Second all-Ukraine meeting of main military chaplains of the UGCC has finished its work

Friday, 30 January 2009, 22:48
The meeting took place on January 27–28 in the village of Zarvanytsya, Ternopil Region. In it took part the main military chaplains of all the eparchies and exarchates of the UGCC in Ukraine and representatives of the power structures of Ukraine (Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Internal Troops of the MIA of Ukraine, Government Border Service of Ukraine).
The meeting took place on January 27–28 in the village of Zarvanytsya, Ternopil Region. In it took part the main military chaplains of all the eparchies and exarchates of the UGCC in Ukraine and representatives of the power structures of Ukraine (Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Internal Troops of the MIA of Ukraine, Government Border Service of Ukraine). With his speech Reverend Bishop Mikhail (Koltun), head of the Department of the Patriarchal Curia of the UGCC in Matters of Chaplaincy in the Power Structures of Ukraine, solemnly opened the meeting. He noted in particular: «The purpose of conducting such a convention is to improve effective cooperation both between the Church and power structures and inside the Church, between the chaplains of different eparchies of the UGCC and the Department of the Patriarchal Curia.» In addition, His Beatitude Lubomyr appealed to the participants of the meeting in an audio address. "The participation in the convention of representatives of the power structures was important. In fact it is precisely ongoing dialogue which helps develop cooperation," noted Fr. Lubomyr Yavorskyj, assistant of the Department of the Patriarchal Curia of the UGCC in Matters of Chaplaincy in the Power Structures of Ukraine. Consequently Fr. Lubomyr talked about the work of the department in the previous year and shared its plans for the future. The assistant director of the Department of Humanitarian Policy of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Petro Ivanovych Kostyuk, lectured about the modern state military – religious relations and prospects for their development. He in particular noted: «The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine is not removed from processes connected with the introduction of the chaplaincy, but shows an active position, which is demonstrated by a directive signed by the secretary of defense of Ukraine and a signed memorandum about cooperation between the Ministry and the Churches.» The representative of the Ministry of Defense noted also that one of the tasks set for 2009 in the humanitarian sphere is the creation of favorable terms for preparing the introduction of the institution of military chaplaincy. Father Stephan Sus, main military chaplain of the Lviv Archeparchy of the UGCC, presented to the participants of the conference the modern picture of the practical realization of military chaplaincy in the Ukrainian army. In particular, he noted that such a ministry has two dimensions: chaplains conducting spiritual and educational work among soldiers and also celebrating religious services in the military chaplaincy. Deacon Ruslan Kokhanchuk, senior officer of the Sector of Work with Religious Organizations of the Department of Humanitarian Policy of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, lectured on the theme: «The role and mission of Greek-Catholic chaplains at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.» Father Mikhailo Sukmanovskyj, who last year entered the complement of the Ukrainian peacemaking battalion in Kosovo, shared with the participants of the convention his experience obtained in an area of armed conflict. After Fr. Mikhailo’s speech, he was handed an award from His Beatitude Lubomyr for pastoral work in a peacemaking contingent. The next day the chaplains started their work with a pontifical Liturgy which was led by Bishop Mikhail (Koltun). In his sermon Bishop Mikhail noted: «The memory which we today give to those who died in the fight at Kruty should form us. The heroism of 300 students should give us confidence that we can defend our country when we are together, when we develop and support spiritual and patriotic education.” After the Liturgy a panakhyda (memorial service) was held for the youths who died in the fight at Kruty.  At the completion of the convention the participants discussed preparation of the all-Ukrainian military pilgrimage to Zarvanytsya, which they planned to conduct in the autumn of this year, and they formed plans of activity for the current year. In addition to conducting a pilgrimage to Zarvanytsya, this year they plan to conduct some training for military chaplains, to develop and publish prayer books for soldiers and prayer manuals for chaplains, and also to assist in creating centers of military chaplaincy at seminaries, on the example of Holy Spirit Seminary in Lviv, which will become centers to prepare chaplains and help them in their daily ministry.

Fr. Lubomyr Yavorskyj reported for the Information Department.

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