Pray for peace and justice for Ukraine

 An Appeal of the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops of the United States:

 

“Pray for peace and justice for Ukraine. 

Be informed. 

Support the suffering.”

 

                      “Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him” (Mt 2,13)

In our Eastern Christian Christmas traditions, we rejoice and celebrate that “God is with us,” singing the praises of the Prince of Peace in hymns and carols. Yet as we reread the Nativity account, we encounter the homelessness of the Mother of God, the anguish of Joseph, and the refugee status of the newborn Jesus. Herod appears, a homicidal tyrant craving hegemony, who massacres innocent children in Bethlehem in order to kill the Messiah— a vivid image of the lust for power. Herod’s determination to dominate was so overpowering that he even murdered three of his own sons. The Holy Infant bringing salvation to all was a menace to a tyrant pathetically clinging to his self-importance.

During the Christmas season, some 100,000 Russian troops have been positioned on three sides of Ukraine: a nascent democracy, a country on a pilgrimage to freedom and dignity from the fear of a totalitarian past in which 15 million people were killed on Ukrainian territory.

Today, the world watches and wonders: Are religious liberty, a free press, a robust public debate, and accountable government in a sovereign state to be punished through the escalation of an invasion that began in 2014? Is the Ukrainian people’s exercise of their God-given dignity a threat to a modern Herod’s thirst for power and hegemony?

This is a question of life and death, as nostalgia for an empire lost has led to senseless slaughter and immense suffering throughout Ukraine.

God-given human dignity and freedom threaten rulers who seek to dominate others, build empires, enslave, and colonize. Those with the audacity to resist, who dare to move from the fear of totalitarianism to freedom and dignity are mercilessly punished.

“A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.” (Mt 2,18) After eight years of war initiated by Russia, Ukraine has lost a substantial part of its territory.14,000 people, including children, have been killed, 1.5 million have been internally displaced, several hundred thousand agonize near the frontline, and millions suffer from post-traumatic stress. There are 400,000 traumatized Ukrainian veterans of the Russian war and thousands who have lost their loved-ones.

How long will this continue? How many more shattered families, destitute widows and orphans, grieving parents and grandparents? How many more destroyed churches, mosques, and synagogues, schools and hospitals, roads and bridges, homes and apartment buildings, factories and airports? How many more homeless, jobless, and impoverished millions forced to flee their country? How much more mindless, devastating pillaging by foreign-controlled organized crime? How many more devious, paralyzing international cyberattacks? How much more torment of freedom loving citizens and torture of prisoners seized by terrorists? When will this stop?!

Since February 2014, when more than 100 peaceful protestors were killed in cold blood in the heart of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, to quash demands for dignity, Ukrainian society has lived under a cloud of mourning and grief. Every city and town, and hundreds of villages, have fresh graves—sons and sisters, husbands and daughters, fathers, and grandfathers who gave their lives for what God promises to every human being: freedom and dignity.

The war in Ukraine is real. It kills, maims, and destroys daily. An escalated Russian invasion will generate additional millions of refugees, more dead and injured, more tears and pain. Still, the people of Ukraine courageously endure. As they stand with a gun to their head, they ask for our solidarity.

What can we do?

Pray. Pray for peace and justice in Ukraine. God is the Lord of history and the Lover of Humankind. His grace changes the most hardened hearts. Ukraine was brutally invaded, its territory annexed, the society traumatized. May God convert the promoters of violence. May God protect Ukraine and its people from further harm.

Be informed. Know the facts and fight falsehood in a post-truth public debate being warped by Russian disinformation.  Inform others. The world cannot look away; you should not look away. Seek and share the truth, which gives authentic freedom and wisdom.

Support. There is a huge humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. People near the frontline often lack the basics—clean water, food, clothes, medicine. Heal the wounds. Help the victims of this senseless invasion. Donations can be sent to: https://ukrarcheparchy.us/donate.

May God’s gift of human dignity and freedom be honoured and protected in Ukraine and throughout the world!

Give ear to my prayer, O God;

And hide not thyself from my supplication…

I am distraught by the noise of the enemy,

Because of the oppression of the wicked…

But I will trust in thee. (Ps. 55, 1,2-3; 23)

 

+Borys Gudziak

Archbishop of Philadelphia, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States

Head of the Department of External Church Relations, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

 

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM

Eparch of Stamford

 

+Benedict Aleksiychuk

Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

 

+ Bohdan J. Danylo

Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

 

+Andriy Rabiy

Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

 




A Divine Liturgy for the sanctity of all human life was celebrated in the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine, Washington, DC

Washington, DC – As thousands of pilgrims converged upon the Nation’s Capital on Friday, January 21, to manifest opposition to Abortion in the United States, a Divine Liturgy for the sanctity of all human life was celebrated in the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family at 10:30 a.m.  With the current Covid-19 virus tamping down a usually robust attendance, some 30 faithful composed of parishioners and a group of students from Hillsdale College in Michigan attended the Liturgy.

The Liturgy was celebrated by Fr. Robert Hitchens and Fr. Andrii Chornopyskyi.  Fr. Peter Galadza (visiting professor at Catholic University), Olenka Galadza, and Yaromyr Oryshkevych cantored the Liturgy.

Fr. Hitchens in his homily reflected upon the journey of human life that begins with the first spark of life at conception until its natural end of earthly existence with a final breath.  From those earliest moments, God, the Father of Life, has blessed a new son or daughter with an unimaginable abundance of grace to live extraordinarily in His eyes without fear and with hope sustained and supported by the Holy Spirit. Thus, knowing the Good News of Jesus, we are called to promote an authentic culture of life imbued with love and mercy for all.  He also stressed that every human life is sacred and deserves respect, honor, dignity, and freedom, especially the people of Ukraine, who are in distress, with the uncertainty of probable foreign aggression.

