Ukrainian parishes in Arnold celebrate St. Vladimir together
Separated by only a block in distance but centuries in religious doctrine, two Arnold churches came together Sunday.
Parishioners at the Holy Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Church and St. Vladimir Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church met to celebrate the birth of their faith: the baptism of the Ukrainian nation into Christianity more than a century ago.
“We show that our faith is strong; 1,025 years ago St. Vladimir gave us this opportunity to grow in faith and spirit in life,” said the Rev. Yaroslav Koval, pastor of St. Vladimir.
“We look at Christ from different points of view but we have many things in common,” said the Rev. Mark Swindle, pastor of Holy Virgin.
They said the service was not an attempt to convert people of either faith, which remain separate. They described it as more of a historic observance in an ethnic culture that defines parishioners in both churches.
Both priests said it is too difficult to briefly explain the reasons why it happened, but the Ukrainian church divided in 1054. That was 66 years after Vladimir the Great, the leader of the Ukrainian nation, formally accepted Christianity on behalf of his people and joined the Byzantine Church.
Swindle said it was commemorated with a mass baptism of thousands of Ukrainian men, women and children in the Dnipro River in 988. Prince Vladimir was later canonized.
It was that historic event which the parishioners at the two churches along Kenneth Avenue came together to observe in the Service of the Blessing of the Water. The service, held at Holy Virgin, was performed by both priests with about 30 people in attendance.
Dressed in distinctly different blue vestments, Swindle and Koval performed the service with Swindle speaking in English and Koval repeating in Ukrainian. With the scent of incense heavy in the air, they again blessed holy water, a custom meant to limit the spread of “sinful uncleanness.”
Swindle said the event is noteworthy because some older parishioners have told him that years ago, some members of the churches would cross the street rather than share the same sidewalk.
“In recent years, we have gotten together,” said Anne Pituch, 91, of Arnold, a Holy Virgin member. “At Christmas time they came here and we went there. But, in the old days, it wasn't very friendly.”
She said this was the first time they shared in the Blessing of the Water.
“I enjoyed it,” said Susan Podolski, 59, a St. Vladimir member from New Kensington. “I had never been to an Orthodox church. I was interested in seeing how much different it is and how much it is the same.
“It is more same than different,” she added.
“The warmth and welcoming of the people in this parish is beautiful,” said Dolly Lobur of Arnold, a St. Vladimir member.Walter Sakal, 82, of Arnold, president of the Holy Virgin parish, said there really wasn't animosity between the members of the two churches. He characterized it as pettiness and believes they have gotten past that.
Speaking of the service and the reception that followed, Sakal said, “It makes me feel good that they came here. It's something that if my parents were alive, they would be very grateful for. For me, being second generation, I am very grateful.”
Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman hurt in Harrison trailer fire
- PennDOT response fails to satisfy New Kensington’s safety concerns about Route 366
- Charges filed in June stabbing of Buffalo Township sailor
- Saxonburg man pleads no contest to setting boy, 7, on fire
- Marine recalls Saigon: April 30, 1975 — the day the U.S. Embassy closed
- Woman who stabbed while naked in McKees Rocks believed to be in New Kensington area
- Natrona Heights Scoutmaster proud to carry on tradition
- Tarentum man wants confiscated cash back so he can hire attorney
- Lower Burrell sewer projects will cost millions
- South Buffalo Township woman accused of stealing nearly $13K from employer