Head of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church begins visit to Winnipeg

Thursday, 06 September 2012, 21:39
His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the Major Archbishop of Kyiv, Ukraine and head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide, arrived in Winnipeg for a week-long pastoral visit that will be followed by a meeting of the Synod of Bishops of that Church.

The large crowd, many dressed in Ukrainian traditional costume or the uniform of various religious organizations, boldly sang “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” as the “father and head” of their thousand-year-old Church descended the escalator into the arrivals hall of Richardson International Airport.

Sviatoslav, the surprisingly young principal hierarch of the Church - popularly referred to by as many as “Patriarch” – is making his first pastoral visit to Winnipeg since his election last year. (He was elected by his peer bishops at the age of 41 after his predecessor Lubomyr Husar asked to retire.) Winnipeg is the Archiepiscopal See of Most Rev. Lawrence Huculak, the Metropolitan of Canada for Ukrainian Catholics.

After Metropolitan Lawrence welcome him, he was met by representatives of the young people of Manitoba – those in church organizations and those from the Ukrainian scout organizations SUM and PLAST. Greeting him in both English and Ukrainian, they presented him with traditional Ukrainian symbols of welcome: bread and salt.

His Beatitude - visibly moved by what he referred to as an “overwhelming welcome” - responded to the crowd mainly in English. He did not speak very long, because he said that they would have many opportunities to meet in the days ahead. In fact, a series of large encounters are planned with the youth, the elderly the clergy and religious among others. He will visit a number of parishes and pastoral centres. Three of the principal events are the Divine Liturgy at Sts. Volodymr and Olha Cathedral on Sunday, September 9th and a Gala Banquet the following Sunday.

After his visit, His Beatitude will chair the Synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The participants are all the Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church from around world. They have never convened in Canada before and may never do so again. Since Ukraine gained independence twenty one years ago, they almost invariably meet in Ukraine. However, they chose to come this year to commemorate the centenary of the appointment of the first Ukrainian Bishop to Canada. Bishop Nykyta Budka arrived in Winnipeg in 1912 to serve as the sole bishop for Ukrainian immigrants from coast to coast. He is titled “Blessed”, because he was beatified as one of the 27 new martyrs recognized by Pope John Paul in 2001. After serving fifteen years as bishop in Canada, Blessed Nykyta returned to Ukraine only to later suffer arrest and martyrdom under the Soviet regime. Canada acknowledges his legacy this year and thus Metropolitan Lawrence invited all the Bishops to come join the celebrations. They too will be arriving over the next few days.

The week-long Synod to follow takes place outside of Winnipeg and will discuss many matters common to the faithful of the Ukrainian Catholic Church around the world. The principal theme of this convocation is “laity and the Evangelization”. However, they will deal with a wide variety of pressing matters. The Synod fathers now number forty nine, but due to various issues not all will be able to attend.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav will depart from Winnipeg on September 18th to continue his visit to Canada in Saskatchewan.

At the close of his visit to Canada, he will address the plenary session of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops toward the end of September. 


Rev. Michael Kwiatkowski 
Information, Media and Public Relations
Winnipeg Visit and Synod Committee

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