Photo: Ivanna Chornopyska

Text: Fr. Robert Hitchens

 




The Archeparchy statistics 2021

The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia presented its statistics for the official Catholic Directory 2021.

“Every year it is beneficial to see how we stand as an Archeparchy with different Sacraments we administer to the people and how the lives of the parishes are affected by that. For example, this year marriages went up, especially Catholic weddings, as usually in the past there were more interfaith wedding”, commented the chancellor of the Archeparchy Monsignor Peter Waslo.

He noted that some things are disconcerting, among them is the number of baptisms compared to deaths. Archeparchy maintained the level of population at parishes and it is just over 12,000. “If we go back to the year 1900, the official Catholic Directory indicates that at the time there were 500,000 Ukrainian Catholics in the United States. We were the fifth largest jurisdiction in the US”, said the Monsignor.

Father Waslo stated that it is sad to observe how the Archeparchy’s structures are decreasing each year. “We are still here, still offering the best we can for the salvation of people. Hopefully we will increase our vocations. This past year we have had only one ordination to the diaconate but not for priesthood yet. These are things we have to keep working at. There are people who feel the calling but the tension of the world interferes and they doubt if they should take that plunge or not. Even if numbers seem to be unfavourable the faithfulness of the people gives us hope. The thing we should keep doing is to encourage people. If we listen to the world there is no hope, it is always bad news, and at least when we come to the Church, we hear the good news and we try to live it and be optimistic. It is God who is in control, not us. We just have to participate with Him to make it happen”, stressed Monsignor Peter.

Selected statistics

Total Catholic Population 12487

Baptisms 264

First Communions 196

Marriages 60

Deaths 347

Clergy:

Active in the Archeparchy 40

Religious Priests 3

Active Outside Archeparchy

Retired, Sick or Absent 6

Total Priests 50

Extern 6

Transitional Deacons 2

Permanent Deacons 4

Religious:

Brothers 1

Sisters 43

Seminarians 2

Parishes 63

New Parishes Created 1

Homes for the Aged 2

Total Assisted 330

Colleges and Universities 1

Total Students 661

Elementary Schools 3

Total Students 424

Total Students under Catholic Instruction 1763

Full statistics: 2021 OCD Statistics




Archbishop Borys Gudziak virtually attends funeral of the iconographer Ostap Lozynsky: the Lord has called one of his special evangelists

Ukrainian artist, Ostap Lozynsky, died in Lviv on January 6. He was 38 years old. He graduated from the Ivan Trush Lviv College of Decorative Arts and the Lviv National Academy of Arts. Ostap was an icon painter, collected works of ancient Ukrainian art, admired Hutsul folk culture, and had a large collection of Hutsul icons on glass.

His works have been presented at international exhibitions. Since last May, the exhibit of the sacred art of the ICONART Gallery has been showcased at the Metropolitan Residence of the Philadelphia Archeparchy (http://iconart.com.ua/ua/buy-art#!/Exhibition-in-Philadelphia/c/89646670). It featured several works by Ostap Lozynsky in the style of a folk icon: The Savior, St. George, the Virgin and Child. Most visitors noticed an icon Flight to Egypt. “I tried to include the features of warmth and family. In this icon, the Holy Family flees to Egypt with their dog. It would seem like a small element, but in my opinion, it makes this icon relatable,” Ostap noted in a short film about the exhibit.

In the fall of 2021, his exhibition DE ANIMA took place in the ICONART gallery in Lviv.

“Anima-Soul: We all have it. We all talk about it, think about it, but we don’t know anything… When and where does it appear? Where does it fly, how much does it weigh? In this project, I tried to contemplate these questions. Of course, I do not have the answers, I do not know what the soul looks like, but I sincerely believe that our souls have a purpose, and in our earthly life, we have, despite all interpretations and misreadings, to do everything so that our SOUL can ascend.” This is how the artist described his project.

Friends and colleagues from different countries gathered at his funeral, which was held in the chapel of the Ukrainian Catholic University, which Ostap and Ivanka Dymyd painted together. For those who could not get there, the funeral was live-streamed. Metropolitan Borys Gudziak also joined from the United States. He expressed his condolences to family and friends and spoke about his first acquaintance with Ostap in the winter of 1988. “I was happy to meet him when he was five years old. It was the Sunday before Lent, February 1988. I had the opportunity to meet his parents and their milieux, to get acquainted with a small domestic Church, a community of people who seek freedom, seek beauty and do not only think about it, but create with their participation, prayer, and words future independent Ukraine and a free Church.”

The Metropolitan also said that Ostap was seven years old when he gave a short interview to American journalists, for whom Borys Gudziak served as a translator. They were reporting on the first free Easter of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and the boy was already sharing what he was learning to paint “in the Ukrainian folk style.

“Today we thank God for this man who strived to be free, generous, ad honest, who was learning and teaching us about the search for God, communication, beauty, good taste, and pure joy. Now we should roll up our sleeves to continue work that what Ostap has started” stated Archbishop Borys to those gathered at the funeral.

The Philadelphia Archeparchy expresses its condolences to the family and friends of Ostap Lozynsky and is grateful for his icons, particularly for the Nativity of Christ icon, which was used as last year’s Christmas card of the Archeparchy and had graphic designs which Ostap personally contributed.

Eternal memory!

 




Christmas Appeal for the Archeparchy of Philadelphia

For your sake our Lord Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich, so that by  

his poverty you might become rich. It is appropriate for you who began not only to  

act but to act willingly last year: complete it now. Your surplus at the present time  

should supply their needs, so that their surplus may also supply your needs.”  

