On Sunday, December 1, 2013.about 65 parishioners gathered for a festive and incisive catechetical program to ready the parish for the great celebration of the Nativity of Christ In the church hall which was decorated with the nativity Icon and tables decorated with poinsettias, the parishioners enjoyed a wonderful lunch as they conversed about their preparations for the holiday as well as their Thanksgiving celebration.
The program then began when our pastor Father Ivan Turyk asked the participants to recall the following: As you enter the church of Assumption Ukrainian Catholic Church in Perth Amboy, N.J. you see in the Nave of the Church surrounding the altar in a half circle on the left the various prophets from the Old Testament. On the opposite side of the half circle on the right, are pictured the saints of the New Testament. The center of these half circles is God the Father, then streaming from Him, a dove, the Holy Spirit, radiating to the Blessed Mother and then Christ and His apostles.
Once the participants of this Generations of Faith program titled “God is with Us” were immersed in the setting, Mrs. Helen Cheloc began the presentation in English with translations by Mrs. Alla Korostil in Ukrainian. The presentation centered on how the world was changed on that first Holy Night; and yet, the foundations for that change were set for thousands of years prior to that event. The theme of trust, humility and love were explored as they related to the world changing event 2013 years ago. The large Nativity Icon was featured and the writings of it were incorporated into the program.
As has been the custom of the previous GOF gatherings, parishioners had questions at their tables to discuss. The following five questions were decided upon by the GOF committee.
1. How do you keep the true meaning of Christmas alive in your home and how does it compare with the ways in which society tries to commercialize and secularize the meaning of Christmas?
2. What can we as Catholics do to keep the true meaning of Christmas alive?
3. Has saying “yes” to Christ transformed your life?
4. What role does the Christmas Eve Supper and caroling play in your family? Why are the traditions still kept in your family?
5. If you were with the Magi what would you bring to the baby Jesus on that first Christmas night?
After table discussions, a spokesperson from every table presented a short synopsis of their discussion with translations presented so everyone could benefit from the insights. The group was ready for two of the youngest parishioners that Sister Yosaphata prepared to explain the nativity story by putting together a crèche while the story of the First Christmas was read. The concluding remarks were summarized with good recommendations by the participants. A young lady recently from Ukraine shared with the participants the need for extra prayer and fasting as well more acts of charity during this Advent season, while a Senior citizen that has been a parishioner for over 65 years stated that the elderly, the shut in, the neglected and the military should be remembered especially during this season. The program was ended with the singing by everyone of the verse from the Nativity vespers “God is with us”- Z Namu Boh.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav in his pastoral letter “The Vibrant Parish” reflects on the importance of the Word of God by saying “Permanent and continuous formation for various age groups-children, youth, adults and the elderly is an essential component of the vibrant parish”. The Generation of Faith presentations at Assumption Ukrainian Catholic Church address all age groups that are represented and it provides an opportunity for a deeper knowledge of the faith.
Likewise, in accordance with the same pastoral letter encouraging serving one’s neighbor, the Parish raised over $1,600.00, for the victims of the hurricane in the Philippines, and the women’s group of the Parish, St. Ann’s Society have donated $500.00 to the building of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Spain. Both of these causes are continents apart from Perth Amboy, New Jersey, but the parishioners are trying to adhere to the teaching of the pastoral letter “This service to our neighbor flows from our rootedness in Christ”.