- Only a few structures still stand in what was Centralia, Pennsylvania. Even fewer are visible through the tree cover from the top of an adjacent mountain overlooking what was once a thriving community.

The most notable and recognizable structure is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, whose bright-blue domes rise out of the foliage on the side of the mountain. Though all but seven of the town’s residents relocated because of the ongoing fire in the anthracite coal mine below its surface, the church continues to serve a successful parish.

On Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, the church was the site of the second annual “A Call to Prayer” pilgrimage. Two years ago, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Sviatoslav Shevchuk visited the church and suggested it as a place for pilgrimage. He marveled at the beauty of the property, the number of vocations from the parish, its rich history in Centralia, and qualities about it that are endearing to prayer and a place for gathering.


“Father [Michael] Hutsko, the pastor here … He was enthusiastic about it. He arranged it with the parishioners,” said Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka. “A tremendous amount of work went into it, but it’s all joyous work on their part …. Isn’t that the best gift? That you not only pray for your own needs but you provide for the journey of faith of others.”

A few hundred pilgrims traveled from as far as Washington, D.C.; New Brunswick, New Jersey; and Philadelphia to focus on their spiritual lives for the afternoon in Centralia. People crowded into the church and out onto the grounds for divine liturgy with Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka as the main celebrant.

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Teachings of Christ

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)


Today is the fountainhead of our salvation, * and the revelation of an eternal mystery: * The Son of God becomes the Son of a Virgin, * and Gabriel announces the good news of grace. * Therefore, let us also cry with him to the Mother of God: * "Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

To you, O Mother of God, our leader and defender, * we, your servants, delivered from calamity, offer hymns of victory and thanksgiving. * So you, who have invincible might, * set us free from every peril * that we may cry to you: * "Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!" (Kontakion, Tone 8)

Random Proverb

"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest." (Proverbs 6:6-8 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The soul that really loves God and Christ, though it may do ten thousand righteousnesses, esteems itself as having wrought nothing, by reason of its insatiable aspiration after God. Though it should exhaust the body with fastings, with watchings, its attitude towards the virtues is as if it had not yet even begun to labour for them.

St. Macarius the Great