August 27, 2019


The Archbishop of Winnipeg, Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, leaves today to Rome to attend the annual Synod of the Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church (UGCC). Except for rare occasions, since Ukraine was released from the "iron curtain" of the USSR and the Ukrainian Church emerged from the "catacombs" of Communist persecution at the end of the 1980s, the Bishops of the UGCC have met in Ukraine. However, the Synod has been convened in the United States, in Brazil and, of course, in Canada in 2012. They chose to meet again outside of Ukraine and in Rome in particular, as the Ukrainian Catholic minor basilica of Holy Sophia is commemorating 50 years since Pope St. Paul VI and the Servant of God Patriarch Joseph Slipyj, consecrated and opened the Holy Sophia Cathedral and the Ukrainian Catholic University of Pope St. Clement. Just prior to the Synod, the Bishops and the Ukrainian Catholic community and friends will participate in celebrations at the site of Holy Sophia on Via Boccea.

Reflecting on the upcoming Synod, Metropolitan Lawrence noted that of notable significance right from the start was that all the Ukrainian Catholic bishops from around the world have been invited to Rome to participate in the gathering. Something that has not happened for quite some time. They will be meeting, for the most part, at the Pontifical Ukrainian Seminary of St. Josaphat situated between the Romanian and North American (U.S.) Pontifical Colleges upon Rome's Janiculum Hill. The 'Collegio San Giosafat', at this location, has been an institution of higher learning and training for 87 years (although a Ukrainian college/seminary in Rome dates back centuries). Several priests now serving within the Archeparchy of Winnipeg, did all or some of their studies in Rome while staying at "St Josaphat's". However, it has changed much over the years with rooms now all equipped with private washrooms and in-house phones as well as major renovations to the dining hall and conference facilities. It is practically in the heart of the city and only a short walk from St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican. Therefore, it is very suitable for bishops to reside there and hold their synodal sessions.

His Grace, Metropolitan Lawrence - as do all the bishops - received the pre-synodal package of documents in order to better prepare for the sessions and deliberations. The principal theme of the Synod will be that of "communion"... the relationship that needs to be ever strengthened and renewed between the Lord and His People and that bond between all the People of God - especially when they belong to a particular Church. This is one of the six major priorities of the global "Vibrant Parish" movement (see below) that the Synods have been dealing with over the years. Archbishop Huculak was asked to prepare a paper for presentation at the special meeting between the Ukrainian Catholic Hierarchy and Pope Francis in Rome in early July. He was also asked to prepare a presentation for the upcoming Synod on the concept of 'communion' within and throughout the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada - i.e. the metropolitan province that he oversees.

Metropolitan Lawrence also mentioned that the future of the Vibrant Parish movement - which had a mandate until the year 2020 - will be discussed. The newly established Pastoral Council within the Church's Patriarchal Curia will also be explored. This is of particular interest as the Pastoral Council is to be an advisory body that includes the whole church worldwide.

Events to commemorate the 100th anniversary since the death of Blessed Josaphata are also included in the 10-day Synod program. Needless-to-say, many themes will be discussed and decisions made. Usually many groups try to get at least a few minutes to present their concerns or give updates on the progress of the mandate given them by the Synod. It will be a full, potentially exhausting schedule, but hopefully all the bishops will return with a refreshed heart and soul that progress is being made in the general mandate of the Church to keep the faith, live in holiness and spread the Gospel message to all peoples.

Keep the Bishops and the Synod in your prayer. It concludes September 10th. Updates will be provided as made available...


A section of the 2011 Vibrant Parish Pastoral Letter that speaks of "communion" within the Church.....


The Acts of the Apostles convey a sense of profound unity which existed among the members of the first community of Christ's disciples: "The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common".(Act 4:32). This spiritual state of being of the first Christian community can be expressed with the term koinonia (communion) which conveys unity, harmony and common life. To be Church is to abide in the communion of the Holy Spirit, the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God the Father. Thus, the unity of the church is an icon of the unity of Persons of the Holy Trinity. This unity can be seen on different levels: on the level of the Universal and Particular Church, the eparchy, and the individual parish. It may happen that through our weakness and sinfulness we do not reflect this unity. Ever aware of this, we all must cherish and foster unity, preserving full communion with the successor of the apostle Peter, the Holy Father, with the hierarchy of our Church, with the local bishops and pastors who act in their name. The parish is a community of communities. In a parish there will be various prayer groups, brotherhoods, and youth organizations. All of these are called to strengthen unity and love among the members of the parish community. By supporting one another through prayer, by sharing God's gifts and working together in a Christ-like spirit of service, we will be able to bring to life our synodal program: "Holiness of a united people of God." We cannot be indifferent to the fact that the descendants of the Baptism under St. Volodymyr today are divided and estranged from one another. At the Last Supper, Christ prayed to His Heavenly Father for His disciples, "that all may be one" (John 17:21). Bearing in mind these words of Christ, I sincerely ask you all today - let us pray for the unity of the Church, let us pray for the restoration of unity of all the churches of the Kyivan tradition. And above all, in the spirit of the love of Christ, let us make every effort to avoid any words or actions which could damage our brothers and sisters in Christ or offend them. Even though at times we may be subjected to mockery and pressure, let us not give in to the temptation to respond to evil with evil. May Christ's prayer for his wrong-doers and the teaching of the Apostle of the Nations become a testament for us: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom 12:21).

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