A priest in Sadov: Despite pressure, I firmly decided not to concede schism

Archpriest Vladimir Meles, rector of the persecuted UOC community in Sadov. Photo: pravoslavna.volyn.ua

Archpriest Vladimir Meles, rector of the persecuted community of the UOC in Sadov, believes it his duty to stay and pray in whatever possible conditions.

When the priest of the UOC in Sadov, Volyn region, Archpriest Vladimir Meles, was offered to transfer to the OCU, his position was unchanged – he would not join any schism and would not leave the canonical Church. The rector of the persecuted community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in honor of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, which was one of the first to be left without a church as a result of a raider seizure, said this in an interview with the newspaper Dzvony Volyni, the text of which was published on the website of the Volyn Diocese of the UOC on June 8.

The clergyman noted that the "brainwashing" of the villagers in order to get them to join the OCU started long before the granting of the Tomos to the OCU, and he himself was warned that the temple in Sadov was the first on the list for seizure. It is sad that this process was initiated by one of the church choristers, who is also a deputy director of the village school for educational work.

“At Christmas 2019, instead of glorifying Christ the Savior, these people, the initiators, came by to collect signatures about the transition,” the priest said. “Traditionally, it was not only members of the church community that signed up, but those who had nothing to do with the village at that time, because they were either working abroad or did not live there but were only natives of the village. We collected as many as 500 signatures in this way, and already on January 10, a delegation of activists invited me to move to a new Ukrainian church. It was a kind of the whole village is already following me, so I just need to follow the people. However, my position was firm – I will not join the schismatic structure. Whatever happens, I will not leave the canonical Church ..."

Father Vladimir, whom the OCU activists have been trying to drive away from the village since the seizure of the church, intimidating both the priest and his family and members of the religious community, noted that all these events only strengthened the faith of the UOC worshipers. Faith is not only about a temple being just walls without God.

Despite all the problems, the priest emphasized, his duty as a priest and pastor is not to abandon his herd to be devoured by wolves, but to stay and pray in the conditions in which it is now possible.

At the same time, the persecuted community, which moved to pray to the church house where Fr. Vladimir’s family live, does not give up and intends to build a new church for themselves. In addition, the judgment of God was there before long – many of those who cut the locks on the temple in Sadov are no longer alive.

Recall that in April 2021, supporters of the OCU broke windows and threw sewage at the priest's house of the UOC in Sadov.

As a result, the priest's grandson was injured: now the child is afraid to sleep at night and is worried about another possible attack by the "OCU bandits".

The UOJ also wrote that following the court's decision not in favor of the OCU, activists who were trying to evict Fr. Vladimir Meles and his family from their home in Sadov, started provocations against his lawyer.

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