United with Ukraine: The Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma Held the Eparchial Youth Days

The youth, young adult leaders, volunteers, and clergy of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma gathered together on Friday and Saturday, June 10-11, 2022 at the Breakneck Campground of Cheeseman Farm in Portersville, Pennsylvania for the Eparchial Youth Days.

The theme of this year’s event was “Rejoicing in the Hope of the Lord,” based on the verse taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer” (Romans 12:12 (NRSVCE)). The Eparchial Youth Days – led by Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo, Eparch of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma – was organized by the Eparchial Youth Committee (EYC) under the leadership of Fr. Lubomir Zhybak, the committee’s head and pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH and St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, OH as well as the eparchy’s Safe Environment Coordinator and the following EYC members: Joseph Levy of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, PA and Michael Levy of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, PA who coordinated the event and who were aided by Victoria Freed from Sts. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ambridge, PA and Olena Korendii from the Pokrova Ukrainian Catholic Church in Parma, OH. The event provided an opportunity for the youth to pray, reflect, and meet others in the spirit of the Ukrainian Catholic faith and fellowship.

The group was welcomed with warm hospitality by members of the Cheeseman family, proprietors of Cheeseman Farm.  The Cheeseman Farm camp site is located near the McConnell’s Mill State Park.  The camp site offers rustic cabins, hiking trails, and scenic vistas.

The two-day event began on Friday evening with a Ninth Hour prayer service, which was led by Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo, who also welcomed everyone to the event that was followed by a tasty pizza dinner.  Afterwards, the first presentation was provided by Fr. Kevin Bezner, pastor of Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke Ukrainian Catholic Mission in Arden, NC and the Dormition of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Mission in the Greater Greenville area (South Carolina).  Fr. Kevin discussed Romans 12:12 and provided insights into how to live a life in Christ – embracing suffering, struggling in ascetism, and placing all hope in the Lord. The evening concluded with a bon-fire.  The youth and adults present engaged in fellowship and even had some delicious campfire s’mores!

Saturday morning began with a breakfast and The Third Hour prayer service led by Fr. Kevin Bezner. Following the prayer, Fr. Kevin presented the second installment of his talks.  He discussed the nature of sin, passions, and repentance delivered in a relaxed and accessible tone.  Fr. Kevin also presented an examination of conscience that was followed by an opportunity for individual confessions that were provided by the present clergy – Bishop Bohdan, Fr. Lubomir Zhybak, and Fr. Kevin Bezner.

The youth enjoyed the beautiful weather and had an opportunity to play outdoor games, take a hike down to the nearby creek, and participate in a challenging and enjoyable “Scavenger Hunt” game.  The participants had a chance to cool off in the warm sun with a foam party!  Music was played as the youth danced, ran through, and played games in the foam.

The youth also took part in a service project coordinated by Olena Korendii and Theresa Levy of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, PA. The youth prepared cards and crafts for the soldiers in Ukraine currently fighting the Russian aggressors.  Messages of support and care were conveyed and the cards are to be delivered to Ukraine during the upcoming weeks or so.

The evening concluded with a Vespers “prayer-hike” led by Bishop Bohdan.  The youth and adults present sang the Vespers service as they walked through the tree-lined paths of Cheeseman Farm and McConnell’s Mill State Park.  Before heading home, the youth were treated to a second pizza dinner and were given a warm farewell by the Cheeseman family.

This year’s Eparchial Youth Days event was a wonderful and prayerful experience for the youth of the eparchy.  We are looking forward to next year’s event in June 2023!

Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma