Bishop Richard Stephen of the St. Nicholas Eparchy      Patriarch Sviatoslav of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church      Bishop Kevin Vann of the Fort Worth Diocese      Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Dallas Diocese      Benedict XVI, Pope of Rome
April 20th, 2017

Welcome Bp. Venedykt!

Venedykt AleksiychukHis Excellency Msgr. Venedykt (Valery) Aleksiychuk, M.S.U. has been appointed as the Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Nicholas of Chicago for Ukrainians.

Active in children’s and youth ministry, monastic spirituality and reform, liturgy, psychology and spirituality, His Excellency has a breadth of experience spanning parochial, consultative, administrative, and monastic leadership. He is sure to be a blessing to our eparchy and to our nation.

У четвер, 20 квітня 2017 року, у Ватикані повідомлено про те, що Папа Франциск поблагословив рішення Синоду Єпископів УГКЦ про призначення дотеперішнього Єпископа-помічника Львівської архиєпархії владику Венедикта (Алексійчука) Правлячим єпископом єпархії Святого Миколая УГКЦ з осідком у Чикаґо, США, перенісши його з титулярного осідку Германіціяни.

Born on 16 January 1968 in the village of Borshchivka in the region of Rivne, Ukraine, the bishop began his post-secondary studies at the Rivne Medical College, completing his degree in 1987 as a Physician’s Assistant. After graduation, he worked as an Emergency Medical Technician at the ambulance station in Kostopil. From 1987 to 1989, he served in the military. Afterwards, he worked as a Physician’s Assistant, initially at a city clinic and later at a sanatorium in the city of Truskavets.

After attending the major seminary of Drohobych from 1990-1993, he was ordained a deacon by His Beatitude Phylymon (Kurchaba) on October 9, 1991 and a priest by His Beatitude Myroslav-Ivan (Lyubachivskyi) on 29 March 1992. A year later, on 13 May 1993, he joined the Univ Holy Dormition Lavra of the Studite Order–the only lavra (monastic hermitage) of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. He accepted tonsure on 13 October 1993 and received the little schema on 31 December 1995.

In 1996, he completed a Masters of Theology degree at Lublin Catholic University with a thesis on the topic of “Christian spirituality according to St. John of Kronstadt.” Later that year, he was transferred to St. Catharine’s in Canada with the aim of founding a monastery there. At the time, he also served at the parishes of Grimsby and Beamsville for the Toronto Eparchy of the UGCC. He returned to Ukraine in April 1999 after being elected hegumen of the Univ Holy Dormition Lavra. In May 2000, he was re-elected hegumen and he was then elected for a third term in May 2005.

He went on to continue his theological studies at Lublin Catholic University with a licentiate degree in 2006 and a 2008 Doctorate of Philosophy with a thesis on “The Superior as a Spiritual Father: Investigation in the light of the works of Saint Theodore the Studite.”

Picking up the thread of his work as a Physician’s Assistant, he focused his studies on psychology from 2008-2012, completing a course of Practical Psychology at the European School of Correspondential Education (Kharkiv), Propaedeutics of Mental Disorders with the Ukrainian Community of Psychiatrists, and Pedagogy and Psychology at the Ignatianum Academy in Krakow, Poland.

All this was accomplished while he:

  • was an assistant priest at Holy Trinity Church in Drohobych,
  • was responsible for children’s ministry within the Drohobych deanery,
  • worked for the Patriarchal Catechetical Commission where he was responsible for the organization of mission work in Eastern Ukraine,
  • was a member of the Patriarchal Commission of Monasticism,
  • was the administrator of St. Nicholas parish in Peremyshlyany,
  • worked on the renewal of monastic life and the restoration of the Monastery of Borys and Hlib in Polotsk (Belarus) while simultaneously serving at the parishes in Polotsk, Vitebsk, Gomel, Mogilev, and Brest (Belarusian Greek Catholic Church),
  • was the spiritual father of the Christian Youth Community in Minsk,
  • was the head of the Secretariat of the UGCC Council of Monasticism,
  • was the head of the UGCC liturgical council on preparing texts of divine services,
  • was the head of the Council of Higher Superiors of Monasteries of the UGCC,
  • was a member of the Secretariat of the Patriarchal Sobor,
  • was the head of staff of the Lviv Archeparchy Curia,
  • was the head of the Patriarchal Liturgical Commission of the UGCC,
  • was the chair of the Synodal Committee on Liturgical Issues,
  • and wrote four books: A Superior as A Spiritual Father, Spiritual Instructions, Be Saints, and Borshchivka – A Pearl of Polesia.

