From September 15 - 21, 2005, just over a month after his historical visit to our Patriarchal See in Ukraine and to the visible head of the UAOC, His Eminence, Metropolitan Mykhayil, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All America & the Diaspora for the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, made a canonical visitation to the Archeparchy of South America. The Metropolitan visited the Latin American clergy and faithful in order to experience the life of the church there and to offer the encouragement and pastoral love of the entire Ukrainian Church.

In accordance with the decree of the Sobor of Bishops of the UAOC of June, 2005, His Eminence especially wished to celebrate with the Church in Colombia, the 15th. Jubilee Year of the Third Resurrection of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, following the period of Soviet oppression. As in Ukraine, the remembrance of this important anniversary was close to the hearts of the Latin American faithful, who also understand well, the meaning of persecution and the importance of the liberating love of Jesus Christ.

The principal celebrations took place in the cities of Pereira and Manizales during the weekend of September 16 - 19. Many historical events occurred during the Divine Services on these days. The Metropolitan had the pleasure to ordain Protodeacon Juan Ramirez to the Holy Priesthood on Saturday in Pereira and to elevate three seminarians to the orders of Lector and Subdeacon.

Also during the weekend's festivities, His Eminence was afforded the opportunity to crismate over 100 faithful, following Vespers in the Manizales Cathedral. Following the Vespers and Crismation rites, members of the cathedral parish cultural ensemble performed for the Metropolitan, selections of traditional Latin American and Ukrainian folk music and dancing.

After Sunday's Pontifical Divine Liturgy, the 15th. Jubilee Year was observed by a procession (khrestnyj vkhid) through the streets of Manizales, which culminated in the Small Blessing of Water and an appropriate homily for the occasion. In observance of the Jubilee Year, Metropolitan Mykhayil was privileged to bestow upon the faithful and pilgrims present, the Patriarchal Blessing of His Beatitude, Metropolitan MEFODIY, Visible Head of the UAOC Worldwide, as a special and extraordinary opportunity for those participating in the Jubilee celebration. Also during this Divine Liturgy, Father Jamie Aristizabal Gomez was elevated to the rank of Protopresbyter of the Patriarchal Throne and Deacon Felipe was elevated to the office of Protodeacon of the Eparchy. Following a luncheon hosted by the Sisters of St. John of the Cross, at their monastery situated high in the majestic Andes mountains, in the evening Metropolitan Mykhayil presided at a liturgy in another parish neighboring Manizales, where he was also pleased to bestow the special Jubilee Year blessing.

Time was also allotted for several clergy conferences, during which the Metropolitan had the opportunity to address various subjects pertaining to the church in Latin America and in which the clergy and religious were able to ask questions of concern to His Eminence. Through the hospitality of His Excellency, Archbishop Odon Abad, Eparch of South America for the UAOC in the Diaspora, this historical first pastoral visit of a Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church to Colombia was a most beneficial and spiritually fruitful occasion. As always, Metropolitan Mykhayil expressed the love and concern of the Predstoyatel of the entire UAOC, His Beatitude, Metropolitan MEFODIY, for our Ukrainian Orthodox people in every part of the world. This special expression of solidarity between the church in Latin America with the church in Ukraine and the United States, was a significant sign of encouragement and motivation for all in our church of South America. Special greetings were also received from His Excellency, Bishop Paul Peter Jesep, Vicar of the Metropolitan for South America, who has been instrumental in the pastoral work of the Latin American Church in a great variety of ways.

Metropolitan Mykhayil expressed his sentiments regarding the pastoral visit to the South of America in the following words, "My visit to our people in Latin America has truly been a time of grace for the whole church. Not only have I had the opportunity to experience the life of our clergy, faithful and our church here, but it has been a sign of unity between Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox faithful throughout the entire world. Through the inspiration and blessing of our Father in Christ, Metropolitan MEFODIY, whose leadership has provided a visible head for the entire UAOC, the discussions and experiences of this visit will provide a solid foundation for the further growth of our Ukrainian Church among the countries of this region of the world."

