Taking the next step on his journey toward the Holy Priesthood, Frank Lucero, a vocation of the Venerable Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Parish of the UOC of the USA and a seminarian of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Bound Brook, NJ), was ordained to the sacred Deaconate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA through the laying-on-of hands of the eparchial hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Church – His Eminence Archbishop Daniel.
The fifth Sunday of the Great and Holy Lent (April 14, 2019) gathered a large amount of parishioners of St. Job of Pochaiv parish (under the pastoral leadership of Fr. Theophan Mackey) for the Eucharistic celebration of the Divine Liturgy, which was served by His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Rev. Fr. Theophan Mackey, Deacon Michael Abrahamson of Holy Archangel Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Woonsocket, RI and Deacon Ted Brinegar of Alamogordo, NM.
The parish community choir prayerfully chanted the responses to the Divine Liturgy during which the clergy by their postures, vestments and Proclaimed Word, called upon everyone in attendance to solemn reflection upon their journey of life, sharing in the mission of Christ’s service.
In his sermon remarks, Vladyka Daniel briefly reflected on the life of Venerable Mary of Egypt, stating: “…On this Fifth Sunday of Great Lent, we commemorate Saint Mary of Egypt. In the ordinary course of events, one would expect this Mary to be long-forgotten, another nameless victim of the so-called 'spirit of the age.' Enslaved by all the worst the world has to offer, what was Mary's early life but a tragic downward spiral to destruction? In worldly terms, was there any hope? Little or none - but God, in His love and Wisdom, had other ideas. It's not too much to say that the Good Lord suddenly flung His mercy at Mary like lightning. And Mary's eyes were opened. She said 'no' to the world and 'yes' to God. Mary began to cooperate with grace - to cooperate with mercy - and God changed her life. Because of this, Saint Mary of Egypt is remembered to this day, standing resplendent as a sign of hope for us all; a bulwark against despair; a living example of the transformative grace of God. Her message is that of the Gospel: Reject sin. Never Despair. Cling to Christ… Saint Mary of Egypt, pray to God for us!”
Following the consecration of the Holy Gifts, the subdeacons of the parish community, led Subdeacon Frank Lucero for the presentation and ordination to Deaconate. With the prayerful exclamations of the Deacon “Command, most holy Master!” the soon to be ordained subdeacon lowered himself in prostration among the people of God and the mission family. Having venerated the sacred altar of the venerable Job of Pochaiv parish community, which was just consecrated a day before, subdeacon Frank became the very first clergy ordained at the newly-consecrated altar of the parish’s sacred temple.
A powerful AXIOS! AXIOS! AXIOS! Was exclaimed by the archbishop, clergy and the faithful of the parish community, as a symbol of worthiness to serve in Christ’s Holy Vineyard.
Speaking following the ordination and the conclusion of the Liturgy, Archbishop Daniel emphasized preaching the message of hope to the sick, oppressed, elderly and the youth in areas facing poverty, cultural and moral war.
“You are moving out to serve the people but emphasis should be on preaching the message of hope to a population of the world that faces many challenges, including moral poverty” Vladyka told the deacon.
His Eminence called upon the newly ordained Deacon Frank to rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit. “Rely always on this mighty gift,” he said, “calling upon the Grace of the Holy Spirit often in the course of each day.”
Vladyka continued: “In spite of our modern day quest for information, we sometimes fail to hear that news which the heart most desperately needs to hear. We, no less than other people, need to hear the Gospel proclaimed in all of its power and force. We need to be assured that God’s Good News is more enduring than the incessant news stories that capture headlines but rarely capture hearts.”
“We all want to hear stories about life as it should be and life as it is destined to become,” Archbishop Daniel said to the crowd of parishioners in attendance. “Every heart” desires to hear “good news that gives direction and hope to the human spirit,” he added.
“The Gospel connects deep into a person’s heart… Unlike the evening news, the Gospel does not simply reveal the day’s events, but the Gospel places those events in their proper perspective. The Gospel offers the whole human family a new way, a hopeful way of seeing our destiny.
All cultures in unique ways are looking to be reminded of the dignity of human life. While societies and cultures can vary greatly one from another, the human heart is certainly far more similar than unique in its need to find God’s rest,” said Archbishop Daniel.
Finally, Vladyka reminded the deacon and everyone in attendance of the importance of their personal witness. “Never forget that the word of God will not be proclaimed nor heard unless it is spoken by ministers who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, witness to the reality of this word in their own lives,” archbishop said.
As the Liturgy concluded, Deacon Frank offered his words of gratitude to everyone in attendance, especially his ordaining bishops, the pastor of the parish community – Fr. Theophan, parishioners of the community. A special tribute Deacon Frank paid to his wife Rita and his parents who were in attendance and witnessed the ordination.
The day of liturgical celebration concluded by a potluck luncheon prepared by the parishioners of the parish community in honor of the newly ordained deacon and their bishop.
Photos by Subdeacon Yurii Bobko