340 miles in 4 days – the goal of bicycle riders of FREEDOM FOR UKRAINE Ride, who embarked on the journey in order to spread awareness about the war in Ukraine.
Starting in the Garden State (New Jersey), the Ride Team is scheduled to stop at various Ukrainian centers and religious communities, seeking solidarity with the people and nation of Ukraine – finally arriving to Washington, DC on Sunday, the 22nd of May.
The first stop for the Cycling Team was South Bound Brook/Somerset, NJ – the home of the Spiritual Center – Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. As a group of 20 cyclists arrived, the church bells of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church rang, welcoming the group of volunteers and friends that took upon themselves such a charity-oriented task.
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, spiritual father of the UOC of the USA, Archbishop Daniel, assisted by 30 some people – employees and volunteers of the Metropolia Center, welcomed the group of riders with the words of profound respect and gratitude for the charitable efforts - raising funds to help with the continuing humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine.
Following the formal words of welcome, the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary, dressed in their Ukrainian embroidered shirts – thus marking the International Ukrainian Embroidery Day, sang the anthem of Ukraine during which several people in attendance wiped tears as their rolled on their faces.
Standing on the steps of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church – the very first monument in North America dedicated to the memory of the innocent victims of Genocidal Famine in Ukraine of 1932-1933, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, assisted by Very Rev. Fr, Yuriy Siwko (pastor of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, NJ), Rev. Fr. Vasyl Pasakas (pastor of the Nativity of the Birth-Giver of God Ukrainian Orthodox parish in South Plainfield, NJ), Rev. Fr. Vasyl Shak (pastor of St. Panteleimon Ukrainian Orthodox Mission in Brooklyn, NY), Rev. Fr. Ivan Tchopko, Rev. Fr. Andrii Drapak, Rev. Fr. Myroslav Mykytyuk (St. Sophia UOC Seminary) offered a Prayer for Ukraine in the time of war, concluding with the words of archpastoral blessing for those who embarked on the journey of spreading the words of Truth about the atrocities perpetrated by the Russian aggression against the peace-loving people of Ukraine.
Vladyka Daniel addressed Mr. Ihor Mulyk, organizer of the Ride, and the group of 20 cyclists, encouraging them to be the people of prayer as they journey and witness to the Truth about the lives of innocent Ukrainians, slaughtered by the actions of the Russian Aggressor. Archbishop stated that "...there is a variety of frontlines of life that we all are participants of. There are soldiers in the field, that fight for the freedom and independence; there are medics that fight for the lives of the injured; there are priests and clergy that guide us through the battles with the evil of our spiritual life; there are people like all of us – that do what we can in order to help, assist and change the world for the better of ALL humanity..."
Water, Gatorade drinks and snacks were offered to the participants of FREEDOM FOR UKRAINE Ride, wishing them a safe journey to the nation’s capital – Washington, DC.
Photos by Fr. Vasyl Pasakas, Subdeacon Yaroslav Bilohan, Subdeaco nPavlo Vysotskyi and Dobrodiyka Oksana Pasakas