“Our catechists are missionaries in whom the Church places its great hope,” Head of the UGCC at the pilgrimage of catechists in Zarvanytsia

July 7, 2024, 18:10 45

Today, the catechetical ministry in our Church faces a mission not only to teach our children certain knowledge but to impart to them the faith of the Church. Our catechists are true missionaries in whom the Church places great hope. Dear catechists, we especially embrace you with our gratitude and love, and thank you for leading your students through your personal testimony of discipleship, response to vocation, and the spiritual path you walk. As you follow Jesus and grow in your personal spiritual and intellectual life, you are called to bear witness to the word of the Gospel about the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Savior.

“Our catechists are missionaries in whom the Church places its great hope,” Head of the UGCC at the pilgrimage of catechists in Zarvanytsia

His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the Father and Head of the UGCC, emphasized this in his address on the Sunday of All Saints of Ukraine to more than 400 catechists who arrived from different parts of Ukraine and abroad on July 7 for a catechist pilgrimage to Zarvanytsia.

Among those present were Most Reverend David Motiuk, chairman of the UGCC Patriarchal Catechetical Commission, other UGCC bishops from Ukraine, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina, and Fr. Teodor Matsapula, I. V. E., the future bishop of the Mukachevo Greek Catholic Eparchy.

In his sermon, referencing the Sunday Gospel of Matthew 4:18–23, His Beatitude Sviatoslav spoke about an imperative moment—the calling of the first apostles by Jesus Christ.

The preacher explained that the word “go,” which Christ addressed to the apostles, means “rise again,” “receive new life,” or “be my followers, the heirs and transmitters of the work I am accomplishing with you.” “It is interesting that Christ made them witnesses to His suffering, death, and resurrection. This was the essence of the Gospel sermon they spread throughout the world… This is the task and vocation of the Church of all times and peoples,” said the Head of the UGCC.

The Patriarch assured that today’s word of God is not about the past: “Christ is speaking to you today. He is looking at you today. He is speaking to you and to me: Follow me!”

The Primate called for reflection on what it means to be a disciple of Christ. In his view, being a disciple involves three aspects: vocation, journey, and mission.

“To be a disciple of Christ means to hear His voice, to know Him, to communicate with Him, and to understand that the core of my life is in Him… He wants me and you to witness His act of salvation in the history of our nation,” the Patriarch said.

To be a Christian means to brave the journey, to go where Christ is traveling today.

“Being a disciple of Christ also means a mission. It means not only to become a disciple of Christ myself but also to make all those whom I meet along the way His disciples. Not only to follow Him myself but also to call others to follow Him. If today a Christian believer has not passed on his faith to anyone else, then he is fruitless in his mission,” added His Beatitude Sviatoslav.

The Head of the Church addressed the catechists who arrived for the pilgrimage with a special word.

“I want to thank you today, fathers and sisters, for your wonderful service, for your mission in our Church and to our nation. For this is exactly the mission described in today’s Gospel. We must not only teach the truth of the Christian faith to our youth and children but also fulfill the Christian mission—to introduce them to the living Christ, who is present among us in His Church,” the Patriarch emphasized.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav said that today’s youth often “have no questions for Jesus Christ,” perceiving Him as a person from the past. Therefore, he addressed the catechists with an admonition: “Through our mission to our children and youth, Christ must become a living Teacher who calls after Him, a living God who saves me and you today. Only to this God, to this Christ, can we pray, confess our sins, and ask for salvation and forgiveness. Only He can give us hope. Only He, leaving everything behind, can we follow on the journey of our lives.”

“Most Holy Virgin Mary, take care of all those in our Church who impart the faith to future generations—fathers, mothers in their families, our missionaries, bishops, priests, nuns, catechists—all the faithful of our Church. Mother of God, pray for Ukraine today,” the Head of the UGCC added at the end of the sermon.

Владика Давид МотюкВладика Давид Мотюк

After the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude Sviatoslav thanked the chairman of the Patriarchal Catechetical Commission, Bishop David Motiuk, for his wise and skillful leadership of the commission and for ensuring that catechists from different eparchies came to Zarvanytsia for the pilgrimage. “Catechists are the main assistants for our bishops in spreading the faith,” said the Patriarch.

Сестра Луїза ЦюпаСестра Луїза Цюпа

The Head of the Church also expressed gratitude for the service in the catechetical field to Sister Luisa Tsyupa, who was presented with two patriarchal certificates—for her service in the Patriarchal Catechetical Commission and on the occasion of its 70th anniversary. “Appreciating your zeal for the glory of God, specifically: faithful testimony of the Gospel life by vows of poverty, obedience, and purity; fostering the spirit of Christian love; service in the Patriarchal Catechetical Commission, which was crowned with many successful projects, including the publication of the Catechism Christ is our Pascha, we express our heartfelt gratitude and recognition,” reads the patriarchal letter on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Sr. Luisa.

Sister Luisa thanked His Beatitude Sviatoslav and the entire Church for the trust they have put in her and remembered Bishop Petro Stasiuk, with whom she worked for many years in the Patriarchal Catechetical Commission. Addressing the catechists, she added: “I am here today to pray with you and for you. Looking at the icon of the Mother of God, I have always asked that we, the catechists, hold Jesus in our arms like this, but at the same time see all those who need Him. That we, as catechists, lead our children, youth, and adults who have not yet come to know Jesus. As Blessed Josaphata [Hordashevska] used to say, ‘to wish and strive to ensure that Jesus is known by all.’ This is our task. And this gratitude that the Church expresses to me is expressed to my congregation and to all of you, dear catechetical community of people who have come to know God and pass Him on where we are today.”

Bishop David Motiuk thanked His Beatitude Sviatoslav for his prayers and the joint celebration of the catechist’s day. “You are our first catechist. Your example is very important to us. Thank you for doing this,” said the bishop.

During the pilgrimage, the best catechists of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church were honored. His Beatitude Sviatoslav presented more than 20 catechists from different dioceses in Ukraine and abroad with patriarchal certificates, and Bishop David received awards from the Patriarchal Catechetical Commission.

On this day, Ukrainian farmers also came on a vocational pilgrimage to Zarvanytsia. The Head of the UGCC thanked them for having bread even in times of war. Moreover, Ukraine is ready to feed the world. “Thank you, dear farmers, for having bread on the Ukrainian table,” said the Head of the UGCC.

It is worth noting that the pilgrimage of catechists and farmers took place prior to the All-Ukrainian General Pilgrimage to Zarvanytsia, which will be held next Sunday, July 14, 2024.

The UGCC Department for Information

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