Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka Opens the Holy Doors of the Cathedral during Year of Mercy in Philadelphia
Philadelphia , PA- On Sunday, February 28, 2016, a special 10am Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Golden Domed Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia, PA during the Jubilee Year of Mercy inaugurated by His Holiness Pope Francis. Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka was the main celebrant and homilist during the Divine Liturgy. Other celebrants included: Very Rev. Joseph Szupa, Rev. Walter Pasicznyk, Rev. Roman Sverdan, Rev. D. George Worshak, Rev. John Fields, Deacon Michael Waak, and Subdeacon Roman Oprysk.
Immediately before the Little Entrance during the Divine Liturgy, Very Rev. Joseph Szupa, Cathedral Rector, explained to the faithful that it was a special Sunday in the Archeparchy of Philadelphia because it was the official opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Father Szupa said the central doors will be consistently opened throughout the year as it is requested by Pope Francis until the middle of December this year. Father Szupa said those central doors, those Holy Doors, will be opened to be a “symbol of God’s ever present mercy and forgiveness.”
Father Szupa led the faithful in reading points 13 and 14 in “The Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy” written by Pope Francis. The recitation ended with the quote, “By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.”
The Opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy began with a procession with the Holy Gospel Book from the sanctuary to the vestibule during the Little Entrance as the choir chanted the third antiphon.
Metropolitan Stefan recited a prayer at the Holy Door surrounded by the faithful in the vestibule of the Cathedral. Metropolitan Stefan opened the Holy Doors chanting Psalm 118:19,20. Metropolitan Stefan exclaimed, “O Almighty Lord and God: open the gates of Your justice so that we may enter and give You thanks; as this is the Lord’s Gate! Let us enter through it and obtain mercy and forgiveness!”
Metropolitan Stefan passed through the Holy Doors along with the Clergy and blessed Holy Water that was prepared on a table in the back of the Cathedral. The faithful then passed through the Holy Doors as Metropolitan Stefan sprinkled Holy Water on the Church and the Faithful. Father Szupa explained earlier that the sprinkling of Holy Water is a sign of God’s Blessing and Mercy.
Gathered at the tetrapod, Metropolitan Stefan led the faithful in praying the Prayer of Pope Francis for the Year of Mercy in both Ukrainian and English languages. At this time, the Liturgy continued as usual. Since this was the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, the third Sunday of Lent, Metropolitan Stefan venerated a cross decorated with carnations.
During his homily, Metropolitan Stefan said, “Today and every time you and I enter the doors of the Cathedral, we enter as people who need mercy and strength.” Metropolitan Stefan said, “Celebrate the year of mercy throughout the year with Pope Francis and the whole church. Choose to live with greater humility with others. Choose to be extra kind and forgiving of others.” Metropolitan Stefan ended his homily saying, “Let’s leave the Cathedral today and always as people of hope, people who give joyful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy after venerating the cross on the tetrapod, Very Rev. Joseph Szupa congratulated Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka on his 15 Anniversary as being installed as our Metropolitan for the Archeparchy of Philadelphia, and the faithful sang Mnohaya Lita to Metropolitan Stefan.
Video 1 – Introduction
Video 2 – Blessing of Holy Doors
Video 3 – Homily offered by Metropolitan Stefan
Video 4 – Metropolitan Stefan's 15th Anniversary