Christine Dochwat Receives Order of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky
On November 14, icon painter Christine Dochwat was inducted into the Order of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Metropolitan Borys Gudziak led the ceremony and presented the award on behalf of Patriarch Sviatoslav and the bishops of the Synod. Dochwat is the fourth laureate of the Order of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, the highest honor in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Dochwat created the iconostasis and mosaics in the Cathedral, which celebrates the 55th anniversary of its consecration this year. She has worked on nearly eighty churches throughout the United States, and her iconography may be found in Rome and in Kyiv as well.
“For long-term and extremely fruitful work in the field of church painting, which culminated in the painting of iconostasis, individual cycles of icons, mosaics, and frescoes for more than seventy Christian churches; for a deep personal Christian life and testimony of faith, for a service to the Church, and moral authority recognized by the Church and society,” reads the award letter signed by His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk.
“Mrs. Christine Dochwat spent more time in this church than many others. Each of these stones is laid by her hand. Look at the Mother of God who is standing in front of us with a warm gesture and a blessed look,” stressed Metropolitan Borys during the ceremony. He noted that Dochwat’s style can be recognized in the faces depicted but also in the decoration, noted for its beauty, impeccable filigree, and innovative style.
“We thank you for your prayer because icon painting is first and foremost a spiritual act. In all the churches you have worked, your art will call for prayer and union with the Lord for centuries to come, God willing. May this honor, given to you today by the head of our Church, bring you peace and joy,” continued the Archbishop.
In her short acceptance speech, Christine Dochwat thanked God and the Church. “Thank God for the talent He gave me that I was able to contribute to decorating all of these churches,” she said.
In a comment for the Philadelphia Archeparchy’s Communications Service, she noted being absolutely surprised by the award. “It is a great honor and privilege for me because I never thought or dreamed about it. The most important thing for me is that my work can motivate people to pray. When people pray in front of an icon, it is not my work, it is God’s work.”
Dochwat also remarked that working on the Cathedral was a pleasure for her. “The most important [parts] were the iconostasis and the mosaic of the Mother of God, and the side mosaics are a later idea, because architects and the Archbishop at the time originally planned that there would be side iconostases.” When asked if it was scary to work in such a large cathedral, she laughed: “No, I’m not afraid of heights.”
Christine Dochwat was born in Ukraine in 1934, moved to the West with her family in 1944, and has lived in the United States since 1947. She studied at Saint Basil Academy in Jenkintown near Philadelphia before graduating from the College of Fine Arts (Sarasota, FL) in 1952. She took another degree at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 1956 and began working in the field of iconography that same year. From 1956 to 2006 Dochwat created iconostasis, separate cycles of icons, frescoes, and mosaics for close to eighty American churches.