Apostolic Exarchate of Italy


The Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainians of the Byzantine Rite in Italy takes care of Ukrainian Greek Catholics in the territory of the Italian Republic. Thus, the total area of the exarchate reaches 301,338 km2, and the population is 61,261,254 people.

The jurisdiction of the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainians of the Byzantine rite extends to the entire territory of the Italian Republic.

To ensure effective pastoral activity, the Apostolic Exarchate was divided into three protopresbyters:

  • Northwest (76 parishes);
  • Central (31 parishes);
  • Southern (50 parishes).

According to statistics from 2018, spiritual care for about 70,000 believers united in 146 communities is provided by 65 priests.

Usually, Ukrainian believers gather for prayer and joint meetings in the churches of the Roman Catholic Church in Italy, and in recent years 18 shrines have been given for exclusive use to Ukrainian communities (Avellino, Bologna, Vittorio Veneto, Caserta, Cagliari, Livorno, Naples, Novara, Pavia, Padua, Pescara, Reggio Emilia, Salerno, Ferrara, Florence, Foggia, Foligno). In addition, seven communities have already acquired the official status of personal parishes: Avellino, Bologna, Caserta, Livorno, Rome, Pavia, and Florence.

Every year, the Secretariat of the Apostolic Visitor conducts a sociological survey of the state of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Italy (by interviewing pastors and analyzing the general statistical indicators of various sociological services in the field of migration). It is interesting to note that according to a survey of pastors, Sunday services are regularly attended by an average of almost 16,000 people in 146 communities of the UGCC in Italy. More than 50,000 believers take part in the Easter Liturgy. According to statistics, the number of believers and communities in Italy today is much higher than in diaspora dioceses and the process of arrival of new migrants does not stop. In Italy, the presence of monastic male and female congregations, as well as two Ukrainian Pontifical Colleges (since 2014, both institutions have been reduced to one Ukrainian Pontifical College of St. Josaphat) has been a favorable condition for the pastoral care of the faithful of the UGCC.

The number of Ukrainian children in Italy has been growing every year. Some of them come through family reunification, and some are born in Italy to Ukrainian or mixed families. Today, there are 37 Sunday schools in the church community where children study the catechism, Ukrainian language and culture, and often some subjects that are not included in Italian curricula. In this case, Ukrainian schools in Italy operate under an agreement with the International Ukrainian School (MUS, Kyiv), which conducts state final certification and issues a certificate of complete general secondary education of the state standard (there are two such schools in the UGCC today in Caserta and  Pompeii). In Rome, at the Cathedral of St. Sophia, the Sisters of the Servant of the Immaculate Virgin Mary are engaged in catechesis and schooling, at the parish of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus there are Sisters of the Catechist of St. Anne, in Pompeii, there are Sisters of the Holy Family, in Capua, there are Sisters of Myrrh, in the cities of Modena and Mantova there is the Congregation of the Sisters of Divine Providence.

The unification of Ukrainian immigrants in Italy is facilitated by various cultural and artistic events, and there is a remarkable contribution of Ukrainian youth, including students and seminarians from the Ukrainian Pontifical College of St. Josaphat. For sixteen years in a row, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Italy has been organizing Mother’s Day, which is held on the territory of the Procathedral Cathedral of St. Sophia in Rome in the format of large-scale spiritual and entertainment events. Representatives of Ukrainian communities from all over Italy mostly several thousand people gather for the holiday. Folk and honored artists, and famous performers of Ukrainian songs are invited from Ukraine to the holiday. In May 2016, the holiday was held in the format of a festival of children and youth bands from Ukraine and Italy under the slogan “Give mom joy!”. This holiday can be considered the largest unifying event at the national level in Italy.

In recent years, the main efforts of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Italy have focused on the pastoral care of young people and children. Many church centers hold regular meetings of young Ukrainians with the participation of which various spiritual, cultural, and entertainment events are organized. Summer Christian camps for children and youth are held in more than ten communities.

Since 2001, on the initiative of the bright memory of Fr. Vasyl Potochnyak’s important informative and unifying factor was the Christian magazine of Ukrainians in Italy Do Svitla (To the Light). It is distributed among Ukrainians from all regions of Italy. It highlights various aspects of immigrant life as well as the Church’s place in this life. The increase in circulation and the number of contributors has proved that the magazine has not only informational but also unifying power and educates Ukrainians in the conviction not to shy away from Ukrainians and their traditions. The website (www.chiesaucraina.it) has been available on the Internet since 2008, is owned by the Secretariat of the Apostolic Visitor, and informs about the activities of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Italy, events in church communities, immigration through the prism of church doctrine, etc. On this web resource, you can also get acquainted with the coordinates of all pastoral centers of the UGCC in Italy and the schedule of services in them.

