SOUTH BOUND BROOK, N.J. – Metropolitan Epifaniy, primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), was formally welcomed by the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. (UOC-U.S.A.) at the spiritual center of the Church in South Bound Brook/Somerset, N.J., on Monday, October 21.
Welcoming Metropolitan Epifaniy on the front steps of the historic St. Andrew the-First-Called Apostle Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church, Metropolitan Antony pointed out that the church is the first monument to the victims of the genocidal Holodomor of 1932-1933.
Upon entering the church and blessing the clergy and faithful in attendance, both metropolitans exchanged statements of spiritual joy for the opportunity that the Lord presented to the worldwide Ukrainian Orthodox community to re-establish a sacred bond through the Mother Church of Constantinople.
Metropolitan Antony noted that countless hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, Western Europe and throughout the diaspora who for the past 100 years of their existence in the Western World, offered unceasing prayers of intercession for the spiritual freedom of the Orthodox Church – the people of Ukraine. The sacred bond between the Mother Church of Constantinople and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora served its spiritual purpose towards the unification process and canonical and sacred recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Holy and Sacred Patriarchate of Constantinople, and most recently by the Church of Greece and soon by other autocephalous Orthodox Churches throughout the world.
Since the reception of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. into the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1995, Metropolitan Antony said, one of the primary goals of the hierarchs of the Church was the granting of autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine. The Church in the diaspora remained as a living torch of presence in the Orthodox world, constantly reminding everyone of the historic right to autocephaly of the people and the Church of Ukraine.
Responding to the words of Metropolitan Antony, Metropolitan Epifaniy expressed strong sentiments of spiritual joy and for the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians in the diaspora as they now enjoy the most sacred union through the motherly care of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The OCU primate thanked both hierarchs of the UOC of the U.S.A. for their service in the process of the formal canonical synodal granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Moreover, Metropolitan Epifaniy turned his attention to Archbishop Daniel, the former exarch of the Ecumenical Throne to Ukraine, and offered gratitude for the work that was accomplished by Archbishop Daniel, while serving in Ukraine and representing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Assisted by Archbishop Yevstratiy of Chernihiv, Metropolitan Epifaniy presented the UOC-U.S.A. with gifts of commemorative silver coins, honoring the historic granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly. In addition, an embroidered icon of the Protection of the Birth-Giver of God was presented to the UOC of the U.S.A., commemorating the decision of the Council of Bishops of the UOC of the U.S.A. to place the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the United States and Ukraine under the sacred protection of the Birth-Giver of God.
Following the visit to St. Andrew Memorial Church, the delegation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was treated to a walking tour of the entire 53 acres of the Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., including St. Andrew Cemetery, St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary, the Ukrainian Cultural Center and Archives, the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. and the Ukrainian History and Education Center.
The first stop on the tour was made in the crypt of the Holy Resurrection Mausoleum of St. Andrew Memorial Church, where the remains of the first spiritual leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Patriarch and Metropolitan Mstyslav Skrypnyk – rest. In honoring the memory of the spiritual leader of the Church in the diaspora and later in Ukraine, Metropolitan Epifaniy honored the memory and service of countless hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Church in the diaspora and Ukraine who throughout centuries prayed for the day of spiritual freedom.