2014-07-11 • CELEBRATION
The celebration of the Transfer of the Relics of the Blessed Theodore and of the 25th Anniversary of the coming out of our church from the underground
Thousands of people from all over the eparchy gathered for the celebration. Everybody was willing to share the joy that touches all of us, especially those sons and daughters of the Catholic Church that during the underground times did not cease to remain faithful to our Church. In spite of persecution, our priests and faithful would pray in the private houses, and hide in the woods and caves. Many of them came under mocking, were imprisoned to Gulag and underwent the martyrdom. The letter to Hebrews says well about all those who undergo the persecution: “Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented - 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” (Heb 11:35b-38)
However, our Church experienced the Resurrection. In today’s celebration of the 25th anniversary not many of those who suffered the persecution left, however, all those who could come, were present on this outstanding event. The solemnity of the celebration was remarked specially by the participation of the special envoy of His Holiness Pope Francis for the celebration of the 25th anniversary, His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Tomko the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Apostolic Nuncio His Excellency Archbishop Thomas Edward Gullickson took part in the celebration.
All the participants proceeded to the altar positioned outside bringing the shrine with the relics before the Liturgy started. The special envoy was accompanied by two priest named by the Holy Father: Very Rev. Fr. Pavlo Sabov and Very Rev. Mitred Fr. Vasyl Khvasta, syncellus for the laity. Very Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Petro-Pavlo Beresh rector of the Seminary addressed the greeting to His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Tomko and the bishops.
The Apostolic Nuncio His Excellency Archbishop Thomas Edward Gullickson, Eparchial Bishop of Mukachevo His Excellency Milan, CM, His Excellency Bishop Nile, OFM, Bishop emeritus of Hajdúdorog (Hungary) His Excellency Szilárd (Keresztes), Ordinary Bishop of Mukachevo roman-catholic diocese His Excellency Bishop Antal Majnek, OFM, Bishop canonic of the Basicila Saint May Major His Excellency Bishop Irenej (Bilyk), OSBM, (Rome), Eparchial Bishop of Kolomyja-Chernivtsi His Excellency Basil (Ivasjuk), Eparchial Bishop of Maramorosh (Romania) His Excellency Basile (Bisau), Eparchial Bishop of Passaic (USA) His Excellency Kurt Burnette, Apostolic Exarch of Miskolc (Hungary) His Excellency Bishop Athanasius (Orosz), Auxiliary Bishop of Prešov (Slovakia) His Excellency Milan (Lach), SJ, Auxiliary Bishop of Stryy His Excellency Bohdan (Manyshyn), Very Rev. Abbote Ambrose of Jasiv (Slovakia), Protosyncellus of Košice Eparchy Very Rev. Mitred Fr. Vladimir Tomko concelebrated with His Eminence Cardinal Joseph the Divine Liturgy. Also more than 170 priest from Mukachevo and other Eparchies concelebrated the Liturgy
His Eminence Cardinal preached at the Liturgy. To everybody’s surprise he preached in Ukrainian.
Before and during the Liturgy many people came to the sacrament of penance in order to receive the Holy Communion with purified heart and soul. The Divine Liturgy was accompanied by the singing of the Seminary choir. Many of those who are in advanced years kept crying during the Liturgy because they could not realize the fact that they could pray and praise God without the fear of persecution.
At the end of the Liturgy His Eminence gave the special papal blessing as Holy Father Pope Francis entrusted him. His Excelleny Bishop Milan decorated him with the order of I grade of Saints Cyril and Methodius.
One of the most prominent features of the celebration was the presence of the shrine with the relics of the Blessed Theodore who was killed for the faith in Christ. Everybody would plead to him in the prayer and ask for his protection before the Heavenly Father. In conclusion a big procession took place around the Seminary with the relics of the Blessed Theodore accompanied by the four readings of the Gospel. His Excellency Milan expressed his gratitude to the Cardinal Joseph and to all the bishops and guests that had come to share the joy of our Eparchy on the occasion of this important event. Afterwards, the relics of the Blessed Theodore were placed in the Seminary chapel where everybody had the chance to approach to them and ask for the protection