His episcopal ordination was held on 5 September 2010 at St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv with Archbishop Ihor (Voznyak), the Metropolitan of Lviv, as the main consecrator and Bishop Yulian (Voronovskyi) of Sambir-Drohobych and Bishop Pavlo (Chomytskyi) of Stamford as the co-consecrators. On 3 August 2010, His Beatitude Lyubomyr (Husar), Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Galicia, by general consent of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC, appointed hieromonk Venedykt (Aleksiychuk) the bishop-auxiliary of Lviv Archeparchy with a titular see in Germaniciana.

From 2014-2016, the bishop studied in the Key Executive MBA Program at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv and obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. During this time, he also published two books (Reflections on the Liturgical Reading of the Gospel and Reflections on the Liturgical Reading of the Apostles), was awarded the Cross of Military Chaplain, and named a senator of the Ukrainian Catholic University.

On 20 April 2017, the synod of bishops’ election was confirmed by Pope Francis, appointing him Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Nicholas of Chicago of the Ukrainians in the United States of America. We welcome him warmly to the eparchy!

Довідка про єпархію. Єпархія святого Миколая в Чикаґо входить до Філадельфійської митрополії та є її найбільшою частиною з огляду на територію, охоплюючи території північних, центральних та західних штатів країни. Вона була заснована 1961 року та згідно з даними «Annuario Pontificio 2017», станом на минулий рік нараховувала приблизно 50 парафій, надаючи духовну опіку понад 10 тисячам вірних. Цей осідок став вакантним 16 серпня 2016 року після відходу до вічності четвертого Єпарха Чиказького владики Річарда (Семінака).

February 25th, 2016

Live-streaming Mercy conference

Sr Ann Laszok, OSBM sent the below note. Please take advantage of the opportunity to delve deeper into your faith by attending the Saturday conference which is conveniently streamed online.

Stairs of Mercy Conference IconGlory to Jesus Christ!

Not only will we be Live Streaming our “Climbing the Stairs to Mercy” conference on March 5, 2016 but we will have Bishop Bohdan Danylo present with us on that day. Come and enjoy the speakers as well as Bishop Bohdan.

If you are not able to attend the conference in person because of distance, please note the site that you can log onto your computer at the bottom of the flyer or click on the following:

Live Stream @
Or go to and click “Livestream” and “Eparchy of St. Josaphat”

Please help us publicize this launching into Live Streaming for all our workshops from now on.

Thanking you in advance for your support.

Sr Ann

March 13th, 2015

Discern and Honestly Respond to Your Call!

youth runningA loud assortment of children happily chase each other on the playground by the church patio, where I am enjoying beautiful music and delicious Ukrainian food: holubtsi, sauerkraut with kovbasa and Jalapeno varenykys (yes, we do have those in Texas, and I am sure we hold patent rights on the creation!) at our annual Fall Festival. Every November, the North Texas community comes together at St. Sophia parish to celebrate an event where people share and enjoy heart-warming Ukrainian food, live music, good fellowship, and a well-deserved rest.

It is the children of the parish though, who catch my attention as they run past. Their laughter, excitement and joy give evidence to the fun they are having. The cares of the world do not seem to touch their happy faces. They are running free of all the troubles, concerns and worries that most of us as adults burden under on a daily basis.

Looking at this lively and happy group of children, I wonder who will they grow up to be? I am sure in that carefree bunch we have future musicians, drivers, nurses, electricians, teachers, astronauts, doctors, accountants, clergy… So, who will they grow up to be? What will they choose to do in life?

I know that every one of them is given a unique set of skills and talents to make this world better, to make the world a holier place. As a matter of fact, I believe everyone is called to do something special, to change the world for the better, to make a difference. Everyone has a God-given purpose. Everyone has a special and unique mission. Everyone has a vocation…

At the same time, it is our responsibility to discern what our true vocation is and fulfill it to the best of our abilities. Of course, in the process of discernment we will encounter our secularized society trying to pull us one way or another. Our modern culture will try to convince us that our vocation is in reality what it considers to be our vocation, and our success will be measured by what it considers to be success.