2 Cor. 8: 9-11, 13. 

December 2021 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

Glory to Jesus Christ!  

I thank you for your faithfulness in the arduous pandemic circumstances. I thank you because you reach out  to each other. You keep community prayer going. You welcome each other, and me, warmly in our parishes  and schools. You show how the Lord continues to encounter us. God comes to meet us in our real-life joys and  hardships. This is particularly true in Christmas and in the family celebrations and challenges that are before  us.  

All of humanity has suffered. Millions have died. Covid continues to rage in many counties, especially Ukraine.  Here in America, during the first year of the pandemic, our Metropolia lost 22 of approximately 300 clergy  and religious (not all from the coronavirus) — a mortality rate of 7% over twelve months during which we  had no new ordinations nor vocations to our religious orders.  

Last  year’s  Christmas  letter  identified  the  severe  clergy  shortage  as  the  single  greatest  obstacle  to  our  ministry. We all need and want priests to be in our parishes sharing our joys and be compassionately present  in our pain. Many of our priests have had little or no time off for years. We shared the hope of bringing new  clergy from Ukraine to address this dire need. 

Thank God, in the spring and summer, eight new missionaries — six priests, a subdeacon and a lay woman — arrived to begin serving in the Archeparchy, the culmination of almost two years of preparatory work. They  are open to God’s call and have an impressive range of talents. By now, many of you have met at least one of  them.  They  bolster  our  parishes  and  ministries,  gladly  facing  the  challenges  of  new  circumstances.  Their  presence is a blessing and a joy!  

Fathers Ruslan Borovyi, Andriy Chornopysky, Ihor Kolisnyk (CSsR), Yaroslav Lukavenko, Ostap Mykytchyn,  and Roman Oliinyk have served in over a dozen parishes throughout the Archeparchy substituting for pastors  wherever needed. Some have already embraced long-term assignments. Five of the six missionary priests are  husbands and fathers, and their families take active roles alongside them. Mariana Karapinka, along with the  married team of Halyna Vasylytsia and Deacon Andrii Rubel, work to transform and develop the Archeparchial  Communications Office.  Their  professional  output is  prodigious.  It is  recognized  by many  of  you  but  also  outside of our community, especially by our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. I hope you enjoy following  news from various parishes and communities as much as I do. They are showing the personal and human side  of the Archeparchy, especially through the top-notch videos! 

A key development of the last months has been our Archeparchial Planning, part of the Pastoral Plan of the  global Ukrainian Catholic Church. The four Sobors (councils) conducted in 2019 and 2020 served to collect  your input on topics like communion and unity, catechesis, liturgy and prayer, and service to those in need.

They became the foundation of our first formal planning meetings in August 2021 and led to the creation of  four teams of more that 50 laity, religious, and priests who will ensure the implementation of financial, social,  and ministerial  strategies. These  four  teams are  responsible  for making  “the  rubber  hits  the  road.” These  intentions  will  not  remain  on  paper.  With  the  active  involvement  of  our  clergy,  religious,  and  laity,  the  carefully  recorded  desires  expressed  by  representatives  of  our  parishes  during  the  Sobors  are leading  to  action. 

All aspects of our Pastoral Plan are animated by your voices. The Archeparchy is yours. As Paul teaches, based  on the example of Jesus himself, my vocation as Metropolitan is to be a servant of servants, not an ecclesial or  secular CEO: “For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the  sake of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:5). In this ministry, I need your help and you deserve to be informed. Transparency  and  frequent  communication  are  top  priorities.  The  Sobors,  the  Archeparchial  Planning,  The  Way are  all  conduits between the pews and the Chancery. I am asking that you follow our progress, especially by reading  The Way, and participate in every way possible. (If you are not on the electronic mailing list and would like to  receive The Way, please write to theway@ukrcap.org or call our chancery in Philadelphia (215) 627-0143) 

Allow me  to share with you a special request. Would you consider giving generously to our Christmas  Appeal  to  support  the ministry  of  our  new  priests  and  lay workers? Your  Christmas  donation will  be  doubled! A  generous  anonymous  donor  has  extended  his  pledge made  in  February  to match  every  donation for the new missionary project. 

The work  of  the new missionaries is  only a part  of  the Archeparchy’s activity. Our dedicated experienced  priests, with your help, have kept our parishes running despite formidable obstacles. We have established a  growing food pantry and social ministry bringing the light of Christ to the darkest corners of Philadelphia. Our  new Commission for Youth Ministry is headed by a wonderful laywoman from Philadelphia, Sofia Zacharczuk,  who at 28 became my new chief-of-staff and coordinator of the Archeparchy’s pastoral planning. We have a  new head of the Vocations Office in deacon Volodymyr Radko, who will be ordained a priest in February. We  have a new seminarian  from our Northampton parish, with  two others already in  formation, and 11 more  candidates  from  Ukraine  who  have  begun  a  year-long  virtual  preparation  program  to  come  to  our  Archeparchy. Please pray for them all! 

God draws souls to Himself especially in troubling times. New life is proof of this. A newborn child in the  harshest of circumstances gives us perspective and hope. Mary gave birth to Jesus in a den for animals,  not in a sparkling and sterile maternity ward. The manger, our Lord’s crib, was a trough  for livestock. The  challenges only mounted! Herod sought to kill the infant Jesus. The Holy Family became homeless refugees in  Egypt. The life of the Lord on earth began in dearth, dung, and danger…but He is the Son of God who brings  hope and salvation to the world! 

Soon we will celebrate God’s closeness in the Nativity. We will greet one another exclaiming CHRIST IS BORN!  God’s love never shies away from our hardships. Let us extend and multiply that divine gesture and continue  to reach out to each other. Please help the Archeparchy develop new missions serving those in need by giving  to the Christmas Appeal that this year will be generously matched one for one. I sincerely thank you for your  prayers, for your spiritual and material support. 

