chapters all over the USA participated in the convention, which followed a new format with featured presentations and discussions as part of the daily plenary sessions.
The convention opened with traditional ceremonies on Wednesday evening, 27 July with the Junior and Senior Leagues gathered together. His Eminence Metropolitan Antony offered the prayer of Invocation seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit upon all the convention proceedings. Welcoming remarks were offered by Sr. President, Michael Komichak and Jr. President, Kateryna Kocelko. Also extending warm welcome were the Convention Co-Chairwoman Carol Bentley, who stated that the whole parish has been looking forward to the convention and the opportunity to renew friendships made at the previous convention hosted in the parish a decade earlier. The other Co-Chairwoman of the convention was Lauren Bentley, who was busy performing official duties of welcoming and registering additional arriving UOL members. Following the welcoming remarks, the Jr. UOL members moved over to their own meeting room and began their 55th annual convention program.
The Senior meeting continued with the formal business matters including the appointment of individual committees and the approval of the lengthy agenda. The Junior meeting also completed formal business matters including their previous convention minutes and then conducted an “ice breaker” session during which the delegates introduced themselves to each other, learning about personal interests and future plans. After the conclusion of the sessions, the delegates and guests joined together for evening prayers in the convention chapel. The evening concluded with a “Hospitality Night” sponsored by the hosting chapters.
Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Antony in the chapel on Thursday morning – 28 July – the Feast of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles, St. Volodymyr, Baptizer of the Ukrainian nation. The Metropolitan was assisted by V. Rev. John Haluszczak, Spiritual Advisor of the Sr. UOL. The entire convention body beautifully sang the responses during the Liturgy and participated in the Holy Eucharist. The Metropolitan spoke of the conversion of St. Ol’ha, grandmother of St. Volodymyr, also known as Equal-to-the-Apostles and Baptizer of Ukraine. He related the history of her conversion in Constantinople and baptism, by the Patriarch of Constantinople himself in 945 or 957 (history is not certain) – decades prior to the official Baptism of Ukraine in 988 – and her efforts to convert the Ukrainian nation over the remaining 14 years of her life. Following the repose of her husband Prince Ihor in 945 she ruled Ukraine as Regent for her three year old son until he came of age. She was unable to convert her son Sviatoslav, but St. Volodymyr, her grandson and student recognized the importance of the Faith to his nation. His decision to Baptize Ukraine finally came 19 years after her repose in 969. Volodymyr had regained control over Kyivan-Rus lands and saw how the Church could serve as a unifying force for the nation.
During the convention session following lunch this day, Metropolitan Antony addressed the body speaking about the convention theme concentrating on the righteousness of God and the fact that human “righteousness” can in no possible way begin to reflect the true righteousness of God. He urged the delegates to turn away from the gadgets that seem to be controlling their lives and give up being an “angry bird” type of society seeking to kill off the pigs we don’t like in the world and to instead, truly take the time to know each person who touches their lives – to hear what they say, realizing that our first perception of someone else is very often a mistaken perception, which can lead us to a path of confrontation rather than to God’s righteousness.
The early afternoon sessions of the Senior convention saw a presentation – “Stages of Life” – by V. Rev. Father Anthony Perkins and Dr. Natalie Bilynsky, a Psychologist by profession. Natalia outlined the physical, emotional and mental stages of life development from infancy through advanced age of human life. Following each stage, Fr. Anthony presented the spiritual and religious development associated with each of these stages of life. The delegates were profoundly attentive to this presentation – “hearing” each word spoken – resulting in a very lively question and answer session that followed the presentation.
Following this presentation, the convention body continued its normal conduct of business including the annual reports of Executive Board, Committee/Commissions, individual chapters, finances and budget. A special moment came when the funds collected – $6,045 – during the Sr./Jr. UOL annual “Souper Bowl Sunday” program were presented to Protodeacon Dr. Ihor Mahlay, President of the St. Andrew Society of our Church. Individuals and chapters contributed another $704 to the program during the convention. These funds are utilized by the Society to feed and clothe the poor and elderly in Ukraine’s major cities.
The Jr. UOL sessions also continued following brunch with various convention committee meetings to lay out plans for the upcoming year. Metropolitan Antony also addressed the body on the theme of the convention and related how it seems to be so difficult for today’s teens to communicate directly with one another – eye to eye. It appears to be much easier to just “text” anything one has to say – not having the opportunity to “hear” the tone of the other person’s voice and thus, not really easily understanding one another. He urged the youth to put their mobile phones aside and get back to personal relationships as a means of coming together for church services and activities. His Eminence stated that he knows each of his listeners has much to offer and he wants the Holy Church to benefit from that.