Society and culture will try to persuade us that we have to be this or to be that; that we have to behave this way or that way; that we have to live up to their expectations. Unfortunately, at times we might even be tempted to believe it… and act accordingly. Nonetheless, the question is, with all that interference, how much room is left to hear what God really wants us to be? To discern what God really expects us to do? To discern what is our true vocation?

In a beautiful passage, the prophet Jeremiah talks about his vocation and how the Lord called him before he was even born: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” (Jer. 1:5). Similarly, God only desires what is best for us. There is no catch; there is no trick with God. He is not there to cheat us or mislead us. No, He is there to guide us, to lead us, to help us to grow in holiness and become what we were meant to be from the very beginning. Therefore, if we respond to God’s call, if we answer Him truthfully and faithfully, we will be able to find happiness and fulfillment in life. We will discover that we can only be our true selves if we follow our vocation, if we follow the path of who we were meant to be.

In addition, with a multitude of different vocations in life, some of us are called to the priesthood and religious life. I believe that especially in this day and time our church and our eparchy needs young men and women to be honest with their discernment and to seriously respond to that call. In the words of St. John Paul II: “be not afraid” to answer this call – you are gifted by God. Do not worry about things that ‘the world’ will try to convince you of and have you believe. Stay counter-cultural. Pray. Discern. Listen to God’s gentle words. Honestly respond to your call!

May God bless us and help us all in our discernment!

Fr. Pavlo Popov
Director of Vocations
St. Nicholas Eparchy of Chicago

(972) 370-4700
5600 N. Colony Blvd.
The Colony, TX  75056

Fr Pavlo Email Address Image

August 2nd, 2014

Dormition Fast for Peace

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Sophia,

TheotokosAugust 1st was the beginning of the Dormition Fast. Traditionally, this fast, which lasts until the Feast of the Dormition (August 15) is observed as a special time of prayer and fasting for healing.

Within the past months, our world has seen a dramatic increase in violence – violence that especially threatens our Christian brothers and sisters. The Syrian Civil War has been devastating to the Eastern Christian communities there. ISIS militants in Iraq have undertaken the task of eradicating Christians, Shiite Muslims and other religious minorities from areas under their control. Militants in northern Nigeria, known as Boko Haram, have consistently been targeting the Christian populations within their reach. The war against foreign invasion and terrorists in Ukraine has escalated in a very dangerous way (especially after the attack on the Malaysian Airlines flight by the terrorists). The current war between Israel and Hamas has led to unprecedented suffering for the Palestinian people living in Gaza. And finally, in our own State of Texas, we are witnesses to a tragic refugee crisis affecting children from Central America – sent on a perilous journey by desperate relatives to escape the horrific criminal violence that ravages Central America.

In the face of all of this suffering and unrest, we begin the Dormition Fast. In unity with our sister churches all over the world we will dedicate our fasting and prayers to these intentions.

Attached is a prayer book with selections from the “Paraklesis to the Theotokos” – a service traditionally chanted during this fast – combined with special petitions for peace and an end to injustice. There are also daily scripture readings that will aid in our meditations during this fast. The prayers should take no more than 10 minutes a day, but they will serve as a daily reminder to hold our suffering and terrified brothers and sisters in our thoughts and prayers throughout the day.

Let us pray that, through the prayers of the Theotokos, Christ will quickly bring peace and the end of conflict and suffering.

Please feel free to pass this along to anyone you think may be willing to join us in these prayers.

Fr. Pavlo Popov

Click to Download the Dormition Fast for Peace Daily Prayers and Readings

March 7th, 2013

Welcome Sophia Catherine!

Fr. Pavlo with SophiaFather Pavlo and Pani Luba welcomed their third child, Sophia Catherine, on March 6, 2013.

She weighed 7 pounds and 15 ounces and was 19.2 inches long.

Fr. Pavlo said as he was looking at her that he thought to himself, “What a beautiful way to grow the church!”

Sophia joins big brother Nicholas and big sister Nadia.

Mom and baby are doing well.

Welcome Sophia!
[nggallery id=18]

September 8th, 2012

Encounter 2012 is upon us!

Every ENCOUNTER presents an opportunity for change.

An encounter is described as a ‘coming together,’ a face to face meeting, an experience, which may be unexpected and sudden.

