November 9, 2017


His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the Father and Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, led the funeral services in Lviv, Ukraine for Ukrainian Catholic Bishop-Emeritus of Buenos Aires, Most Reverend Andres Sapelak. Following the liturgical funeral rites held at the Salesian-operated parish church of the Protection of the Mother of God on Lychakivska Street in the city of Lviv, the earthly remains of the Bishop Sapelak were taken to the neighbouring town of Vynnyky for interment.

Bishop was born almost a century ago 13 December 1919. He joined the Salesian Order and made his perpetual profession of vows on 29 June 1946. He was ordained to the priesthood exactly three years later. He served in France, starting a minor seminary (like St. Vlad’s in Roblin) in 1951 and served as its first rector.

In 1961, he was appointed as the Bishop for Ukrainian Catholics in Argentina. It was only one year later that the Second Vatican Council began and the young Bishop Andre was swept into fully participating in this historic gathering of 2,448* Bishops from around the world. Naturally he served on the Ecumenical Council’s commission on Eastern Churches that studied all things Eastern, especially producing the document Orientalium Ecclesiarum. He served as the Bishop for all Eastern Catholics in Argentina and eventually focused primarily on Ukrainian Catholics when the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy was established in 1978. He served as Bishop in Argentina for 36 years before retiring.

It is mandated by Canon Law that a member of the clergy is to submit his resignation when he reaches the age of 75. It is usually accepted by the appropriate authority immediately (by the Bishop if it is a priest; or by the Pope or Patriarch if a Bishop; by the Synod if regards a Patriarch; but if the Pope resigns, it does not have to be accepted by anyone), but the authority may also ask that the person stay in office for a number of reasons. Bishop Sapelak served for an additional three years. When he did finally leave office, he chose to remain as active as ever – even taking on mission work that most people his age would have avoided. He started a mission church and youth centre in the eastern part of Ukraine in the city of Verkhovnodniprovsk off the far bank of the great Dnipro River. It was probably the spirit of his Salesian order of Don Bosco that inspired and compelled him to do so. It was successful. He reached out to all faiths and made his church a place of welcoming to them all. He never denied that he was a Ukrainian Catholic, but if anyone, from the various Orthodox Churches or the ‘unchurched’ came to him, he had time and a place for them all.

A SENIOR BISHOP. It is interesting to note that up until Bishop Andres’ death on November 6, 2017, there were 10 other bishops in the church that served as bishops longer than him (they are still living, of course). Surprisingly most of them are bishops-emeritus that served in South American Sees, like Bishop Sapelak (among the two exceptions is the Maronite Patriarch-emeritus of Antioch - Nasrallah Sfeir who is a year younger than Bishop Sapelak). The title of this little article says that Bishop Sapelak was the last Council ‘Father’ to have attended Vatican II…. that is of the Ukrainian Bishops. Among all the Catholic bishops still living, some 25 have been bishops long enough to have attended at least one (if not all four) sessions of the Second Vatican Council (including one Canadian: Remi De Roo, a former Bishop of Victoria, BC)


* this number eventually grew to 2,625 Bishops in the last session 1965)

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