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Priests from 11 Countries Convene at Seminar in Athens

June 4, 2024, 07:00 54

A spiritual and formational seminar of the UGCC Pastoral Migration Department (PMD) for priests who care for the faithful of the Church in countries where there are no UGCC structures has begun in Athens. This year’s theme of the seminar was “Healing the Wounds of War.”

Priests from 11 Countries Convene at Seminar in Athens

This was reported by the UGCC Pastoral and Migration Department.

The event is attended by 53 priests from Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, the United Arab Emirates, Slovakia, Greece, Israel, Cyprus, Austria, Spain, and Portugal.

The goal of the seminar is to empower priests to better understand the needs and problems of people affected by war and to equip them with the knowledge and skills to provide professional help and care.

At the beginning of the meeting, the head of the Pastoral Migration Department, Rev. Stepan Sus, greeted the priests and expressed his wish that they would be able to better understand the needs and problems of people affected by war.

The head of the UGCC Commission on Pastoral HealthCare, Sr. Sevastiana Karvatska, who joined online, presented a certified program for UGCC clergy called “Healing the Wounds of War.” The main goal of this program is to teach priests to provide professional help and care to those who have suffered physically and psychologically as a result of the war. The program consists of three blocks: psychological, pastoral, and biblical. To date, more than 1,000 UGCC priests have completed the program. During the seminar, participants will master this course.

The Apostolic Exarch for Catholics of the Byzantine Rite in Greece, Bishop Manuel Nin, also made a statement. “I welcome you to Greece, to this church, which has been hospitably hosting a large Ukrainian Greek Catholic community for almost three decades. I want to assure you that this community is experiencing the military situation in Ukraine with suffering and communion, in prayer and hope. Since the beginning of the war, our Church has been living in prayer and charity, and many trucks with essential supplies collected in this hall have been sent to help those in need,” the bishop said.

Father Taras Mykhailchuk, rector of the Garrison Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Lviv, shared his experience of chaplaincy with the seminar participants. He remarked that the church goes through different moments, and it often happens that funerals, baptisms, and marriages occur on the same day. This presents a challenge for a priest to find the appropriate mood and the right words for everyone. Fr. Taras also spoke about his travels to the East, even to ground zero, to visit soldiers in need of spiritual care. He shared how last year, before Easter, the soldiers painted pysanky at their positions and sent them to the church along with a photo of the process. In total, the defenders made 150 Easter eggs. “I didn’t know what to say at the sermon on the day of the Resurrection, but looking at those photos, I saw the Resurrection in the eyes of the military when they painted these Easter eggs,” said the priest.

Fr. Taras also emphasized the importance of keeping in touch with military families and children so that they do not feel abandoned. He noted that chaplains provide spiritual support to families who have lost their loved ones in the war.

The first day of the seminar ended with a liturgy led by Bishop Stepan.

The UGCC Department for Information

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