May the peace of the Lord and the joy of the Savior’s Nativity be with you and your loved ones this Christmas  and throughout the New Year.  

Христос раждається! Славіте Його! 

Christ is born! Glorify Him! 

Gratefully yours in the Newborn Savior,

+Borys

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Pastoral Letter of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church To the Clergy, Religious, and all the Faithful of the UGCC

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,

may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,

having the eyes of your heart enlightened,

that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you

(Eph 1:16-18).

Beloved in Christ!

In listening together to the Word of God and discerning the beating of the heart of our Church on the various continents of the world in the midst of a pandemic, we, the members of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, united in our synodal deliberations in the 2021st year of our Lord with you, beloved sons and daughters of our Mother Church, through this letter wish to reflect on how we are to be a vibrant and authentic Church of Christ, a community of the Lord’s disciples, in the midst of the challenges of the present world—in peace and joy! The answer to this question must be sought with profound faith in Jesus Christ, with the hope that is given us, with an awareness of the parental love of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit who acts in us. Looking towards the decade that lies before us, we wish to reflect on our common future together with you.

1. Ongoing Implementation of the Pastoral Plan “The Vibrant Parish – a Place to Encounter the Living Christ.” First of all, we would like to remind you of the foundations of our common program, “The Vibrant Parish – a Place to Encounter the Living Christ.” The implementation of this pastoral plan, which we launched in 2011, helped us keep focus on three questions: How are we to grow in faith? How are we to grow in holiness? How are we to grow in service and love? In particular, we focused on the first three elements of the “Vibrant Parish” program, which are: The Word of God and Catechesis, The Holy Mysteries and Prayer, Serving One’s Neighbour (Diakonia). These are points which express the internal nature of the Church, characterized her life from apostolic times, and remain fundamental to this day for every generation of Christ’s disciples. In these elements, we encounter Christ the Teacher, Christ the High Priest, Christ the Good Shepherd and Physician of soul and body.

In implementing the churchwide “Vibrant Parish” pastoral plan, we directed our attention primarily on the parish community as the place where the faithful most frequently encounter Christ through Christian teaching, common prayer, and service to neighbour. By fostering and invigorating our parishes, we hoped to renew our entire Church.

We should mention that the “Vibrant Parish” included other important elements: Leadership-Stewardship, Communion-Unity and a Missionary Spirit (see Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude Sviatoslav to the Faithful of the UGCC, “The Vibrant Parish – a Place to Encounter the Living Christ, December 2, 2011). And so, this program continues, and we must work on its implementation and development in every parish community.

At the same time, the “Vibrant Parish” elements should be applied not only to parishes, but also to every Christian community, both great and small, especially to the family. After all, the Christian family is called to be a place of teaching the faith, a school for personal and community prayer, as well as a centre for sacrificial service to one’s neighbour. Indeed, this vocation applies to every Christian—deacon, priest and bishop, man and woman, the child and young person, religious, and layperson.

2. Pastoral Conversion. Any initiative requires a certain awareness of one’s weaknesses. This should surprise no one. At the beginning of our Christian life, before we were brought to the cleansing waters of Baptism, it was necessary that we (as expressed for most of us as through our godparents) renounce Satan and all his works. The symbolism of the Baptismal service reminds us that we cannot follow Christ if we do not purify ourselves from all that leads us away from Him. This renunciation of the world of evil is not a one-time act, but continuous, and lasts throughout our life. There is no Christian in this world who does not need conversion and repentance: bishops, clergy, religious, the faithful, from the youngest to the oldest… We are all created in the image and likeness of our Lord. The image of God is always present in us, but the restoration of divine likeness requires our effort because the restoration of our fallen human nature involves persistent spiritual struggle, a regular examination of conscience, a continual openness to restorative divine grace. It is for this reason that in our liturgical tradition we constantly beseech the Lord: “That we may spend the rest of our lives in peace and repentance.”

At the heart of spiritual warfare is the constant effort to overcome our tendency to egoism through self-denial, following Christ’s example. The Apostle to the Gentiles in his Epistle to the Philippians writes: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:5-7).

This applies, first, to labourers in Christ’s vineyard—to us, bishops, and to our immediate co-workers, the priests, who today are called to a genuine pastoral conversion. What does this involve? At this time, we must speak seriously about our readiness to change for the better, to utilize new means of communication between individuals, between the Church and a society that is rapidly transforming, and to constantly search for the most effective methods of being together and serving one another. We must reflect on reforming church structures, on a new dynamism and creativity in ministry, on introducing the kind of pastoral approaches that grant our laity the possibility to apply their talents in fulfilling the mission of the Church, on the ability to provide answers to real spiritual needs of the People of God, on being able to read “the signs of the times,” on the way we engage with others with a sense of shared responsibility (sobornist) and a spirit of cooperation, on overcoming the fear that stands in the way of establishing a renewed evangelical manner to be a shepherd of souls according to the heart of Christ in the 21st century.

Renunciation of evil, understanding historical errors and self-denial are not goals in and of themselves. These efforts should lead us to openness and accountability, to authentic spiritual accompaniment and Christian closeness. Therefore, we must constantly purify our intentions so that our actions reflect not our will but God’s will. In this way, we will follow the example of our Lord, the Christ, who said of Himself: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (Jn 6:38).

Conversion is not a simple denial of something, but a joining to someone—Jesus Christ, as St. Paul wrote: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Conversion makes us free to become, in Christ, a vibrant community of children of God. It brings a person closer to God, the Only Holy One. And this divine closeness—with us and to us—makes us fruitful in our spiritual life and pastoral ministry and makes the mission of the Church successful in all times and among all peoples.

