An event that was both inspiring and joyous recently took place at St. Basil Church in Edmonton. On Sept. 13 Brother Agapey Lutsyk, OSBM, made his profession of vows in the Order of St. Basil the Great of St. Josaphat.
Solemn Profession is the rite at which a brother makes a lifelong commitment to the order. It takes place in the context of a divine liturgy and is generally presided over by the provincial superior, in this case Rev. Gabriel Haber, OSBM.
Arriving at the altar, Brother Agapey made three great prostrations to the floor, then lay face down in the form of a cross. As a troparion was sung, he was completely covered with a black cloth, symbolizing death to the world. After being uncovered, the profession began with a dialogue between Father Gabriel and Brother Agapey in which formal questions were posed concerning the candidate’s willingness to make the vow and enter monastic life permanently. With this concluded, the Solemn Vow was made.
I Brother Agapey Lutsyk of the Order of Saint Basil the Great, solemnly vow to the Lord God, one in the Holy Trinity, and to you most Reverend Father Provincial Superior, who are the representative of our Lord and God: poverty, chastity, an obedience in this order, and I promise to remain in it firmly until death. I also promise to the Universal Pontiff and Vicar of Christ, my unceasing faithfulness and subordination, and that I will not seek high office in the order nor in the church. May God help me and this Holy Gospel.
After the Gospel reading, Father Gabriel gave a homily directed not only at Brother Agapey, but the main congregation as well. In tone, it was not unlike a father of the bride’s speech welcoming his new son-in-law into the family. “Today you make a life commitment to the Order of St. Basil the Great. Undoubtedly you may be experiencing some fear and apprehension. Anyone who would come to a ceremony like this without some fear and great soul-searching has not realized what a life commitment is about.”
“You have been with our order for seven years. We know you with your strengths and failings. You know us with our strengths and failings. But put aside your fears. You are responding to God’s call, which is his gift to you. We, the Basilians, thank God for your vocation and for enriching the order with the life commitment you make to us today. God has chosen you and called you to life in the Basilian Order. Never doubt the sincerity of heart and soul you bring to the commitment you are about to make.”
Father Gabriel continued by speaking of the charism the order, which is a gift from God to the church for the world. As with all Basilians, Brother Agape is now a steward of the charism with a duty to pass it on to future generations. “The core value of the Basilian charism is contemplation and apostolic work. Contemplation understood as an intimate relationship with God in Jesus Christ. A relationship which overflows into a prayerful and fraternal life in which we seek to serve our neighbour and that is expressed through our apostolic work and service. Contemplation calls us to be intimate friends with God and to allow that friendship with God to influence and shape how we live our lives.”
“The call to community is central to our way of life. While our Rule puts great emphasis on private space and each member having his own cell, it also calls us to leave our personal space and to come to community. Fraternity involves companionship. Fraternity demands we must be attentive and caring toward those with whom we live. We must strive to achieve open and honest dialogue with each other. We must be genuinely concerned for the physical, psychological and spiritual well-being of one another. We must be present to one another, sharing meals as well as prayers, recreation as well as work.”
“Today, brother, you say ‘Yes’ to God as he calls you to a vowed and consecrated life. The Lord’s reassuring words addressed to the Apostle Paul are addressed to you today: ‘My grace is enough for you, my power is at its best in weakness.’ God is calling you to love and serve him in a religious community, that is, together with others whose way of life, ideals and aspirations you will make your own.”
“Make the gift of yourself to God and to your Basilian brothers and consequently to the Basilian community freely and wholeheartedly. Throw in your lot with us. May your lifelong journey as a Basilian be adventurous, fulfilling and enriching. May you hear God’s call afresh each day and respond with courage and generousity.”
After divine liturgy, and the inevitable photo session, Brother Agapey, along with the many Basilian priests and brothers who came to welcome him into the community, joined St. Basil parishioners for breakfast in the Cultural Centre. In a short but sincere speech Brother Agapey thanked both clergy and parishioners for their prayers and support. Although none of his family were able to travel from Ukraine to participate, Brother Agapey could hardly have felt alone. On that wonderful day he was blessed with two new families — the Basilian Order and the many parishioners who he might one day serve.
Kostyniuk, who lives in Edmonton, has a bachelor of theology from Newman and is a freelance writer. He and his wife Bev have been married for 37 years and have eight grandchildren.