Ukrainian Catholic Church Welcomes PPC Scouts

On Sunday, March 13, 2022, the Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic Church, Hillside, in Union County, New Jersey, was blessed and honored to have more than 35 Scouts BSA youth and adult leaders from Patriots’ Path Council, BSA, participating in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and praying for Ukraine during this very difficult time.

Scouts from the Pioneer, Skylands and Fishawack districts of Patriots’ Path Council attended, representing troops from Elizabeth, Cranford, Westfield, Summit, Scotch Plains, Rahway, Sparta, Byram and Parsippany.

Several Scout executives were also in attendance, including: National Committee member Deb Reidmiller, Council Executive Vice President Bob Brady, Deputy Scout Executive Jason Dugan, Pioneer District Chair Terence Dwyer and Patriots’ Path Council Executive Board member and Pioneer District Religious Emblems Coordinator Jim Agar.

Before the Divine Liturgy began, the Scouts and the congregation sang “God Bless America.” This song is so deeply moving from a spiritual and patriotic perspective but also due to ties to the Scouting movement. Irving Berlin, the composer of “God Bless America” and his wife truly loved the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA and donated all of the royalties from this song to these Scouting organizations.

A very emotional flag ceremony was performed with the American, Ukrainian and Vatican flags – while several troop flags remained posted nearby. The Ukrainian National Anthem and “The Star Spangled Banner” were sung. Scouts Nicholas Shatynski read the Troparion and Kontakion, Arthur Hrycak read the Prokimenon and Brianna Brady read the Epistle.

Father Vasyl Vladyka tailored the sermon to the Scouts. Father Vasyl gave examples of how the Scouts were truly living the Scout Oath and were role models. Father Vasyl also explained similarities and differences between the Ukrainian Catholic Rite and the Roman Catholic Rite.

The Scouts BSA joined parishioners in singing “The Mournful Mother” during Communion. This solemn and somber song portrays how the Blessed Mother felt while she saw her son Jesus on the cross. This song also evoked great emotion as the Scouts BSA and parishioners reflected on how the mothers in Ukraine today feel of the loss of their sons and daughters dying in this unjust war – but powered by their faith and devotion to God and their country.

After the Divine Liturgy, as is customary during Lent (The Great Fast), the parish held its Sorokousty service during which Father Vasyl read each of the individual names of the deceased that are in the “Scroll Book of the Departed.” The Scouts added individual names of their deceased loved ones, which Fr. Vasyl also individually read, and remembered those who recently died in Ukraine due to the current war. Additionally, the parish added Irving Berlin’s name in appreciation of all that he did for Scouting and to bring unity and patriotism to the United States of America – a gift from Mr. Berlin that continues year after year, decade after decade and has inspired generations of Americans.

The Scouts truly helped the deceased by praying for the repose of their souls and the Scouts also gave alms to the poor in their behalf by collecting and donating funds for the suffering in Ukraine. By their actions, the Scouts truly shined as leaders and role models!

A short talk about the Plast Ukrainian National Scouting organization was held in the church basement while refreshments were served. Plast was founded in 1911 in Lviv as the Ukrainian Scouting Organization. In the USA, branches of Plast USA exist in communities with large numbers of Ukrainian Americans.

This truly was a very touching and spiritual day. Scouts BSA gave a special gift to the parish and all of the suffering in Ukraine. For that, the Hillside parish will be eternally grateful to the Scouts BSA!