3. Developing networks of communion. In those moments, when we are confronted with complicated choices and challenges, let us seek to find an answer to the question: What would Jesus do in this situation? How would He behave in my place? This approach can be adopted not only by individual persons, but also by institutions, our Church in particular, as she asks herself today: How are we to move forward? How do we preach the Kingdom of God in this fragmented, deeply divided and wounded 21st century world? How are we to be a light to today’s world?

We can find many answers when we examine the life and ministry of our Lord. First of all, Christ often retreated into solitude in order to pray. Having become man, the Son of God was constantly watchful that the will of the Father be fulfilled in Him. He described the fulfilment of God’s will as daily nourishment: My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (Jn 4:34). By maintaining a spiritual “vertical connection”—obedience to the Father in incessant prayer and in fulfilling His salvific will, our Lord built His relations with others in light of divine will—something that contemporary culture expects from us, His disciples.

Jesus was a master when it came to creating interpersonal relations and communion: through encounters, healings, sermons He built and developed a circle of disciples, followers, and witnesses—which became of foundation for building up the Church. Let us remind ourselves that the basis of the Church is not a thing—a code of rules and practices, ideology, a branchlike structure or a pyramid, but Someone–Christ Himself: “In whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph 2:21). Christ constantly called unto Himself different people, laid foundations for a common listening to the Word of God, community prayer, and common ministry.

This manner of working and style of mission was adopted by St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. Through tireless preaching and multiple journeys, letters, and epistles, he develops, strengthens, and brings together networks, communities of recognizable, concrete persons—not nameless masses—gathered in the Lord’s name. Modelling themselves on their Teacher, the apostles, who became missionary disciples, remained close to individual persons and communities. They hastened from one community to another, fostering unity in faith and solidarity in love. Their successors acted in the same manner throughout history.

This network of fraternal community in faith and solidarity in love is so important that even in times of communist persecution on our maternal lands, members of our Church under the leadership of its pastors, in spite of great restrictions and danger, continued to maintain it, and did so, with God’s grace, rather successfully: in the underground monasteries operated in secret, seminaries educated new priests, the faithful gathered in private homes for prayer and liturgical services.

Even more today we are called to such personal and ecclesial relationships at different levels: in the family, school, workplace, in the parish and eparchy and between eparchies, religious communities and monasteries.

Love is at the core of communion among Christ’s disciples (see 1 Cor 13:13).

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). The community of Christ is, in essence, a network of love and service. Witness to this is wonderfully borne in the Acts of the Apostles: “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common” (Act 4:32). How good when there is cooperation and solidarity! This network of souls through the millennia embraced the destitute, healed wounds, overcame divisions among people, raised those who found themselves at the bottom of the social ladder, and continues to do so to this day.

The development of media technologies—from the discovery of writing and printing to the internet—expresses this same communication network, which is natural, indeed, essential for a human being. Human life in its many facets is a network of intricate relationships. The famous Catholic writer of the 20th century, Thomas Merton, noted “No man is an island.” We are rediscovering this in contemporary culture with its tendency towards individualism and polarization and are experiencing this deeply in a time of pandemic. The quarantines demonstrated that the network of human relations can both destroy and be life-giving. We need contact with other people, like we need air. However, such relationships must be healthy, whole, marked by an ability to listen and hear one another, and not poisonous or toxic. We must become a Church of healthy relationships, a friendship of communities of Christ’s disciples, who think in common and act synodally, experiencing together the common pilgrimage of the created world towards its Creator, with Christ at is head. Let us beseech the Holy Spirit that in all our relationships His fruit be brought forth: love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (see Gal 5:22-23).

4. The Path to Curing Wounds and Healing Traumas. Journeying through the cities, towns, and villages of the Holy Land, Jesus gathered disciples and preached the Kingdom. At the same time, He demonstrated the essence of the Kingdom in a manner understood by all—listening, showing mercy, and healing: And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction” (Mt 9:35). He healed haemorrhage and blindness, demonic possession and leprosy, paralysis, and the ultimate human illness—death. Healing is an expression of God’s love and a sign of the presence of His Kingdom: “He welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing” (Lk 9:11). The Lord provides us an example of how we are to act and preach—to heal the wounds and illnesses of others, especially in the context of the lived experience of genocidal totalitarian regimes, intent on destroying the human being and crushing its dignity.

We cannot dream about the future of our Church if we do not reflect on the need for a healing of traumas—personal, familial, societal, ecclesial, national, historical, and global. Contemporary understanding of how the human psyche works, the dynamics of consciousness, will, and feelings of a person, the experience of pastoral ministry and relationships demonstrate how all of us need healing. Entire generations of our Church’s faithful experienced great upheavals, which, unfortunately, have not ceased, but take on new forms. The terror of genocidal regimes and world wars, colonialism and violence, imprisonment and forced emigration, the new war and the pandemic—all leave profound wounds on human souls, on families, and on all of society.

These wounds require the healing of God’s mysterious, tender, and personal touch. Otherwise, pain, fear, and mistrust lead to aggression, destructive passions, and addictions. Where these is no genuine love among God’s sons and daughters, there seductive, populist ideologies take root. Cheap promises, simplistic and deceptive answers to the profound needs of the human soul cripple and deform the psyche and thinking of entire societies. The power that heals, the grace of the Holy Spirit, capable of healing the wounds of the past and present—these come from an encounter with the living Christ, the Physician of soul and body, Who makes Himself present in the mutual love of His followers. And the vehicle for this Source of healing is and must be our Church, all its communities and institutions.

