200-year-old church seized by schismatics stands empty, canonical community continues to grow

Strelchintsy, Vinnitsa Province, Ukraine, August 10, 2021

Photo: 1ua.com.ua Photo: 1ua.com.ua     

Three years after the schismatics of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople’s “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” seized the Church of the Prophet Elijah in the village of Strelchinsty, Vinnitsa Province, Ukraine, the 19th-century church stands empty.

Conversely, the canonical community, which now serves outside, only continues to grow.

Such an unfortunate situation serves to further demonstrate that the schismatics of the OCU are motivated by enmity rather than any kind of spiritual needs.

“It’s painful that a church with a 200-year history stands empty,” Archpriest Pavel Petlevany told the Union of Orthodox Journalists.

The violent schismatics have effectively divided the village, Fr. Pavel said, noting that the supporters of the OCU even insist on going to different stores than the Orthodox faithful.

“We serve in the church courtyard. In the summer, nightingales sing along with the choir, and in the winter—a frosty wind. But the parish has not only been preserved, but it has grown,” the priest said.

“Even the children of parishioners who came from Germany went to the Great Procession in Kiev with us,” he added.

The community continues to fight for its church in the courts. There have already been 16 court sessions, but they continue to hope in the rule of law.

As Fr. Pavel told the Union, the schismatics used the church only 5 times in 2019, and not a single time last year. A priest visited once this year, but he refused to serve when only three schismatic parishioners showed up.

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