“We weep your tears, and the blood you spill is also our blood”: the representatives of the UGCC from around the world described solidarity with Ukraine during the session of the All-Church Forum.

March 11, 2023, 23:26 29

On March 11th, 2023 the III session of the All-Church Forum of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church ended after its second meeting (online format). Over 130 delegates from around the world participated together with their bishops.

“We weep your tears, and the blood you spill is also our blood”: the representatives of the UGCC from around the world described solidarity with Ukraine during the session of the All-Church Forum.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the Head of the UGCC, greeted the delegates. He recalled that during the first meeting of the III session of the Forum that took place on the 4th of March, the participants heard presentations about the pastoral plan of the UGCC until 2030 as well as the pastoral program for healing the wounds of the war. Subsequently the delegates of specific eparchies of Ukraine—Sambirska-Drohobytska, Stryiska, Sokalska-Zhovkivska, Buchatska, Kolomyiska—shared their experiences of pastoral service during the full-scale war in Ukraine.

Today, in the words of His Beatitude Sviatoslav, “Ukraine’s pain echoes throughout diverse corners of our Church on all continents of the planet. Therefore, the delegates spoke of their pastoral experience from eparchies from various corners of the world—Wrocław—Koszalin, Olsztyn-Gdańsk, Prudentopolis, Edmonton, Toronto, Saskatoon, New Westminster, Chicago, Parma and Stamford, and also from the Pastoral-immigration division of the UGCC.

The representative from the eparchy of Chernivtsi was given the opportunity to speak, since technical difficulties did not allow him to join last time. He explained that his eparchy is focusing on the educational and practical preparation of priests who are ministering to migrants and refugees. Because the province hasn’t been bombarded, they are able to organize their work for those in need.

The delegate from Wrocław—Koszalin, Mrs. Ivona Martsishak, reported that near 10 million Ukrainians have crossed the border to Poland since the start of the war. Many parishes mobilized in order to help them secure basic needs. “In the past year, 14 new parishes were created in the eparchy. In addition, much humanitarian cargo and transport were supplied for hospitals and troops.”

Fr. Stepan Prykhozhdenko, the Olsztyn-Gdańsk delegate, described the systemic aid the eparchy provided Ukrainian refugees.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav thanked our Polish Church organizations for their service, noting that, thanks to their work, many of our refugees can experience Ukrainian language, culture, and traditions.

Mrs Nadir Vozivoda, the Prudentopolis delegate, reported that a significant number of Ukrainian refugees reached Brazil. “Our local Church is focused presently on finding vocations to religious life and priesthood, since there is a serious lack of clergy. We are also working hard at raising the local community’s level of religious formation”, — she explained.

Afterwords, Fr. Julian Bilyj of the Edmonton eparchy gave his presentation. He explained that to date over 100 thousand refugees in Canada receive aid from our pastoral organizations. Our Church in Canada works closely with other Ukrainian organizations to find homes, provide material necessities and facilitate social integration for refugees.

Fr. Andrij Onuferko spoke next, from the Toronto eparchy. He described how from the start of the war, all eparchial and parish communities mobilized to help Ukraine. All aid was coordinated with partner organizations of Caritas (Catholic Near East Welfare Association — CNEWA), in keeping with Canadian laws regarding transfer of funds.

Then, Fr. Roman Artymovych, spoke about how the territory of his Chicago eparchy affords significant opportunities for providing aid for Ukraine, both from areas of high density Ukrainian population and from where there are very few Ukrainians. “We buy large quantities of necessities for the military and send shipments of humanitarian aid and we provide financial aid. Our eparchy works a great deal on the informational front, running meetings where we present the reality of the war in Ukraine to Americans.”

Mrs Olena Korenda, from the Parma eparchy, explained that in addition to various material aid, attention is dedicated to support through prayer, healing morally and spiritually the trauma suffered by the refugees who have arrived en masse in America.

From the Stamford eparchy Mrs Sofia Schur outlined the pastoral activities, both within and beyond the eparchy (through material assistance), involved a huge number of faithful. She described the solidarity of the Stamford clergy and faithful with Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees saying: “We weep your tears and the blood you spill is also our blood”.

The Patriarch of the UGCC responded to the testimony of the delegates saying “Thank you for witnessing your unity with Ukraine. Your words of sharing the tears and the blood we shed here in Ukraine will remain a testament to the unity of our Church throughout the war, especially during our Forum. This is a motto that can be carved on the facades of our Churches.”

Bishop Stepan Sus, representing the Pastoral-migration division, reported that the division encompasses over 60 priest and many faithful who live in 18 cities worldwide. Today he is in Cyprus, where almost 20 thousand refugees joined a Ukrainian Greco-Catholic community of 5 thousand. The newcomers have since created 3 parishes for themselves.

Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak of Winnipeg presented the service of the eparchial organizations of the Eparchy of Saskatoon.

To conclude, His Beatitude Sviatoslav thanked the delegates for having the patience and time to hear the beating of the aching heart of Ukraine, the Ukrainian people and our Church.

“These two evenings have been an extraordinary space of healing. After all, what is necessary for healing? We need to be together and have a chance to pour out our pain to one another. These have been evenings of healing the wounds of war, underlined the Patriarch, adding: Please carry our collective gratitude to the communities you have represented during the Forum. I am convinced that the inner strength that we discover in the unity of our global community, our global Church, guarantees that we are invincible”.

“Ukraine was, is and will be. Our Church was, is and will be the soul of Ukraine, her people. Thank you for your witness, the outpouring of your feelings, your emotions, for the colossal work you have done and continue to do. We believe that life is stronger than death and truth always prevails. Ukrainian victory is forged before our eyes” affirmed Sviatoslav.

The UGCC Department for Information

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