The pandemic, which every one of us is experiencing, has given us the opportunity to see even more clearly the face of a crippled humanity and the needs of the wounded person, who suffers from loneliness, fear, anxiety, addictions, disquiet, and injustice. We need a Healer and we ourselves must be instruments of healing in order to reveal the Kingdom that we preach. It is the road of healing, which intertwines with the paths of repentance, that opens up the way towards an authentic mission. The children of the Church, who have experienced her life-giving love, and have understood their Baptismal vocation to divine sonship and daughterhood, become missionaries who preach a Gospel of redemption and healing.

5. Closeness and Practical Attention to the Poor and Marginalized. Paradoxically, we reach healing not when we focus on ourselves, on our difficulties, needs and problems, but when we open up in compassionate and merciful love towards our fellow human beings, seeking to grant them the experience of God’s healing presence and life-giving love through our human presence and closeness. Our Lord spoke of this Gospel paradox: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 10:39). To love one’s life for Christ’s sake means dedicating it to serving our neighbour, especially the most destitute, poor, marginalized, those whom the Lord calls “the least of these my brothers” and says that everything that we do for one of these, we have done for Him (Mt 25:40). Thus, in serving one’s neighbour out of love, a person “finds their own life,” that is, rediscovers the greatest truth about themselves as a beloved child of God, created out of love and called to love.

One of our contemporaries, Carlo Maria Martini, rightly noted: “God is present in each act of love, in all signs of forgiveness, in the commitment of those who fight against violence, hate, want and suffering.” That which characterizes Christian love it its concreteness. As our neighbour with his unique daily needs and miseries is concrete, so must God’s presence in our works of mercy be concrete: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, receive the sojourner into our home, visit the sick and imprisoned, etc. (see Mt 25:35-36; Is 58:6-7; Pastoral Letter of the Synod of Bishop of the UGCC of 2020: “Only One Things Will Remain Yours –That Which You Have Given to the Poor!”, 1)

Our service to neighbour frequently finds expression in meeting their immediate and basic needs and necessities. However, Divine love compels us to reach towards the root of human suffering and misfortune, which is often found hidden behind human sin, and appears in community relations, poisoned by injustice. Thus, our Christian efforts will bear even greater fruit, if we, along with meeting the needs of a specific person, our neighbour, also strive for the healing of social sinfulness and so establish the common good, from which every member of the human community will be able to draw hope.

His Holiness, Pope Francis, calls on us to become increasingly a Church that reaches out beyond herself to serve. And in this insight is found the call to each of us to leave our own comfort zones, to move beyond ourselves and increasingly open ourselves up to our fellow human beings. In practice, this means to direct our attention and steps towards concrete people who live “on the periphery” of today’s world, filled with fear, sadness and hopelessness; towards those whose cry for help does not reach the ears of their surroundings, hardened by indifference and egoism, but should find resonance in the heart of a person of genuine faith, giving rise in his or her life to streams of solidarity, compassionate listening and merciful love. Thus, in our contemporary world, immersed in the fear of death and anxiety before the coming day, we will be able to bring a sign of hope that “does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). Indeed, our treatment of neighbour, our readiness to service will become a sign of new hope and a testament to the authenticity and depth of our faith.

6. The Christian Family – A Domestic Church. Speaking and preaching about the Christian family, the venerable Metropolitan Andrey was convinced that it provides “teaching, on which depends and is supported the future of the entire people” (On the Christian Family, 1900). In the same spirit of his great predecessor, Patriarch Josyf, in the twilight of his life, wrote: “Parents, the Christian Family – that is the foundation for a healthy society, a people, a nation. It is the pledge of their growth and strength! And thus, I beseech you: preserve it, and where it has been shaken, restore the authentic Christian family among the Ukrainian people, as the undying hearth of life and health for the Church and People” (Testament of His Beatitude Patriarch Josyf). And so, our Church, continuing the work of these illustrious righteous leaders, gives special attention to the spiritual care and spiritual accompaniment of families.

The past year of 2020 brought suffering to millions of people across the globe because of the pandemic. This time of unprecedented challenges demonstrated, with particular clarity, what a great gift it is for us, Christians, to be able to gather together in prayer “in the same place,” as the first disciples of Christ did (see Acts 2:1), breaking the Eucharistic Bread and calling upon the Holy Spirit, who transfigures the community of God’s children, making it the living Body of the Risen Saviour. All of us experienced with great pain, and, in part, still continue to experience a “Eucharistic hunger,” a longing for live participation in the Liturgy. Quarantine restrictions, established by the governments of many countries, forced us for a certain time to leave our churches and worship from our homes. Some have seen in this movement of the People of God the fulfilment of the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by” (Is 26:20).

With gratitude we can attest today that our households and Christian families in this difficult time became a place of great and convincing faith witness. Parents were given an opportunity to read the Holy Scriptures with their children, to pray and take part in online-streaming of services from parish or cathedral churches. The experience of our underground Church, so fresh in the memory of the older generation, was put to use once again, showing the unique and irreplaceable role of the family in fostering and transmitting the faith. Nothing can replace the good example of practicing Christian parents. Society today needs the witness of the healthy Christian family, possibly more than at any other time in human history.

However, many a family became painfully aware of its limitations and weaknesses, which became apparent in those long weeks and months of quarantine restrictions. Many a family experienced the loss of loved ones, crisis, and tension. More than a few persons realized how they are unable to show patient and merciful love towards their closest. Many a parent sensed that they weren’t prepared to guide their children with wisdom and in a God-like manner, to support one another on the faith journey in the midst of the turbulent sea of the pandemic and the difficulties associated with it. To these human, spiritual, and psychological limitations were added externals factors such as the loss of employment, reduction of salary, which became a source of additional suffering and anxiety in families. To all our families we wish to express reassurances of our closeness and prayers.

