Annual Meeting of the Patriarchal Commission on Clergy of the UGCC Held in Rome

May 16, 2024, 18:30 235

The annual meeting of the UGCC Patriarchal Commission on Clergy was held in Rome from May 12 to 15. The commission members met with Holy Father Francis during a general papal audience at the Vatican.

Annual Meeting of the Patriarchal Commission on Clergy of the UGCC Held in Rome

The meeting occurred at the Pontifical College of St. Josaphat, invited by the rector, Fr. Luis Casiano. It began with a Divine Liturgy presided over by Rev. Bohdan Danylo. In his sermon, the head of the commission asked the college’s seminarians to pray for new vocations to the priestly order in our Church.

During the first session, Bishop Bohdan Danylo welcomed all commission members, inviting them to share their seminary experiences during the war, discuss the difficulties and challenges faced in the 2023–2024 academic year, and plan for the upcoming admission campaign at UGCC seminaries.

The second day’s morning session focused on supporting and assisting seminarians during wartime. Guest speaker Fr. Robert Lyseyko, Protoarchimandrite of the Order of St. Basil the Great, emphasized the importance of building a true seminary community.

“Living in a community is essential for building trust, a key element of seminary formation. For the confessor and prefect to support the seminarian, they must also care for their mental and spiritual health,” said Father Robert. He also stressed the importance of educating future priests to be compassionate shepherds, especially in times of war, as they have witnessed death and experienced dramatic moments in life.

The commission members also met with Fr. Hans Zollner, director of the Institute of Anthropology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Fr. Zollner highlighted the importance of creating a holy and safe environment to prevent clergy sexual abuse. He noted that attention must also be paid to power abuse and spiritual and emotional abuse, stating, “All these elements should be considered in community formation and practices.”

During a meeting with the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Holy See, Andriy Yurash, Bishop Bohdan outlined the Patriarchal Commission’s activities and the challenges faced by UGCC seminaries during the war. They also discussed the difficulties seminarians face when leaving Ukraine for higher studies in Italy.

A significant spiritual highlight was the Divine Liturgy at the tomb of St. Josaphat in St. Peter’s Cathedral. In his sermon, Father Yuriy Kolasa, Vicar General for the faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches in Austria, noted that St. Josaphat’s relics were once in Vienna before coming to Rome. “Martyr Josaphat was persecuted both during his life and posthumously. Russians even tried to steal his relics from Austrian soldiers. Just as St. Josaphat’s blood became the seed for our Church, it can now be a catalyst for its revival.”

After the Liturgy, the commission members attended a general audience with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square. After the audience, they had the opportunity to speak with the Holy Father. The Pope greeted them in Ukrainian with “Christ is Risen!” and Bishop Bohdan introduced the commission members. Pope Francis recalled his childhood with Ukrainian Bishop Stepan Chmil in Argentina, noting that “Bishop Chmil was a bishop of a persecuted Church.”

Concluding their program, the commission members visited the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches and met with Cardinal Claudio Gugerotti, Prefect of the Dicastery, and Fr. Filippo Ciampanelli, Deputy Secretary. The Dicastery leaders were briefed on the commission’s activities and achievements. Cardinal Gugerotti extended his gratitude to all UGCC priests for their dedicated ministry and reminded them that the Dicastery is always ready to help heal the wounds of the Ukrainian people.

The next meeting of the Patriarchal Commission is scheduled for May 12–15 in Vienna, Austria.

The participants of the meeting were: Bishop Bohdan Danylo, head of the Patriarchal Commission for Clergy, Fr. Taras Putko, Rector of the Ivano-Frankivsk Theological Seminary named after the Holy Martyr Josaphat, Fr. Taras Putko, Rector of the Ivano-Frankivsk Theological Seminary named after the Holy Martyr Josaphat, Fr. Myron Bendyk, Rector of the Drohobych Theological Seminary of the Blessed Martyrs Severyn, Vitaliy and Yakym; Fr. Ivan Rymar, rector of the Ternopil Higher Theological Seminary named after Patriarch Josyf Slipyj; Fr. Panteleimon Trofimov, rector of the Basilian Institute of Philosophical and Theological Studies; Fr. Nazariy Kashak, rector of the Eparchial Seminary named after Blessed Omelyan Kovch, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Fr. Julian Bilyi, rector of the Ukrainian Catholic Seminary of the Holy Spirit, Edmonton, Canada; Fr. Andriy Onuferko, chairman of the Subcommittee on Support and Continuing Formation of the Priesthood of the Patriarchal Commission on Clergy, Fr. Yuriy Kolasa, member of the Subcommittee for the Support and Continuing Formation of the Priesthood of the Patriarchal Commission on Clergy, Fr. Robert Hitchens, rector of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Seminary, Washington, D. C., Fr. Bohdan Tymchyshyn, rector of St. Basil’s Ukrainian Catholic Seminary, Stamford, N. Y., Fr. Petro Beresh, rector of Uzhhorod Theological Seminary, and Natalia Tsyupka, secretary of the Patriarchal Commission on Clergy.

The online meeting was joined by: Fr. Oleh Kaskiv, responsible for the support and ongoing formation of the priesthood in the Ivano-Frankivsk Archeparchy and rector of the Ivano-Frankivsk Academy of St. John Chrysostom; Fr. Bohdan Prakh, until recently, the rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University; Fr. Bohdan Panchak, Rector of the Metropolitan Greek Catholic Seminary in Lublin, Poland, Fr. Oleksandr Petrynko, Rector of the Eastern College in Eichstetz, Germany, br. Irenaeus, Rector of the Basilian Seminary in Curitiba, Brazil.

The UGCC Department for Information

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