Consider the unexpected spiritual encounters with God related through Scripture; accounts of Abraham and Sarah, Moses, David, Samuel, Elijah, and Jeremiah; Mary, Joseph, the Apostles, the centurion, the woman at the well, the blind man, the paralytic, the possessed, the adulteress, the myhrr-bearing women, and on and on. Their sudden and unexpected encounters with the living God resulted in each experiencing a personal change, a metanoia, and a call to discipleship; a burning desire, a commitment to spread the good news and good works of their God.

There are so many examples throughout church history and present times of encounters—those face-to-face meetings, sudden or unexpected experiences– with the living God. Contemporary society may refer to these as “Aha!” moments. But, when guided by the Spirit of love and the eyes of our hearts, God is encountered in the poor, the lonely, the hungry, the sick, the dying, the imprisoned, the orphans, the widows, the undereducated, the addicted, the abused, the homeless, the rejected and the persecuted. These encounters result in God’s people experiencing a personal change and the call to discipleship, with the desire, determination and commitment to become God’s eyes and heart, His hands and feet, His love and mercy. By sharing the love we receive from God, we act on our call to ministry. Led by the Spirit, this is spiritual discipleship.

One may ask, “Is a lay person really called to discipleship and to be about God’s work?” Paul guides us with these words, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,…and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:13). And so by virtue of our baptism we are all called to discipleship, members of the royal priesthood, anointed in the oil of chrismation and sent forth as workers in Christ’s vineyard, not alone, but as co-workers. “All you who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!”

ENCOUNTER 2012 of the Eastern Catholic Churches invites us—each one of us—to be open to our call to spiritual discipleship through the theme “Together in Christ” and with the purpose of exploring “clergy and laity together in the vineyard of Christ” with “Unity in Mission; Diversity in Ministry.” In Romans 12: 4-8, Paul tells us, “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Encountering God, personal metanoia, service through discipleship, co-worker in the vineyard of Christ—this is the promise of ENCOUNTER 2012 of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Many are called, will you be among the chosen? Will you accept the invitation to…ENCOUNTER?

ENCOUNTER 2012: Eastern Catholic Churches “Together in Christ” is a unique Conference embracing the entire Church family, bishops, clergy, religious and laity, who through baptism, share in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Christ.” The Eastern Catholic Bishops of the U.S.A. invite all seekers to come and experience ENCOUNTER. Choose the most convenient location and date.

Thursday and Friday of the Conference are reserved for clergy due to Liturgical obligations Saturday and Sunday. The Clergy Conference, which begins Thursday with registration from 1 to 2 p.m., includes prayer services, sessions, vendor visits and hospitality. The conference concludes Friday 2 p.m. Topics for the sessions are the same as the main conference.

The Main Conference, for bishops, clergy, religious and laity, begins Friday at 5 p.m. with registration and hospitality. Registration will begin again Saturday at 8:00 a.m, for those arriving. A continental breakfast will be available until time of prayer. The opening prayer service is at 9:45 a.m. The day includes sessions, visits to vendor booths, meals, prayer and hospitality. The topics of the sessions include: Who is Church? Activity of the Royal Priesthood, The ‘How’ and ‘Why’ of Lay Leadership: Action—Put on Christ, and, Blueprint for Church Growth. Sunday begins with Matins, Divine Liturgy and the keynote address at brunch—a charge to ‘Servant Leadership: Be all you can be!” Liturgical services will be according to the sacred-uniqueness of the faith traditions of the various Eastern Churches.

MID-WEST: Cleveland, Ohio
EAST: Hillsborough, New Jersey
WEST: El Segundo, California
MID-WEST September 20-23, 2012
Holiday Inn Cleveland South Independence
6001 Rockside Rd., Independence, OH 44131
Rooms: $89.00/night 216-524-8050

EAST October 11 – 14, 2012
St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Center
1900 Brooks Blvd., Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Rooms: Days Inn (½ mile from St. Mary)
$59.99/night 908-685-9000

WEST November 1-4, 2012
Hacienda Hotel (at LAX Airport)
525 N.Sepulveda Blvd. El Segundo, CA 90245
Rooms: $69.00/night 310-615-0015/800-421-5900

Contact hotel directly for room reservations. Use group name Encounter for special rate.

Conference registration and payment will be accepted on-line at the below links or registration may be by mail with the brochure registration form and payment sent to the regional coordinator at the indicated address. Brochures will be available at all Eparchial parishes, regional coordinator offices and on-line.


Fee for the conference is $75 for individuals; $50 per person in groups of 5 or more. Reservations for hotel rooms are separate at nominal rates (see brochure or website for information).