At the same time, we renew our appeal to the clergy to give central attention to family ministry, catechesis of the family, which is called to be an image of the community of the Most Holy Trinity in the world, and a sign of hope for all humanity. A believing family, that “community of life and love which God himself wanted for man and woman” (St. John Paul II, General Audience, October 8, 1997), and which church tradition call a “domestic church,” is to be “the path of the Church” for all times. In the same address, St. John Paul II spoke of this: “Yes, the family is eminently the ‘path of the Church’ which recognizes in it an essential and irreplaceable element of God’s plan for humanity. The family is ‘the privileged place for personal and social development.’ Whoever fosters the family, fosters the human person; whoever attacks it, attacks the human person. Today the family and life are confronted by a fundamental challenge which affects human dignity itself.”

7. Sense of Mission and Going forth into the World. The mission of the Church is expressed in ministry of the word and healing through being present to the human person in his or her joys and sorrows, successes and challenges, through listening to the voice of our neighbour and preaching the Gospel of mercy to the destitute of all times. The Church is called to go forth in order to preach the Gospel, baptize all nations (see Mt 28:18-20), and she does so by overcoming barriers—linguistic, ethnic, cultural, racial, and social. The words of Jesus, spoken to the apostles after the Resurrection, indicate to us the dynamics that God expects from us: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Pope Francis teaches: “In our day Jesus’ command to ‘go and make disciples’ echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges to the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new missionary ‘going forth.’ Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel.” (Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, 20). Saintly pastors have recognized the call of the Holy Spirit and been able to reach out beyond the usual spheres of ministry in order to spread the light of Christ’s Gospel in their contemporary societies. Our blessed priest-martyr, Omelyan Kovch, pre-empted by decades today’s movement of “the Church going forth” when in his renowned booklet, “Why are our people fleeing from us?”, which he wrote while imprisoned in Berezhany in the late 30s of the last century, he stated: “Already the great pope Leo XIII uttered a profound thought: ‘Fuori di sacristia!’ (Out of the sacristy!). Yes, in our time a priest must truly cultivate his activity outside the sacristy. Therefore, if a priest wishes to keep his flock in faith, in church and rite, he must ‘go forth from the sacristy’ and actively participate in the community life of his parish… Should he fail to do this, the ground will disappear under his feet, as has already happened to more than one.”

We should not limit ourselves to preaching the Word of God only to “our own,” but must go and preach to diverse nations in their own language. Let every one of us—bishop, priest, deacon, seminarian, monk, sister, boy, girl, father, mother—respond to this appeal of the Successor of St. Peter to “go forth in mission” where we live, work, rest.

This “going forth” will be fruitful and blessed only if every one of us will do it with Christ and in unity with the Church: “In fidelity to the example of the Master, it is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded. That is what the angel proclaimed to the shepherds in Bethlehem: ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people’ (Lk 2:10).” (The Joy of the Gospel, 23). Let us move forward, going forth with courage to search for those who are distant, and invite those, who remain at the bottom of society. Let us show initiative! (see idem, 24).

*   *   *

Beloved in Christ! If the proposals and priorities given here are to become the program of our Church for the next years, it is necessary that each of us, you and we, understand our vocation and our responsibility before God for the spiritual gifts we have received from Him. Let us cast aside all that keeps us from Christ! Let us open ourselves to the gift of the Holy Spirit who descends on each of us and bears His fruit through us! Let us be living icons of God’s goodness in the world! Let us be bearers of peace and gentle evangelists of Christ’s love, a love that does not impose, but invites to a life of communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. Let us constantly keep before our eyes the example of our zealous predecessors in faith, from apostolic times to the new martyrs and confessors of faith of the 20th century, who in the face of all the challenges of their time were able to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom 12:12).

Let the prayer of the chief apostle Peter, a living witness to our hope, be on the mouth and in the heart of each of us: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1Pt 1:3-4)

 

The blessing of the Lord be upon you!

On behalf of the Synod of Bishops of the

Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church

 

+SVIATOSLAV

Given in Kyiv,

at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,

on the day of the Holy Martyr Longinus the Centurion

October 29 (16), 2021 A.D.




Inaugural Presentation of Macrina and Basil Award

NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA–The Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great presented the Macrina and Basil Award for Gratitude to Caring for Friends on December 23, 2021. The Macrina and Basil Award is given to organizations and individuals whose outstanding generosity supports the mission and work of the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great, Jesus, Lover of Humanity Province. Caring for Friends has been a crucial partner of the newly formed St. Basil Support Ministry since its inception in December 2020.

Rita Ungaro-Schiavone founded Aid for Friends in 1974, rebranded in 2019 as Caring for Friends. The organization provides “food and friendship” to the homebound, seniors, veterans, and others. This synthesis of corporal and spiritual nourishment is very important for understanding human nature: companionship is as essential for humans as food. This idea matches perfectly with the Sisters’ latest initiative which was intentionally called a “Support Ministry” rather than a food pantry to convey the Basilian care for both body and soul.

Week after week, Caring for Friends supplies a wide array of foods to faith-based organizations and community non-profits for distribution throughout Philadelphia’s five-county metropolitan region. These include perishable and shelf-stable items as well as ready-to-heat meals and “blessing bags” (small plastic bags with snacks). Volunteers also make weekly home visits to client friends. All of this is done at no cost.

Caring for Friends was one of the first collaborators with the St. Basil Support Ministry when it began one year ago, and it has proven to be one of the most important. The food provided has helped keep things going especially during more challenging weeks.

Sister Joann Sosler, Superior of the Jesus, Lover of Humanity Province, presented the award. “We are so thankful to Caring for Friends for your tireless dedication and spirit of charity. It is on account of your help that the St. Basil Support Ministry has been able to reach so many,” remarked Sister Joann.

