Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared regularly in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds BS and MS degrees and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside in Connecticut.
“Come Home for Christmas” is part of the New Evangelization efforts by the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the archeparchy is getting out the message and invitation to as many people as possible using DVDs and YouTube broadcasts.
“Come Home for Christmas” is his effort to reach out not only to Ukrainian Catholics, but to all people.
He calls it his “personal invitation,” one that is “universal for all Christians.”
The five-minute DVD entitled Come Home for Christmas, which the archeparchy produced, features Metropolitan Soroka not only making this heartfelt invitation, but also recapturing in brief the story of Christmas.
He does so in front of the magnificent mosaic triptych of the Nativity, the Birth of Our Lord, in the Ukrainian Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia. As he highlights the different essential parts and people,viewers see each portion of the mosaic in awe and wonder.
Making a journey for Christmas is a major theme.
“The Nativity story is one of journeying and traveling,” says Metropolitan Soroka. “Joseph and Mary were journeying home to Bethlehem to be counted.”
He recalls how the shepherds abiding in the fields “journeyed to the place where the Son of God was born of a Virgin named Mary,” after the angel and heavenly multitude appeared to them, and how the Magi, the Three Kings, “journeyed from afar, guided by the celestial light of a star. They wanted to be in the presence of our God-made-man, Our Emmanuel.”
Many make a journey for Christmas to be with family near or far, to share in the love as they gather around the dinner table.
But Metropolitan Soroka reminds everyone that “the journey does not end here. The journey continues on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day from the holy supper table of the home to the holy supper table of Our Lord in the parish church.”
Like the gentle shepherd, he reminds that it is in church that “the ultimate spiritual dimension and joy of Christmas is experienced,” as “family, friends, neighbors and new visitors gather as a parish family around the holy table of the Lord."
We can be like the shepherds and the Magi coming into the Lord’s presence to worship the newborn King.
“Here, we come to give God our praise, glory and honor,” Metropolitan Soroka says. “Here, we relive his miraculous birth that occurred in Bethlehem some 20 centuries ago. Here, we are reminded that our Eternal God is with us.”
He invites and entreats, “Come home and share his love and his peace with your parish family. Our Eternal God is with us. Let us come home and be with him.”