Encounter 2012 Brochure
Mid-West Conference Schedule
East Conference Schedule
West Conference Schedule
June 3rd, 2012

The Abiding Flame: What the Holy Spirit offers to every generation

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

The celebration of the feast of Pentecost officially ends the Paschal season. As we celebrate this glorious feast, we focus on the Holy Spirit and recall how He came down onto the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ in the form of tongues of fire, fulfilling the promise that Christ had given them while He was still with them. This spirit was the Comforter, the Heavenly King, who would lead them into the fullness of the Truth concerning God and would be for them their final preparatory gift from God for the ministry they were about to embrace.

“Was it upon the twelve that it [the Holy Spirit] came? Not so; but upon the hundred and twenty. For Peter would not have quoted to no purpose the testimony of the prophet, saying, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams’ (Joel 2:28). ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.’ (Mt. 3:11).” –St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles

After the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples and followers they felt a new power within them. These men and women, old and young, were inspired by the Holy Spirit to a new purpose, a new goal, and a new destiny. There was a new energy and urgency to carry out their mission. Those people had new courage to face persecutions. They had new boldness to speak about their faith. They had a new passion powerfully burning inside them to stand before their own families, friends, and neighbors and boldly proclaim the good news about Jesus Christ and His gospel. After all, they WERE ON FIRE!

They were on fire because on that day of Pentecost, God has set the world on fire. Divine, all-consuming fire, that once started would last until the ends of the world. The fire that made the disciples more passionate and outspoken about their faith. The fire that was not possible to resist or to keep enclosed, but needed to be communicated to other people, to be shared with other nations to be preached and proclaimed throughout the entire world!

The feast of Pentecost was a cause of great rejoicing for the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ some 2,000 years ago. It is also still a cause of great joy and celebration today because the same fire that caused the hearts of Jesus’ disciples to burn within them still burns as hot today as it did when Christ walked the earth. Pentecost is not some kind of a liturgical event from the past; it is a celebration beyond space and time, for there is a constant outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that divine fire, is still alive and burning hot even today through the sacramental Mysteries, the Church’s teachings, and the Sacred Scriptures. That fire that burns within us that we received as we were chrismated–that working of the Holy Spirit within us–transforms, melts, tempers, and purifies us. It makes us participants of that apostolic calling to spread the Gospel of Christ in word and deed wherever we happen to find ourselves in the world.

“…Filled with love, the holy Apostles went into the world, preaching salvation to mankind and fearing nothing, for the Spirit of God was their strength. When St. Andrew was threatened with death upon the cross if he did not stay his preaching he answered: ‘If I feared the cross I should not be preaching the Cross.” In this manner all the other Apostles, and after them the martyrs and holy men who wrestled against evil, went forward with joy to meet pain and suffering. For the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.” -Silouan the Athonite, “Wisdom from Mt. Athos”

Will we be so focused on our own little worlds that we become oblivious to God and the people around us? Will we block His presence in our lives? We are called as baptized and chrismated Christians to be effective witnesses to the Gospel just like the apostles and other believers were. Male and female, old and young, we must be willing to let the Holy Spirit flow and work through us and our actions.

“The aim of all those who live in God is to please our Lord Jesus Christ and become reconciled with God the Father through receiving the Holy Spirit, thus securing their salvation, for in this consists the salvation of every soul. If this aim and this activity is lacking, all other labour is useless and all other striving is in vain. Every path of life which does not lead to this is without profit.” -St. Simeon the New Theologian, “Writings from the Philokalia”

May God bless us all and may the works of the Holy Spirit be visible through our actions and in the choices we make in our lives. Amen.

-Fr. Pavlo

February 11th, 2012

Priestly Forums Summary

Father Pavlo held the second priestly forums giving us a state of the parish address after Liturgy last Sunday. At the well-attended event, he went over the financial committee’s report and then discussed where the parish is headed. Here is a summary for those who were unable to attend:

1. Lent/the Great Fast starts on Clean Monday, Feb. 20th. (Or, one could say, it starts the evening before following Sunday vespers on the 19th.) We will have the Rite of Forgiveness service during the Liturgy on Sunday the 19th.

2. Our full parish catechetical program will start on February 26th following the Divine Liturgy (starting around 11:30/11:45). Father Pavlo will discuss the who, what, when, where, why and how of the Great Fast in our Byzantine/Kyivan tradition. He will focus on adult catechesis and all are welcome, including interested guests. Parishioners are especially encouraged to attend.