Caring for Friends is the inaugural recipient of the Macrina and Basil Award for Gratitude, which is named for the Sisters’ founders. St. Basil the Great himself started a social ministry in 4th century Asia Minor (modern Turkey), called the Basileiad. The Basileiad offered food, healthcare, and more to anyone in need and was widely recognized for its importance–so much so that the Roman Empire even funded the ministry.

St. Basil Support Ministry distributes food on Fridays, 10 AM – 12 PM. For more information contact Sister Teodora Kopyn, OSBM at (215) 429-0560 or (215) 379-3998.

Article and Photo – Sean McLaughlin




Ukrainian Journals of Henri Nouwen presented to Philadelphia audience 

On December 18, the Library of the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center in Jenkintown hosted the book presentation of “Ukrainian Journals” of Father Henri Nouwen. The book consists of deep and touching personal reflections on Ukraine and Ukrainians by Father Henri, which he wrote in his journals during two trips to Ukraine. These journals, written 27 years ago, have never been published and have now seen the light of the day in Lviv’s publishing house, Svichado, 25 years after their author’s death.


“In the religious and theological world of the ’80s and ’90’s Fr. Henri Nouwen was a megastar, but rather a jazzman not a pop star, ” said Metropolitan Borys Gudziak, who met Father Henri, while studying at Harvard University. They became close friends, and it was Borys Gudziak who asked him to visit Ukraine.

“It was important for me that he — my professor, confessor, and friend – come to see the land of my parents, where I recently moved. And he agreed. This is an example of Henri’s reflex — he was deeply involved in other people’s lives. For him, everything was personal. He had the gift of attention. He was a man of encounter, empathy, and deep intuition. This book appeared because he came to me and Zenia Kushpeta, who was establishing the movements “l’Arche” and “Faith and Light” in Ukraine.

The book was presented to the Philadelphia audience by Metropolitan Borys Gudziak and the translator of the Journals, Maryana Karapinka, who is currently the head of the Philadelphia Archeparchy’s Communications Department. Deacon Volodymyr Radko moderated the conversation.


“He was my best friend, although 25 years have passed since his sudden death, and death puts a little distance between us and our friends. He had a tremendous influence on me, and he was with me in the most difficult moments of my inner spiritual experiences. The power of his writing, and I must say that his speeches were even stronger than the texts, came from great openness. He was honest, almost naked. This was the core of his eloquence, because he confronted what he was going through, shared it with the Lord, and wrote and preached about it, ” the Metropolitan shared.

He also noted that although Father Henri Nouwen had not seen the Ukrainian Catholic University, it was his influence that placed at the center of the university’s identity marginalized people with intellectual disabilities. The Ukrainian Catholic University is built on two pillars: martyrs — those who carried the torches of faith through the complex circumstances of the twentieth century, and marginalized — mentally handicapped people who do not care if you have a diploma or are in an important position. But they ask the most important pedagogical question ‘Can you love me?’ “They are mentors of human relations, “Archbishop Borys stressed.

Maryana Karapinka spoke about the peculiarities of the work on the translation of the “Journals” and about the special experience of discovering Lviv of the ’90s through Father Henri’s writing. “Travel stories is one of the oldest and most interesting genres in literature. This is an opportunity to get to places where we have never been. Father Henri writes about Ukraine and places that I know well, but with him, I seem to have fallen into the time machine — Ukraine and Lviv he writes about no longer exist. I was struck by the fact that Father Henri looked at our post-Soviet reality with the eyes of love. He doesn’t understand everything, he is sometimes annoyed, but he tries to comprehend the situation to its core, he is not afraid to meet suffering people,” she shared.

She also spoke about the work of the Henri Nouwen Foundation, created by his brother Laurent, who for 20 years has supported various projects in Ukraine  — psychiatric hospitals, orphanages, families with children with disabilities, rural hospitals, and schools.

The Archeparchy express its sincere gratitude to the Library at the UECC for their collaboration on this project and hopefully many more in the future.

 




Metropolitan Meets with Mothers in Prayer

On Saturday, December 18, Archbishop Borys Gudziak met with members of the “Mothers in Prayer” movement from all over the world by Zoom. Participants hailed from the U.S. and Canada, Ukraine, France, and other countries. The online meeting was organized by Mrs. Lesia Muraszczuk, Coordinator of Mothers in Prayer in the U.S., and Fr. Roman Oliynyk, spiritual director of the movement at the Archeparchial level.

During the meeting the Metropolitan presented the Synod of Bishops’ Pastoral Letter, The Hope to Which the Lord Calls Us. This letter provides guidance for the 2030 Pastoral Plan of the entire Ukrainian Catholic Church which is founded on the previous Pastoral Plan of 2020 (The Vibrant Parish – a Place to Encounter the Living Christ). The Archbishop pointed out that the 2030 Plan will emphasize family and pastoral conversion.

During the Q&A session he encouraged the Mothers in Prayer to gather together to read and discuss this letter. Moreover, Archbishop Borys invited all present to read the Gospel daily. At the end of the meeting he thanked the women for their active engagement in parish life and wished them a blessed Christmas season.

 




Archbishop Borys Participates in Permanent Synod

The 18th (69th) session of the Permanent Synod was held online December 15-17, 2021. Metropolitan Borys is one of the four bishops of this advisory body which is presided over by the UGCC’s Head. During this session, our Metropolitan presented a summary report of his activities in 2021 as chair of the Department of External Church Relations.

The session included updates from others as well, including Bishop Yaroslav Pryriz of Sambir and Drohobych, who is in charge of the UGCC’s Theological Commission, and Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Eparchy of the Holy Family in London, who directs the Church’s Pastoral Council. Members of the Permanent Synod also discussed several issues related to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.