Сторадавній історичний храм XIV століття в Аусбургу, Німеччина
знову став храмом Української Православної Єпархії в Західній Європі
Ukrainian Orthodox Christians settled in Augsburg, Germany in 1946, establishing a parish community under the spiritual leadership of Fr. Ivan Kulchytskyi. Throughout the years, the parish community lived through numerous challenges and changes, moving to different church buildings, working closely with the local Christian communities, always seeking a permanent location for the pious Ukrainian Orthodox community. The Russian aggression in Ukraine sparked a new wave of immigrants that arrived in Germany, seeking safety and peace. The 77-year-old community became invigorated by the new membership of faithful that seek comfort in a spiritual way of life, praying for the peace and stability of their ancestral homeland.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Eparchy of Western Europe of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora, since the beginning of the World War II, and even before the start of the war, has always nurtured the spiritual mindset of the people of Ukrainian descent in Europe. Generations of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians journeyed through Germany, Belgium, France and other European countries, often finding homes in the United States of America, Canada, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Generations of clergy have served the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Diaspora, establishing lasting connections between Ukrainian Orthodox Christians throughout the world. In 1995, the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the UOC in Diaspora – under the spiritual leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, renewed their efforts caring for the spiritual health and wellbeing of a new generation of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians that found themselves outside of their ancestral homeland.
On the Fourth Sunday of Great and Holy Lent (March 26, 2023), His Eminence Archbishop Daniel visited the invigorated 77 year-old Holy Great-Martyr Barbara Ukrainian Orthodox parish family in Augsburg, Bavaria, served by Very Rev. Fr. Victor Mandziuk.
The children of the parish family greeted Vladyka Daniel with the traditional German apple-bread, thus welcoming the hierarchs with their smiles and the spiritual flavor of sweetness of their Faith journey. Entering the XIV century old church building (which now belongs to the city of Augsburg under the name of St. Anthony), Archbishop Daniel reflected on the spiritual legacy of the forefathers that prayed in the city since 1940s, entreating the Lord for the protection of the people and nation of Ukraine.
The clergy in attendance, Very Rev. Fr. Ivan Kubushyn, Very Rev. Fr. Victor Mandziuk, Very Rev. Fr. Volodymyr Soroka, Rev. Fr. Alexander Smoktunowicz, Hierodeacon Macedony – welcomed the hierarch into the temple, presenting him with a hand-cross for veneration and beseeching his prayers for the parishioners in attendance and the greater Ukrainian Orthodox family throughout the world.
Vladyka Daniel presided over the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, reflecting in his sermon: “…Some say that “time is an excellent teacher”. What is one good lesson you have learned in the past year or in the past 77 years as a parish family?
The biggest lesson I have learned last year and continued to learn it up to this very moment is this. I STILL HAVE A LOT OF GROWING TO DO IN MY FAITH!
At this point in my life, I think that I am capable of realizing Who God is in my life... YET, at the same time, I often catch myself thinking about my spiritual shortcomings. Does that sound like a contradiction to you?
Well, consider the statement made by the man in today’s text. He said to Christ Jesus, “I believe, (but) help my unbelief!” Does that make sense to you? If you know the Lord, and if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
I am absolutely fascinated by the statement that this man made to Jesus. Whether he knew the Lord or not, it is hard to say. Yet he did manage to summarize in one sentence, what is probably the greatest obstacle to spiritual growth in the Christian life; that is, faltering faith. You see, this man was saying, in essence, that although he believed in what Jesus was able to do, he still had doubts. He was facing up to his faltering faith. And because he faced up to his lack of faith, he experienced a great blessing.
…You can talk all day long about your faith in God, but if the doubts are there, you’re not fooling anybody but yourself! SO! BE HONEST ABOUT IT!
Here is a lesson for us - WE NEED TO BE ACUTELY AWARE OF OUR DOUBTS.
Which is the greater sin? Faltering in our faith, or faking our faith? FAKING! Listen, even the best Christians have times of doubt. We likewise have lapses in our faith. “Is it true God? Are you real? Do you really care about me? Will you really take care of me?’ “If you care about me, why did you let this happen to me!” We don’t always WANT to exercise faith.
…If we are to grow in Christ we have to realize that it is quite possible that we do not trust the Lord as much as we would like to think we do. The best thing we could possibly do is stand before the Lord and say from the bottom of our hearts, “I believe Lord, but please help me with my unbelief”
Throughout the service, the clergy offered the opportunity for the faithful to partake in the Holy Mystery of Repentance; thus, dozens of people received the grace of the Holy Spirit and approached the Sacred Chalice for Communion.
Prayers for Ukraine and the family members of the faithful in attendance were offered, beseeching the Lord for the safety of those in the Armed Force of Ukraine, protecting the sovereign borders of Ukraine and freedom to live in a country free of slaughter and persecution by those who pledge their allegiance to the notions of destruction and death.
Following the chanting of the traditional hymn “God, Great and Almighty, Protect our Ukraine…”, Fr. Victor offered words of welcome to the archbishop, expressing gratitude to the hierarchs of the Church for the love and care they provide for the Ukrainian Orthodox Christians under their spiritual omophorion in Diaspora.
The parish community organized a Lenten potluck, during which Vladyka Daniel had an opportunity to meet with over 150 parishioners in attendance, answering their questions and providing guidance as it pertains to their spiritual life, often touching upon the social and moral issues of the society.
The day concluded with the archpastoral visit to the Augsburg Medical Hospital, where three Ukrainian soldiers undergoing major medical treatments, in some cases fighting for their survival. Speaking to the wounded soldier Ivan, Vladyka witnessed his medical limitations and yet the determination to serve the freedom needs of the God-loving people of Ukraine. Offering prayers and blessing each soldier, the archbishop thanked them for their service and wished them speedy recovery and the ability to reunite with their families and battle-buddies, with whom they share comradery and love for life.
The archpastoral visit of His Eminence Archbishop Daniel to the Western European Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox in Diaspora concludes on Monday, March 27, 2023.