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25th Anniversary of Chronobyl Nuclear Explosion Remembered in Chicago!

About two hundred faithful of Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic parishes in Chicago Metropolitan area gathered at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral at 5:23PM on April 25, 2011 to pray for the victims of Chornobyl Nuclear Disaster that happened exactly to a minute on August 26, 1986. The timing of this prayer service was crucial, as the time difference between Ukraine and Chicago is 8 hours. While the bells of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral struck in Chicago at 5:23 pm on Monday, April 25th, it was exactly 1:23am in Ukraine on August 26 – the time of the 25-year old explosion.

His Grace Bishop Daniel the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA led the prayer service with clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Very Rev. Bohdan Kalynuk – pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Bensenville, IL; Archimandrite Pankratij – pastor of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, IL; Rev. Fr. Walter Hwostik – pastor of Annunciation of the Birth-Giver of God Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Milwaukee, WI; Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sendeha – pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Palos Park, IL; Very Rev. Fr. Andriy Shelvakh and Protodeacon Mykola Dilendorf of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, IL) and Ukrainian Catholic Church (Rev. Bohdan Nalysnyk – pastor of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Chicago, IL; Rev. Ihor Koshyk – associate pastor and Rt. Rev. Archimandrite  Ivan Krotec – pastor-emeritus of St. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in Chicago, IL) of Chicago Deaneries.

The Consul General of Ukraine in Chicago, Honorable Konstantyn Kudryk as well as numerous representatives of Ukrainian community organizations joined the faithful in the memorial service.

The Bishop opened the evening with the reflection, quoting the Pastoral Message from the Ukrainian Catholic and the Ukrainian Orthodox Hierarchs of United States of America and Canada, stating: “A quarter century on, the catastrophe in Chornobyl remains the largest and most devastating nuclear accident in history and has rightly been described as the technological disaster of the 20th century.

Recalling and reflecting upon these sobering and saddening facts on the 25th anniversary of the Chornobyl catastrophe, we can only lift up our hearts in prayer to the Almighty God and beg for His continued mercy and compassion as we remember those who suffered indescribable pain and loss.

We recall firstly, on this solemn anniversary, the many innocent men, women and children who perished in this tragedy and we pray for the repose of their souls.  We remember in particular the brave and selfless firefighters, who, in the hours and days following the explosion, knowingly and willingly exposed themselves to mortal danger and almost certain death in order to extinguish the flames and construct and place the sarcophagus on the smouldering ruins of the reactor.  Of such men Christ speaks eloquently when He declares: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13)  We pray that God grant them eternal rest in a place of everlasting light where there is no pain, sorrow or mourning.

We also remember and pray for those whose health was irrevocably damaged by the radiation that was released that day, those who were taken ill and are living with sickness to this day, and for their families, and for those whose lives were cut short by premature death.  We especially remember the children, most of whom who were born after the catastrophe itself, who suffer physical and psychological disabilities today because of Chornobyl.  We also remember and pray for the many thousands of people who were forced, by the noxious cloud of radiation, to flee their homes and leave behind forever, everything that was familiar and loved by them: the villages, houses, fields and farms where they and generations before them were born, lived, laboured and died.  May God grant all who suffer His peace, hope and consolation.

And, in a special way, we also remember and pray for our beloved homeland of Ukraine: so rich, generous and abundant, yet so often neglected, plundered, and abused over the centuries by the men who ruled over her.”

In conclusion, Bishop Daniel made references to the latest nuclear tragedy in Japan, while making references to the tragedy of Ukrainian people in Chornobyl and sharing his memories of the very first days following the Nuclear Explosion, as he was in Kyiv just a few days passed the tragedy occurring only 50km away from the capitol of Ukraine in 1986.

As the prayer service concluded, Rev. Fr. Bohdan Nalysnyk – a pastor of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Chicago, IL made a presentation to the Orphanage Mission Fund of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in the amount of $2400 – the proceeds from the Nativity Concert that annually takes place at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral with the choirs of the Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic parish communities participating.

The choir of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, under the prayerful and skillful direction of Volodymyr Popowych led the singing of the Pascha Memorial service for the victims of the Nuclear tragedy.

Following the prayer service, the faithful gathered at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral’s social hall for a presentation of His Grace Bishop Daniel on the charitable work of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA with the orphanages in Ukraine.

25th Anniversary of Chronobyl Nuclear Explosion Remembered in Chicago! - 04/25/11

Photos by Subdeacon Vasyl Dovgan

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Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
P.O. Box 495;
South Bound Brook, NJ 08880
732-356-0090 (Phone) / 732-356-5556 (Fax)

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