Voices from Russia

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Parishioners Find Miracle After Fire at Ukrainian Orthodox Church

00 Ukrainian Orthodox fire. Philadelphia PA USA. 31.10.13


Parishioners of a Philadelphia Ukrainian Orthodox church say that the four-alarm fire that destroyed millions of dollars in furniture and artefacts and left a gaping hole in the centre of the historic building also revealed a miracle. Pasha Prasko, St Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church treasurer and parishioner, said, “The fire was blazing, so when we saw the fire, we thought everything burned, but now that we can see inside, we looked at it and said it’s amazing so many icons are still there”. Although a large portion of the church’s roof collapsed and more than 100 firefighters doused the building in water to tame the blaze, several icons remained untouched by the flames at the historic house of worship in the East Oak Lane section of the city on Sunday. Prasko said, “It’s a holy place, you know, and it’s just not damaged the way we thought it would be. We even talked about it yesterday and said it’d be a miracle if her icon would be saved; and, here it is, saved. I think it’s a miracle”.

According to local historian Marita Krivda Poxon, Ukrainian Orthodox consider St Mary the Protectress the protector of all Ukrainian people. From the front door of the burned building, one could see a large painting of the Protectress and several other artefacts in what appeared to be good condition. Poxon said, “The church has a large icon, and in the centre of it is the Saint Mary the Protectress herself. Apparently, she was the saint in the Ukraine that protected the people of the country of the Ukraine. I think it’s a miracle that a few of the icons survived because they are mostly made of wood. I could only say that, for believers, they’ll believe that it miraculously survived the fire; I mean, the church burned, but her icon survived, and the congregation will survive. That’s what it means to me”.

Philadelphia Firefighter Arthur Davis said he’s never seen anything like it before, saying, “Not one of those pictures caught on fire; not the ones on the wall, not the ones on the stage, not one of them was damaged. What happened was it started on the roof, the fire. But it’s still amazing that with the collapse and all, this stuff isn’t burned. They could take it right off the wall; a lot of the pictures are still on the wall, the glass isn’t broken or nothing. When it comes to fires, I’ve seen it all, but I’ve never seen nothing like this before”. At one point, 125 firefighters and 33 engines were on the scene trying to get the fire under control. Officials still don’t know what caused the fire, but they believe that it was an electrical fault.

Fr Taras Naumenko, pastor of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral on 5th and Independence Street, says his parish would support St Mary’s members as its leaders work to determine a plan forward, noting, “Their congregation will be holding their services at my parish until they figure out their future”. When asked what he thinks the future could hold for St Mary’s, he said, “I think it’s too soon to even think about what their future will be”. John Prasko is chairman of the parish board. He says the church is considering starting a fund to raise money, but says he’s still unsure of any exact plans for rebuilding, saying, “Tomorrow, we’ll have a meeting with the board to see what we’ll do. At that time, we’ll have to make several decisions about moving and rebuilding, but I don’t know exactly what they’ll be yet”. Poxon says any attempt to rebuild would be difficult because of the historic elements of the church, noting, “The interior could never be rebuilt the way it was. My hope is that they don’t tear it down, that they don’t bulldoze it, and, somehow, portions of it can be salvaged and rebuilt because it’s a beautiful building. There are just so few stone masons that could even do the work to rebuild here”. This afternoon, firefighters were still on the scene removing debris from the premises. Davis said that they’d allow church leaders to enter the building to retrieve artefacts and mementos sometime this evening.

28 October 2013

NBC 10 Philadelphia


Editor’s Note:

These guys may have goofy politics, and they’re soft on (and collaborate overly much with) Uniates, but they’re still part of the Orthosphere (whether they want to be or not). Send ‘em a fin or two, if you can. Here’s the contact info:

Telephone: (215) 424-9692

You can also try the folks at St Vladimir Cathedral, they could steer you right. Click here for their contact page.

Give ‘em a hand. They need it. You don’t ask what someone’s ideology is when something like this happens. Either we’re all Orthodox or none of us are Orthodox. ‘Nuff said!


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