His Eminence continued, "I am sincerely grateful to God for this opportunity to be among such a spiritually devout and holy people. For me, it has been a moment of great inspiration and hope which will encourage my archpastoral work for the whole church in the Diaspora for much time to come. I also thank His Beatitude, our Predstoyatel, Metropolitan MEFODIY, for the confidence and trust he has afforded me, in providing leadership and guidance for our Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church outside of Ukraine. I would be remiss is I did not mention the untiring efforts of His Excellency, Archbishop Odon Abad, and the dedicated clergy and religious for the outstanding effort and energy they have put into the building up of the church here and for their great kindness to me during my archpastoral visit. This time spent in Colombia will certainly set a tone for a new evangelization among our parishes throughout Latin America and in the Diaspora as a whole. Praise be to Jesus Christ!"

Under the guidance of Archbishop Odon Abad, and with the blessing of Metropolitan Mykhayil, construction is currently underway for a new and expanded Cathedral Church, seminary, cultural center and episcopal residence in Manizales. The hope is for completion during the first half of the year 2006.

Photos and more information regarding this historical visit follow below. Please run the cursor over each photo to view a caption.


Some clergy and faithful gather in front of the Pereira church before the ordination liturgyCross Bearer and Assistentia lead the procession into the church for the Pontifical LiturgyMetropolitan Mykhayil incenses during the Small Entrance of the Hierarchical Liturgy

His Eminence, Metropolitan Mykhayil Confers the Order of Subdeacon before the Great EntranceThe clergy bring the Holy Gifts to the Metropolitan during the Great EntranceMetropolitan Mykhayil ordains Father Juan Ramirez to the Holy Priesthood in Pereira

A partial view of the congregation during the Pontifical Divine LiturgyClergy hold the Vozdukh (aer) over the hierarchs during the Symbol of FaithMetropolitan Mykhayil bestows the Jubilee Year Blessing at the conclusion of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy

His Eminence, Metropolitan Mykhayil Offers Remarks Following the Ordination LiturgyNewly-ordained Father Juan Ramirez bestows his first priestly blessing upon his family members and the faithfulThe faithful come forward to venerate the Cross and receive Metropolitan Mykhayil's blessing

The Metropolitan joins the clergy and family and friends of the newly-ordained for a celebratory dinner following the ordination LiturgyThe flags of Colombia & Ukraine were an integral part of every procession during the Archpastoral visit - this picture is preceeding Saturday evening VespersMetropolitan Mykhayil incenses the altar after the Small Entrance of Vespers, during O Joyful Light

Catechumens approach the Metropolitan for the Sacrament of CrismationA partial view of the congregation during VespersOver 100 Faithful were Crismated by Vladyka Mykhayil Following Vespers in Manizales

Members of the eparchial cultural ensemble perform selections of traditional Colombian and Ukrainian dancingMusicians perform the indigenous music of the region for the MetropolitanMetropolitan Mykhayil addresses the faithful following Vespers

Vladyka Odon Abad and clergy review the blueprints for the new eparchial complex with the MetropolitanAcolytes and members of the musical ensemble with Metropolitan MykhayilMetropolitan Mykhayil and Protopresbyter Jamie review liturgical texts

The Metropolitan is led in procession into the cathedral church for Sunday's Pontifical Divine LiturgyDuring the Eucharistic Prayer (anaphora) of the Divine Liturgy, the Metropolitan commemorates the Predstoyaltel of the UAOC, His Beatitude, Metropolitan MEFODIYThe Ukrainian and Colombian flags and assistensia lead the Jubilee Year procession following the Hierarchical Liturgy

Faithful representing the various parishes and organizations of the Eparchy carry banners in the Jubilee processionThe Jubilee Year procession (khrestny vkhid) winds through the streets of ManizalesMetropolitan Mykhayil, Archbishop Odon Abad and clergy follow behind the banner bearers at the front of the procession

Arriving at the monastery of the Sisters of St. John of the Cross, His Eminence, Metropolitan Mykhayil greets the Religious SuperiorThe Sisters served a traditional Colombian meal to the Metropolitan and the clergyAnother view of the lunch served by the Sisters, featuring delicious local cuisine

His Eminence, Metropolitan Mykhayil holds a conference for the clergy at the Sisters' monastery, high in the beautiful Andes mountainsThe Metropolitan and Archbishop with the clergy prepare for a service at another parish near ManizalesMetropolitan Mykhayil and Vladyka Odon Abad before the Church of the Mother of God in Pereira

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