Summary of the Visit of UGCC Head to Lutsk Exarchate

Summary of the Visit of UGCC Head to Lutsk Exarchate

Wednesday, 03 April 2013, 14:44
Primate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) completed his official pastoral visit to the Lutsk Exarchate. The visit took place on March 26-31.
Primate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) completed his official pastoral visit to the Lutsk Exarchate. The visit took place on March 26-31. The goal of the visit was to spend a week visiting communities, become familiar with their issues in order to assist in the development of the churches, to make recommendations, to offer advice, to perhaps create new structures, communities, as well as to resolve some concrete pastoral issues. In all, UGCC Head managed to visit Lutsk, Rivne, Zdolbuniv, Dubno, Novovolynsk, Volodymyr-Volynskyi and Kovel. His Beatitude Sviatoslav began his visitation on March 26th in Lutsk where he met with the exarchate clergy and Mayor Mykola Romaniuk, with whom he discussed the situation of Greek-Catholics in Volyn and promised the faithful that they will soon begin the construction of a UGCC cathedral in Lutsk. Here UGCC Head noted the very positive existence in the Volyn region of a Council of Churches, which does not exist anywhere else in Ukraine. UGCC Major Archbishop stated that such collaboration between Churches in Volyn can well serve as an example for all Ukraine. In Lutsk the Primate did not forget about youth and held a special meeting with them.  He assured the young people that UGCC Head loves them, remembers them, cares about them, and serves them. On March 27th, the Head and Father of Greek-Catholics visited Rivne and Zdolbuniv.  In being in these cities, the Church Primate together with the faithful prayed an Akathist to the Passion of Christ.  In addressing the community, he underlined the significance of the growth of faith among the apostles and in Prince Volodymyr the Great, whose consequences we have inherited as beneficiaries.  “We have to be grateful for the gift of faith.  Apostle Paul states that faith is getting to know invisible things.  Therefore in our spiritual life, it is this faith that is the weightiest element which engenders movement in the growth of virtues.  A person is endowed with great potential and strength, yet a person is limited and it is faith itself which assists a person to fly in the heights,” noted His Beatitude Sviatoslav. In Rivne he met with Mayor Volodymyr Khomko, whom he thanked for “the good attitude of the authorities to the Greek-Catholics in the city.”Afterwards he met with students and lecturers from the International Economic-Humanitarian University.  Lent through love – was the main topic of UGCC Head’s address to youth.  Also His Beatitude Sviatoslav spoke with the parishioners of St. Mykola Church, focusing on love of one’s neighbor.  “We must love the neighbor whom we see, because otherwise we will not be able to love God, whom we do not see,” said UGCC Head.  He spent the third day of his visit in Dubno, where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of the Ascension of the Lord and blessed the iconostasis.  At the end of the service Bishop Josaphat stated that this day became special for the Dubno parish congregation, “In five years we were successful in building five churches, but today is the first time that we blessed an iconostasis.  I perceive this as a good beginning of the development of our exarchate,” commented the Bishop on the pastoral visit of His Beatitude Sviatoslav. As traditionally accepted, His Beatitude Sviatoslav paid a visit of respect to Mayor Vasyl Antoniuk, whom he thanked for “authentic democracy”.  UGCC Head emphasized that Dubno always distinguished itself by the high education, intellect and culture of its residents. In Dubno also His Beatitude met with youth and talked about Great Lent.  He also visited the Dubno National Historico-Cultural Preserve.  On March 29th, UGCC Head arrived in Volodymyur-Volynskyi where he blessed the cornerstone of the St. Josaphat Pilgrimage Center. An important event while in Volodymyr-Volynskyi was UGCC Primate’s visit to the ancient Cathedral of the Volodymyr bishops – the Sviato Uspensky Cathedral.  Here the Church primate prayed by the miraculous Crucifix (end of 15th century) at which during his time in the Church of St. Paraskevia, the Priest Martyr Josaphat had prayed, and where a spark from the Crucifix warmed his heart. After the Akathist to St.Josaphat, the Head and Father of Greek-Catholics voiced his conviction that the figure of Saint Martyr Josaphat can unite all the Churches in Ukraine.  “For us the figure of St. Josaphat is especially meaningful…  During my visits to Rivne, Lutsk, Zdolbuniv, Dubno all the people whom I met asked me when the Churches in Ukraine will finally unite?   When will the moment come when Ukrainians will be able to rejoice in a united particular Church – the Church of the Kyiv tradition which was born 1025 years ago? What can be done in order to have the Church resurrect its original unity?  I think that the figure of Josaphat provides us with a unique answer. After all, it is specifically our Church that has him as the first martyr for the unity of Christ’s Church.  He is the one who sacrificed his life so that all would be one.” On March 30th, His Beatitude Sviatoslav arrived in Kovel where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the Church of the Blessed Martyr Mykola Charnetsky.  During his sermon he especially welcomed representatives of the “brotherly Orthodox Churches, reverend clergy who came in order to pray together.” The visit of UGCC head to the Lutsk Exarchate ended on March 31st in Lutsk, where it had begun.  The visit was concluded with a Pontifical Divine Liturgy with concelebrant Bishop Josaphat (Hovera), Lutsk Exarch, in the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother.  Prior to this, His Beatitude Sviatoslav had blessed the iconostasis in St. Basil the Great Church. After the Divine Liturgy, the Church Primate shared with those present impressions of visiting the Lutsk Exarchate and thanked all who serve there.  In summary, His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted that today the exarchate is similar to the mustard seed which is the smallest of all seeds, but has within it so much life energy that “it will grow into a giant tree, in whose crown heaven’s birds will find their rest.” UGCC Head invited all with whom he met: officials of administrations, young people, all faithful, clergy to participate in the All-National Pilgrimage to the Patriarchal Cathedral in Kyiv during which – on August 18th – the building of the cathedral will be blessed. UGCC Department of Information
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