PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Archbishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., representing Metropolitan Antony of the UOC-U.S.A., visited Kyiv on a humanitarian mission. Amid the backdrop of the festive Nativity season, there was misery and great need.
The UOC-U.S.A., often working through the St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Society, recently provided aid to the elderly in Mariupol. With the blessing of Metropolitan Antony of the UOC-U.S.A., and Metropolitan Epifaniy, Prime Hierarch of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), this common social service project of both Churches works tirelessly to assist the hungry, to give them hope once more, and to not only nourish their souls, but also their bodies.
Working under the coordination of Roman Kholodov, along with the students of the Kyiv Theological Academy of the OCU, meals are offered biweekly – each Tuesday and Thursday. On December 22, Archbishop Daniel joined the humanitarian workers to assist and alleviate the worries of these people, if only for a moment, by helping to deliver more than 250 meals that included cups of milk, warm soup, tea, waffles and cheesecake. High caloric items are not a luxury, but a need in order to ward off the cold and keep the bodies from freezing.
Many of the recipients did not make eye contact, as they seemed embarrassed. Seeing that the crowd was feeling utterly disheartened, Archbishop Daniel walked up to them and began speaking with each person, giving them value and assuring them that they were not invisible, but were seen, were important and were loved. While not able to touch or hug the people, being respective of social distancing due to the pandemic, the archbishop nonetheless was able to touch the hearts and warm the souls of those who eagerly came closer to him to hear him speak. His voice brought the people out of their gloom as they lifted their eyes in wonder.
While distributing food, Archbishop Daniel gave an encouraging word to each recipient and quietly uttered a prayer for their wellbeing. The line of shivering individuals ebbed and flowed until finally everyone was fed.
Archbishop Daniel then walked through Independence Square, stopping here and there to speak with individuals who had wandered off to sip their hot tea. In the freezing wind, many people seek shelter in the underground subways and railroad stations, trying to find respite from the blistering cold outside. At midnight, additional food distributions begin in these very locations. The Church does not wait for the people to come to her for help, but it goes to the people. As Christ went among the most derelict and needy of society, so the Church goes as well to aid those in need.
This is all made possible through the donations of the UOC-U.S.A. and the St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Society. Readers can send donations to the UA Assistance Fund of the UOC of the U.S.A. by mailing donations to St. Andrew’s Society, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., P.O. Box 495, South Bound Brook, NJ, 08880. For additional information, readers can visit the St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Society website, https://uocofusa.org/st_andrew_uos.