3. Our catechetical program, Generations of Faith, will be held around every 1.5 – 2 months with a new topic at each event. Watch the bulletin for more info!

4. Childrens’ catechesis will begin in full swing in the Fall and will be held weekly once it starts.

5. Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts will be held Wednesday and Friday evenings at 7PM throughout the Great Fast. The first and fifth week of Lent are different in structure, so follow the announcements.

6. After Pascha/Easter, we will introduce more liturgical services such as Vespers and liturgy outside of Sunday. Please pray for our parish as we grow and please support Father Pavlo as he prays with and for our community!

7. We placed the property on the side of the church for sale. If you know anyone who is looking, please let them know about this fantastic location right off the tollway. We are also trying to rent the parish hall and its adjoining 2 classrooms (about 1900 square feet) for use during the week. Please spread the word!

8. Please remember to show appreciation to those who volunteer. Don’t wait until you’re asked to help. There is so much that needs to be done that you need only offer!

November 24th, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

In his book The Attitude Of Gratitude, James Merritt reflected on 1 Thes 5:18 with a story about the famous and successful author Rudyard Kipling:

A newspaper reporter came up to him once and said, “Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over $100 a word.” Mr. Kipling raised his eyebrows and said, “Really, I certainly wasn’t aware of that.” The reporter cynically reached into his pocket and pulled out a $100 bill and gave it to Kipling and said, “Here’s a $100 bill Mr. Kipling. Now you give me one of your $100 words.”

Rudyard Kipling looked at that $100 bill for a moment, took it and folded it up and put it in his pocket and said, “Thanks.”

Well the word “thanks” is certainly a $100 word. In fact, I would say it is more like a million dollar word. That is one word that is too seldom heard, too rarely spoken, and too often forgotten.

It might only have six letters, but it gets across a point that very few other words are capable of achieving. It’s a word that selflessly conveys appreciation for what one person in a relationship has done for the other. As we reflect upon this simple word, gratitude should arise out of our relationship with God because He has given us so much. He cares for us, provides for us, and protects us. We have food on the table, good homes, good times, love, and health. We have tasted the pleasures and joys of life because he is our heavenly Father who loves us and has mercy on us.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures (James 1:17-18).

If, for some reasons, you do not consider yourself to be among the fortunate or lucky or blessed, then just turn on the news and see what is happening in the world. Violence, shootings, riots, injustice…. Haitians who lost everything in a Tuesday earthquake borrowed clothes to be able to go to church on Sunday where they offered thanks to God. After priests and bishops were martyred in front of their churches, Iraqi Christians continued to show up each Sunday and feast day to offer their thanks to God. And if you still are not convinced about God’s blessings in your life for which you can be grateful, then go to any hospital and walk through the units where you will see suffering and grief and misery in its fullness. We have much to be thankful for.

It is often easier to be thankful when everything is perfect and well. A question that rises now in my mind is will we still be thankful even in times:
• when we experience sickness and continuing ill health?
• when we have to lay to rest a loved one whom we will miss very much?
• when we have to face the indignity and the worry of unemployment?
• when we are overwhelmed with worry and are depressed about the way life is turning out?

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:2-5).

Today as we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States, I encourage you to join me in giving thanks to God for his love, forgiveness, and the gift of eternal life. As we move on with our day, let us all recognize and remember that God is always at work in our lives, giving us in abundance what we need from day to day; it is only up to us to recognize this and convey our appreciation to him. Today we say, “Thanks.”

I praise You, O God of our fathers, I hymn You, I bless You,
I give thanks to You for your great and tender mercy.
To You I flee, O merciful and mighty God.
Shine into my heart with the True Sun of your righteousness.
Enlighten my mind and guard all my senses,
that from this time on I may walk uprightly and keep Your commandments,
and finally may attain unto all fullness of life, found only in You,
who are the source of life and the light of all.
For You are my God, and to You, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be ascribed glory, now and forever and ever. Amen.

I give thanks on this day for all of you who support me and assist me in ministering to our faithful at St. Sophia. I am very proud and happy to serve you as your priest. Please remember in the midst of your celebrations to take a moment and offer your own prayer of thanksgiving to Almighty God.

I wish every one of you a joyous and peaceful Thanksgiving Feast,
Fr. Pavlo

by Ralph Waldo Emerson
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.