13 May 2010, Feastday at Plovdiv

On Thursday, May 13, 2010, on the feast of the Ascension, the patronal feast of the Oriental rite parish administered by the Assumptionist community in Plovdiv, Fr. Peter Ljubas was elevated to the dignity of archimandrite by our bishop, Most Rev. Christo Proykov.

This title of honor is intended to underline the human, spiritual, and moral qualities which a priest has demonstrated in the apostolic service he has rendered to the faithful entrusted to his care.

Bishop Christo Proykov clearly noted in his homily that Fr. Petar, since his arrival in Plovdiv nearly 15 years ago, has succeeded in gaining the respect and gratitude of the faithful as well as of the priests and religious of the entire diocese. Really it should be said that at first Fr. Petar was reluctant to accept the decision of the bishop to confer this honor on him, because, in his humility, he didn't see why he should receive such a distinction.

But what truly defines us is not how we look at ourselves but rather that of the community to which the Lord has called to live and bear witness.


Q Mgr Christo Proykov

And in this regard all of the parishioners who in great numbers attended the solemn celebration  were filled with joy and pride for their much beloved pastor.

This is not rhetoric, joy was truly shared by everyone. The feast of the patron saint was exactly the framework needed to solemnize as it should be this Church event. The Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Bolonek, with some ten priests concelebrated the Divine Liturgy, presided by Msgr. Christo Proykov.

After the procession of the Blessed Sacrament outside the Church, which brought the liturgical celebration to an end (with the joyful participation of the neighboring nursery school children  of Sr. Mariana), Fr. Petar was invited to kneel before the bishop who asked those priests present whether the one being presented was worthy to receive the honor of becoming an archimandrite.
Three times the priests responded that he was. Then Bishop Christo, turning toward the faithful present, again posed the question and the answer was clear, storng, and unanimous: yes, he is worthy.
   It was only once the official decree of nomination was read that people broke out into extended applause. It was a day of great joy for the whole community of Plovdiv, brothers and sisters alike. The  gratitude that people have for the Assumption Family was strongly underlined by the bishop in his homily.
   He observed that Fr. Peter's elevation to the honor of archmandrite followed a long tradition.  As a matter of fact, other Assumptionists have been called to the same honor in the past:  Fr. Ivan Vitchev (brother of Fr . Kamen), Fr. Velik Vitchev (nephew of Fr. Kamen), and Fr. Gorazd Kourtev.
The Apostolic Nuncio assured Fr. Petar  that he had the blessing and prayers of the Holy Father; then in his short homily in French he drew attention to the fact that the Ascension of the Lord into Heaven opened the doors of heaven  to all Christians and that since then heaven and earth have not been separated,  but joined.
   And what did Fr. Petar tell us?    Quite moved before, during and after the ceremony, he simply thanked everyone and, making reference to the feast of the Ascension of the Lord,  he invited us to pray that his "elevation" to the ranks of the archimandrite might also be a step toward heaven.
















la croix pectorale du Père Petar



What are the charcteristic signs of an archimandrite?Above all, the "kalimiafka" (black hat with a large veil which descends to the shoulders), the pectoral cross, and the epigonation in the form of a losange, worn on the hip, which symbolizes spiritual weapons, recalling the battle and victory over death which Christ won.
   On this May 13, the entire Assumption Family was honored and faithful Catholics of Bulgaria  showed their gratitude for our presence among them. It was a particularly wonderful day for the "Eastern European Mission." 
The entire community of Plovdiv, brothers and sisters, were united in a particular way, in prayer, with  the Assumptionist Greco-Catholic community of Blaj in Romania.
   Those who have known Fr. Petar during these past 15 years that he has been in Bulgaria know how much he loves the "East" and that is the very reason those in the East love him

The elevation to the dignity of archimandrite certainly marks  a point of no-return, that is to say, that from now on Fr. Petar has been definitively rooted in then Catholic Church of the Eastern rite and this means, to use an expression that is dear to him, that he has become for all time a 'true Catholic.'