For the seventh year in a row, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Italy has been organizing a Christmas national pilgrimage to the papal basilicas of Rome. In 2011, the first such pilgrimage took place to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on the occasion of the Holy Father Benedict XVI receiving a gift from Ukraine that was a Christmas tree that decorated St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican for Christmas. More than 5,000 believers took part in the pilgrimage. Since 2011, Ukrainian migrants from Italy have been carrying out an annual joint national pilgrimage to the Lourdes holiday destination (France), and since 2015, to Fatima (Portugal). In addition, there are a number of other annual church pilgrimages to such holiday places as Bari (relics of St. Nicholas), Padua (relics of St. Anthony), and more. All these pilgrimages, which have become another spiritual and cultural unifying factor of Ukrainians in Italy are led by the Apostolic Visitor Bishop Dionysius Lyakhovych. There are various prayer communities in the UGCC communities in Italy, but the most common of them is Mothers in Prayer.

Twice a year, priests who are pastors in Italy, led by the Apostolic Visitor, gather for several days of general meetings and retreats during which they consider further strategies for the development of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Italy.



Bishop Dionysius Lyakhovych has been the Exarch of the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian Catholics living in Italy since December 1, 2020.

The cathedral and seat of the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainians of the Byzantine rite in Italy is the parish church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus and the icon of Our Lady of Zhyrovytsia in Rome.


At the beginning of the 90s, the formation of communities in different cities of Italy looked very chaotic and had little family (family members gathered) or bazaar (gathered in the part of the city where buses came from Ukraine) character. Realizing the need for the spiritual care of Ukrainians by the Church, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church began to care for the formation of church communities in major Italian cities, which in agreement with the Italian episcopate were allowed to serve in Roman Catholic churches. The preconditions for such actions of the Church were quite good since there were two Ukrainian colleges in Rome where seminarians and priests studied who gladly supported the idea of ​​spiritual guidance for Ukrainians in Italy. The presence of the Church has become a cementing factor in the consolidation of the Ukrainian people and a guarantor of the preservation of its spirituality, culture, and identity.

In 1999, by order of the then Proto Archimandrite of OSBM Fr. Dionysius Lyakhovych (now a bishop and Apostolic Visitator for Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Italy and Spain) and with the assistance of Basilian Fathers, the monastery church of this Order was opened in Rome and immediately became very popular among Ukrainians. It was the only Ukrainian parish of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus that also became the center for the creation of the first Ukrainian parish in all of Italy. This church became the main center from which the pastoral ministry among Ukrainian labor migrants began to grow and spread throughout Italy. As the number of Ukrainian migrants began to grow in early 2000, the then parish priest of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus in Rome Fr. Ivan Muzychka together with the Basilian priests began to actively carry out their pastoral work in the parish, and also, seeing the great need to serve the Ukrainian faithful outside Rome, began to travel to Naples and other cities. From that time on, the search for Ukrainians to form ecclesiastical communities in the larger cities of Italy began, which in agreement with the Italian episcopate were allowed to serve in Roman Catholic churches. Ukrainian clergy students who came to Rome to study came to help in fulfilling this ministry too. From that moment, the first pastoral activity of UGCC priests for Ukrainian migrants, who felt great need and longing for their Church, began.

