Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma (USA) Held an Annual Pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Cross

Tuesday, 24 September 2019, 12:13
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 21, 2019 – 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 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 enrich their faith 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 “Christ on the Cross as the Witness to the Communion Between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

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. Michael Polosky, Protosyncellus of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma and Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ambridge, PA and Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Aliquippa, PA; Msgr. Robert J. Siffrin, Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown and Pastor of St. Edward Roman Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH; Fr. Joseph Rudjak, Pastor of the Holy Apostles Roman Catholic Parish in Youngstown, OH; Fr. David Misbrener, Pastor of St. Peter of the Fields Roman Catholic Church in Rootstown, OH; Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH and St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, OH and Deacon Donald Billy in addition to many lay and religious, who participated in the pilgrimage (Fr. Ivan Chirovsky, a priest of St. Josaphat Eparchy, was present at the Liturgy, together with some candidates to the diaconate, but did not concelebrate it). Confessions were heard by Fr. Vsevolod Shevchuk, pastor of the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church in Akron, OH and the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Solon, OH. The responses were provided by a joint choir of Holy Trinity Church in Youngstown and Saint Anne Church in Austintown under the leadership of Mrs. Marie Woloszyn, the choir director from Holy Trinity Church.

During his homily (edited), Bishop Bohdan said that at the beginning of the New Church Year, which starts on September 1st (according to the Gregorian calendar), “we place the cross in the midst of our churches.” And it is not a coincidence that the Church places the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross at the beginning of its new year, reminding us about “the most important element of our salvation – Cross of Christ.” “That Сross of Christ is a salvation for each and every one of us, but the Cross of Christ is also a sign of salvation for those, who follow Christ as a community,” stated the bishop. The hierarch continued: “That Cross of Christ and believing in his personal salvation took the Ukrainian Nation to go to another cross in Constantinople and, seeing the beauty of the Byzantine tradition, to bring that expression in religious life to the lands of Ukraine. That Сross of Christ and believing that through cross there is a salvation, that those, who follow Christ, are one day united in resurrection with Him, allowed through all the centuries of Christianity in Ukraine to grow and prosper. There is probably not a village, a town or a city [in Ukraine] that you would travel and not see the cross above.” Bishop Bohdan also stated that the “deep belief in salvation and the cross of Christ allowed throughout the centuries our [Ukrainian] people to faithfully follow [Christ], faithfully profess [Him] as unity, as Nation, as the Church community – be it a community of village, community of a given city, community of eparchy and then the Church itself.” Moreover, according to St. Josaphat’s Eparch, this firm witness and fidelity to Christ as members of the Catholic Church were particularly tested during all the persecutions that the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s faithful: clergy, religious and lay people endured in the XX century that bore much spiritual fruit. Bishop Bohdan gave an example of the known Head of the UGCC Patriarch Josyf Slipyj, who spent many years in the Soviet gulags in Russia, and yet, despite his tremendous sufferings that he underwent there, he did not complain, but, as it is recorded in one of his letters, he was thanking the Lord that he was there. Bishop Bohdan went on by recalling the Ukrainian immigrants, who came to America, having settled in the country, and while they did not bring a lot of riches with them from the Old World, they brought one treasure with them to the New World – faith in Christ that was passed onto the following generations that is manifested by so many Ukrainian Catholic communities established in the United States. The hierarch alluded that the contemporary society does not really want to hear about the cross. However, referring to the First Letter of Holy Apostle Paul to the Corinthians (1:18-24) that was read during today’s Divine Liturgy, Bishop Bohdan stated that the “Cross of Christ is foolishness for the world, but God chose the weak to show His strength. He has chosen the poor of this world to show the riches of His salvation.” The bishop concluded his homily by saying that it is “only our personal faith in Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection and especially our unity as communities will allow us to carry that message” – the salvific message of the Good News of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

At the end of the Liturgy, Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak expressed his gratitude to Bishop Bohdan for leading this year’s pilgrimage as well as thanked the clergy and all other pilgrims for participating in the spiritual event.

After the Liturgy, the pilgrims had an opportunity to share lunch and fellowship with Bishop Bohdan, clergy and other fellow pilgrims in the parish’s social hall. The pilgrims likewise had a chance to visit and pray in the parish church, located next to the shrine.

Following lunch, some pilgrims took part in the Akathistos in Honor of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross of our Lord, presided over by Bishop Bohdan and concelebrated by Fr. Lubomyr, who delivered a homily at the end of the service, and Deacon Donald Billy – the service that concluded the pilgrimage (Fr. Andrew Marko, a retired priest, who served for many years at St. Josaphat Eparchy, was present both at the Liturgy and the Akathistos, but did not concelebrate them due to an advanced age).

Sharing his thoughts on the pilgrimage, Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak stated: “Today’s pilgrimage is our 4th pilgrimage since we established this beautiful tradition back in 2016 of holding a pilgrimage to our Shrine of the Holy Cross on Saturday after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. During this year’s pilgrimage we were reflecting on the communion of the crucified Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This particular theme goes in line with this year’s topic of the Synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops that recently took place in Rome, namely “Communion and Unity in the Life and Ministry of the UGCC.” Christ’s atoning death on the cross – just like His life on earth – was the death in perfect communion with His Heavenly Father and the Life-Giving Spirit as the completion of the mission that Christ came down to accomplish that was followed by His glorious third-day Resurrection, Ascension into Heaven and the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. There was never a moment in the life of Christ, when He was not in full communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and hence, the whole reality of the Church, as the Mystical Body of Christ, is fully Trinitarian.” “Consequently,” continued pastor, “we, as members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church – disregarding of where each of us lives: Europe, North America, South America, Australia, etc. – are in communion with each other – the communion that is not limited to the national boundaries, but the unity that is deeply rooted in the communion with our Mother Church in Ukraine, the Successor of the Holy Apostle Peter, the Bishop of Rome, yet first and foremost in the communion with the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the life-giving Source and Foundation of the Church.” “This communion is precisely what constitutes the universality of God’s Church as the mystical Body of Christ,” concluded the pastor.


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 (1987), 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 fell asleep in the Lord 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


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