DOMINICAN REPUBLIC PARISH RECEIVED INTO THE METROPOLIA
Father Amvrosij Bozzo with some of the faithful of St. Nicholas Church, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
PUERTO PLATA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: The Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, located in the Dominican Republic has requested and received acceptance into the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church of North & South America.
In a letter from the pastor, Fr. Amvrosij Bozzo, the Orthodox people of the Puerto Plata parish asked to be canonically accepted into the Metropolia, maintaining their long ties to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Father Amvrosij was originally a priest of the Kyiv Patriarchate, during the tenure of His Holiness, Patriarch Volodymyr, predecessor of the current Patriarch Filaret. Born in Italy, Fr. Bozzo was assigned to minister to the Orthodox people in the Dominican Republic and, after the death of Patriarch Volodymyr, became a priest of the Archdiocese of His Eminence, Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, senior hierarch in North America, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate.
Wishing to maintain their loyalty to the Ukrainian Church, Father Amvrosij and his community have expressed their deepest gratitude to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Stephan and His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, for receiving them into the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in the USA.
Metropolitan Stephan, Primate of the UAOC in the USA, sent his Archpastoral blessing to the people in Puerto Plata. His Beatitude stated that the parish's request is an important indication of the fruit of the labors of historical Ukrainian Orthodox leaders, who have left a lasting impression of many of the people that they served.
". . . We can never allow the efforts of our departed Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchs to be in vain, by compromising even the smallest detail of our spiritual heritage and religious freedom."
The Metropolitan emphasized this important connection, saying, "We are grateful to God for the opportunity to provide episcopal leadership to this dedicated and spiritually joyful community. The long historical connection between St. Nicholas parish and our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church was planted firmly, with solid roots. These humble and deeply religious people should serve as an example for our Ukrainian people everywhere, in maintaining loyalty to their church. The labors of our departed Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchs, can never be allowed to fade into history, as the church moves forward in time. One most important quality that Ukrainian Orthodox people must maintain is faithfulness to the sacrifices and hard work on the part of our late spiritual leaders, including Patriarchs Volodymyr and Mystyslav. They labored tirelessly to instill in the people, a great love and devotion to our Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the principles upon which it is founded. We can never allow their efforts to be in vain, by compromising even the smallest detail of our spiritual heritage and religious freedom."
Archbishop Michael, the eparchial bishop for parishes in the Americas and Coadjutor to Metropolitan Stephan, complimented His Beatitude's words by adding, "Now more than ever, our Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church stands as a bright beacon of religious freedom, void of the chains of ecclesiastical totalitarianism which most people in the twenty-first century rightfully see as oppressive and stifling. Our democratic theology of the church speaks more clearly to the minds of many today, who look to the church to be a living extension of the Gospel, not seeking to marginalize its members by using methods attained from a model of the church that is equated with imperialism and the subjugation of the faithful to the unquestioned whims of the hierarchy. We live in a free society, not the Byzantine Empire and the church should reflect the conditions in which its members live, not struggle to preserve ideals of power and religious terrorism, from a time which has proved itself ineffective, both in civil government and ecclesiastical structure. Sometimes, sadly, the church is the last vestige of a system that secular society has long disposed of as oppressive to people. Actually, by working within the boundaries of sobornopravnist, the church can ensure that it is more faithful to the teachings of our Lord, who did not envision his disciples as subjects to a imperial institution, but as the children of God, blessed because of their freedom to live according to his will. We assure all of our people, especially those in our new parish in the Dominican Republic, that the right of the people to Christian freedom, the ability to form one's own conscience in accordance with their faith, grounded by scriptural values, will always be served in this Metropolia. The voice of the people will always be heard."
". . . by working within the boundaries of sobornopravnist, the church can ensure that it is more faithful to the teachings of our Lord, who did not envision his disciples as subjects to a imperial institution, but as the children of God, blessed because of their freedom to live according to his will."
May God grant to Fr. Amvrosij and the parishioners of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Church many more happy and blessed years in service to God and our Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
The Exterior of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Church, Puerto Plata
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