On October 16, 2001, by agreement of His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar, Father and Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and the Conference of Bishops of Italy, the first Pastoral Coordinator for Ukrainians in Italy was appointed in memory of Fr. Vasyl Potochnyak. In addition to caring for the spiritual care of those Italian territories where a large number of Ukrainian migrants were concentrated Fr. Vasyl Potochnyak also had to establish contacts between the already existing Ukrainian communities. His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar remarked to the father in an interview at the time: “He is, so to speak, a mediator between people in need and between bishops who are responsible for spiritual service and need our help. He is a representative and mediator between the local hierarchy and the hierarchy of Ukraine. “Therefore, the first coordinator had to find contact with local bishops and clergy, find Ukrainian faithful, and organize pastoral life in those areas where it was needed. In addition, he had to establish contact with the chaplain fathers, who were already fulfilling their pastoral work at that time, and develop new strategies and directions for pastoral ministry. About ten fathers attended the first meeting of the chaplain fathers that took place on November 1, 2001, at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Rome, and they were: Fr. I. Muzychka, Fr. M. Gavrilov, Fr. O. Lisovsky, Fr. J. Karpiak, Fr. M. Ivanyshyn, Fr. P. Visochan, Fr. O. Saranchuk, Fr. A. Seneiko, Fr. W. Zeykan, Fr. I. Dufanets headed by the coordinator Fr. Vasily Potochnyak. Thanks to the hard work and activity of these priests, the number of newly formed communities throughout Italy began to grow rapidly. Thus, thanks to the active joint efforts of the then proto archimandrite Fr. Dionysius Lyakhovych, OSBM, pastor of the Ukrainian parish of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus in Rome Fr. Ivan Muzychka, the pastoral coordinator for Ukrainians in Italy Fr. Vasyl Potochnyak, and the cooperation of several dozen priests, the total number of UGCC communities in Italy in 2003 was at least 50. This period between 1999 and 2003 was the first stage in the formation of the Ukrainian community in Italy and was preparatory that helped Ukrainians in Italy not to get ‘lost’ in a foreign world.

Thanks to such relentless and tireless work of the chaplain fathers, as of January 30, 2002, there were already 32 Greek Catholic communities in 30 cities in Italy. Meetings of priests with the coordinator Fr. Vasyl Potochnyak became regular and each time opened new horizons for the completion and improvement of the spiritual life in migration. Every month new communities were formed, new people came, and the UGCC spread information more and more throughout the Italian state.

Also, in addition to joint prayers, Divine Liturgies, pilgrimages, holding and celebrations, which helped unite the Ukrainian people into one church community, on the initiative of Fr. Vasyl Potochnyak it was organized a grand charitable spiritual event Mother’s Day, which took place on May 18–19, 2002 in Rome. All existing Ukrainian communities led by their pastors, as well as all Ukrainian workers and people of goodwill were invited to this holiday. This event became a place of great meeting, a place where a large number of Ukrainian workers from all over the country gathered together. Different groups of people from different cities, different ages, and statuses came together here. Indeed, their only goal was to meet people close to them in spirit, with common beliefs, faith, and culture. At least these people wanted even for such a short time to feel like Ukrainians, to hear their native song, Ukrainian language, and the smell of their native land. Each participant in this event became an integral “brick” in the construction of the spiritual and cultural life of Ukrainian migrants in Italy. After the end of this holiday, all participants looked at their stay in migration in a new way, feeling that they are not only oppressed and abandoned by their workers, who have no social protection and rights in a foreign country. But thanks to the Church have the opportunity to feel like Ukrainians and to experience the spirit of the native Motherland even in a foreign country. This holiday also became a good advertisement that was able to generate new desires among Ukrainians to create Ukrainian Christian communities in their cities.

During the service of the first coordinator for Ukrainians in Italy, Fr. Vasyl Potochnyak, and undoubtedly through his efforts more than seventy Ukrainian communities were formed in various cities of Italy.  For each of them, the father made his efforts and personally took care of their spiritual, cultural, and social life. All these efforts and great zeal to fulfill his ministry and responsibilities, first of all as a pastor and coordinator for the Ukrainian faithful, became the basis for the creation of one great Ukrainian family in the bosom of Christ’s Church: “Father Vasyl was a creative missionary, a zealous pastor. He treated his priestly duties with love and responsibility. He loved the Church which was scattered throughout the world. His own family is also scattered around the world of the former Soviet Union. He longed for the unity of his family and could serve those scattered throughout Europe to unite them at least into a single community, a single family called the Church. “

On January 14, 2003, by the official decree of His Holiness John Paul II, at the request of His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar, by the decision of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC, His Eminence Bishop Hlib Lonchyna was appointed Apostolic Visitator for Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Italy. Thanks to the cooperation of the Apostolic Visitor and the Pastoral Coordinator, the pastoral centers of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Italy were organized in almost all major centers of Ukrainian concentration. In 2005, their number reached almost 70.

In addition to the establishment and creation of new Ukrainian communities, no less important event for the organization of the Ukrainian diaspora was the II Forum of Ukrainians in Italy that took place on the occasion of Mother’s Day on May 8, 2004, and was headed by O. Gorodetsky. It was attended by representatives of more than seventy Italian cities where Ukrainians were. Representatives of the Ukrainian state were also present namely, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Italy and the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Holy See. The result of this Forum was a joint appeal to the President and the Verkhovna Rada to ensure the constitutional right of all willing Ukrainian citizens in Italy to vote in the election of the President of Ukraine, opening the required number of polling stations. This forum was also important in that the people were united by the church and national ideas that formed the basis of the previous generations of the Ukrainian diaspora which numbered about seventy-five communities in 2005.

Bishop Dionysius Lyakhovych notes another important socio-cultural marker of this period which is the Church’s openness to structural change. After all, for the first time in Rome, the Office of the Apostolic Visitator began to operate which also allowed pastors from all regions of Italy to gather regularly for joint prayers and meetings, which in turn further centralized spiritual missions in these areas.

It was at this time that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Italy began its path to structuring. In particular, the Office of the Apostolic Visitor (in the premises of the Patriarchal Court, Madonna Dei Monti, 3), which was cared for by the Chancellor, in memory of Fr. Andrian Tsukui and the Secretary, Ms. Maria Govgera. In addition, at that time, pastors from different regions of Italy began to gather regularly for joint meetings under the leadership of the bishop. In March 2005, the Permanent Council of the Episcopal Conference of Italy appointed a new Pastoral Coordinator, Fr. Alexander Sapunko, and in January 2011 Fr. Mark Yaroslav Semegen, today’s chairman of the Religious Society of Ukrainian Catholics St. Sophia in Italy and rector of the Pro-Cathedral of St. Sophia in Rome. In March 2016, the Permanent Council of the Episcopal Conference of Italy appointed Fr. Volodymyr Voloshin pastor of the UGCC communities in the central Italian cities of Florence and Prato.

In October 2004, the government of the coordinator of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church communities in Italy, Fr. Vasyl Potochnyak was terminated. On March 3, 2005, the Permanent Council of the Episcopal Conference of Italy appointed Fr. Oleksandr Sapunko who became the successor of that important work but with his peculiarities and a different approach to ministry.

From 2005 to 2011, the number of UGCC communities in Italy reached almost 150 and remains so (146).

At the beginning of 2009, another change took place for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Italy. On January 7, 2009, His Holiness Benedict XVI appointed His Eminence Bishop Dionysius Lyakhovych as Apostolic Visitor for Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Italy and Spain. The seat of the Apostolic Visitor all these years was in the premises of the Patriarchal Court, on Madonna Dei Monti, 3, in Rome. The Secretariat of the Apostolic Visitor, the press service of the UGCC in Italy (www.chiesaucraina.it), and the editorial board of the Christian magazine for Ukrainians in Italy “Do Svitla’’ operate here. In addition, it should be noted that under the Secretariat of the Apostolic Visitor the Sisters of the Servant of the Immaculate Virgin Mary are also in charge of coordinating catechesis (2013–2014 — Melania Sidoryk, CIS; since 2014, Eusebius Mudraninets, CIS).

On July 11, 2019, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had created an Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian Catholics of the Byzantine Rite living in Italy. At the same time, the Holy Father appointed Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome as Apostolic Administrator of the vacant seat of the newly created Exarchate.

Then, on September 5, 2019, in the Roman Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, during a solemn Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of the Reverend Mother Josaphata attended by the Bishops of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC, which took place in Rome on September 1–10, Cardinal Angelo de Donatis, Vicar of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome, addressed Bishop Dionysius Lyakhovych regarding his appointment as Delegate of the Apostolic Administrator of the Exarchate for Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Italy. In the Decree of the nomination of Bishop Dionysius Lyakhovych it is said: “In the decree of the nomination by the Apostolic Administrator of the vacant seat for the faithful Ukrainians of the Byzantine rite in Italy and by current legislation I was given the mandate to adopt a pastoral government in the name of the Roman Pontiff with the rights and duties of Exarch. Having the duty to take care of the appointment of a Delegate with full rights of the Apostolic Exarch for faithful Ukrainians of the Byzantine rite and taking into account that you have already fulfilled the government of the Apostolic Visitor, fulfilling this duty very fruitfully, I nominate you Delegate with full rights of Apostolic Exarch for faithful Ukrainians of the Byzantine rite in Italy.” In turn, Bishop Dionysius said: “Thank God for everything, as well as for all those who supported me. It has been a long road and we are coming to a new stage with your help and prayers.


Address: Piazza Madonna Dei Monti, 3, 00184 Roma, Italia

Phone: +39 (06) 474-40-68
Fax: +39 (06) 487-39-03

Email: [email protected]

Website: esarcato-apostolico-ucraino.it