Biography of His Beatitude Sviatoslav

Family and Childhood

He was born into the Christian family of Yuriy and Vira Shevchuk on May 5, 1970, in Stryi, Lviv region. During the period of underground activity of the UGCC, Greek Catholic priests regularly served the Divine Liturgy in the Shevchuk family home. “I was born in the city of Stryi in the Lviv region. It is such a unique and exciting city. Interesting for its history, particularly relating to the people whom the Lord placed near me at that time. My mother was a music teacher, and my father was a civil servant who worked on the railway. Apart from that, my grandparents had a significant influence on me and my imagination. My mother worked almost all her life in a music school and was a piano class teacher. My first memories are connected to the piano. Pupils came to our house, and music was constantly playing. Even when my mother was engaged in household chores, for example, cooking in the kitchen, there were always students playing the piano in the next room,” His Beatitude remarked. As His Beatitude Svyatoslav mentioned, he learned much about the Church from his grandparents, who were for him “a walking encyclopedia of both Church and national history. So they had a significant influence on me; through them, I entered the life of the Church. Incidentally, my grandparents were great friends of the Zarytskyi family. The famous priest-martyr Oleksa Zarytskyi used to come to our house and serve the Liturgy. My family on my father’s side, who came from the Frankivs’k region, from the village of Broshniv-Osada, were also very active in the underground life of the Church. In that context, I actually met Father Mykhailo Kosylo, the rector of an underground theological seminary in the Frankivs’k region.”

Since His Beatitude Sviatoslav’s mother was a music teacher, he also attended a music school, which he often talks about: “Yes, I finished the children’s music school in Stryi. Since I was familiar to some degree with the piano, yet the violin was an enigma, a mystery to me, I became interested in it. My mother’s sister was my teacher. I never associated these musical instruments with any sense of burden or duty, but only with interest. My mother studied by correspondence at the conservatory in Lviv and worked, while still a student, at a music school in Sambir. She often took me with her because there was no one to leave me with. And all those corridors and classrooms of music schools in Stryi and Sambir — that was where I grew up.”

“Later, when I went to school, my mother took me to her music school and I would do my homework there. Imagine a music lesson: a desk, a piano, a student sitting at it, my mother next to him, and I am doing my school assignments next to her. And mom is listening to the student playing, simultaneously watching what I’m doing. And only after I finished everything could I pack up and go home.” Today, it’s not very often that he can pick up a violin: “I play when no one is listening. My favorite composer is Antonio Vivaldi. I played many of his concerts at the music school. I remember those childhood feelings of such bright, joyful music when I was able to visit Venice as a theology student in Rome. You can only fully understand Vivaldi’s music when you come to the city where he lived and feel the water moving in the Venetian canals. For me, the sense of hearing has become an essential part of my perception of the world, especially in my first contact with church life, the underground Church in particular. It began with joining an environment of cantors and singers. Then, from the age of thirteen, I sang, learned the liturgical tones, and read the psalms in Church Slavonic. It happened that the Psalter could be read all night for the dead before a funeral.”


After graduating from Secondary School No. 10, he studied at the Boryslav Medical Collegiate. “I finished the eighth grade with flying colors and entered the Boryslav medical school. It was a crucial moment in my life — at the age of 15, I flew out of the family nest, and, in fact, I never returned to Stryi. For me, Boryslav became the second city where I grew up, a city to which I owe a lot. A fascinating group of real Galician intelligentsia gathered around the school and its teaching staff. In Boryslav, there was no dormitory at the school; you had to live in an apartment with other people. And I was fortunate to live with Polish families for the first part of my studies. And these were people who spoke Polish at home and subscribed to all the newspapers from Poland. It was there that I learned to read and converse in Polish.” “I was really into medicine,” His Beatitude remarked in one of the interviews. “It was an integral part of human life and existence, which attracted me very much. And in the underground Church, they told me: ‘Listen, you need some kind of specialty to be able to be close to people.’ For example, Metropolitan Volodymyr Sterniuk worked as a paramedic at an emergency ambulance service. So, this type of profession was very important for an underground priest.” During this period at the medical collegiate, 1983–1989, His Beatitude Sviatoslav simultaneously attended courses at an underground Greek Catholic theological seminary. “I also served as a courier, transporting certain items from the Frankivs’k region to Stryi to the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, who also had their underground community there,” the Archbishop recalled about his time in the underground.

He completed his compulsory military service in the Soviet Army. As a medical institute graduate, he served two years of conscripted service as a paramedic in a separate airfield support battalion of the Luhansk Higher Military Aviation Academy. “At first, I served in a school in the Vinnytsia region, Vapnyarka station. That’s where I actually underwent the so-called ‘young fighter’s course’ or basic training.

After that, according to my assignment, I entered the service in the Kyiv military district and served in Luhansk at the ‘Proletariat of Donbas’ Higher Military Academy for Navigators. That is the full name. I had to repeat it in Ukrainian,” His Beatitude Sviatoslav commented in an interview. After that, his life path has been exclusively connected to the Church. He observed that the high religiosity of his parents, close relatives, and Galician society as a whole, prompted him to decide to become a priest. However, he considers his acquaintance with Father Mykhailo Kosylo, a now-deceased priest of the underground church, to be a crucial influence in his decision. “During his life, he [Fr. Kosylo] served two terms in prison for his priestly activities; later, he was appointed rector of an underground seminary. This person’s strength, the strength that comes from meeting such a personality — became the final push.”


From 1991–1992, he studied at the “Don Bosco” Center for Philosophical and Theological Studies in Buenos Aires (Argentina). In his words: “When I returned from the army and wanted to resume preparation for the priesthood, the circumstances were completely different. It was no longer an underground seminary. I then joined a group formed for study in Argentina, at the request of Bishop Andrii Sapelyak. I studied there until 1993, when I finished the philosophy course. The curriculum prescribes this two-year course for preparation for the priesthood.” “When I received the visas for myself and my friends at the embassy in Moscow, I sang from joy as I walked down the street. In the beginning, I did not understand a single word of Spanish, but during the first session, I passed the philosophy exams in this language. You just have to sit down and study,” the Archbishop said, sharing his simple recipe for learning languages, as he has learned about ten. In 1992–1994, he returned to study in Ukraine, at Lviv Holy Spirit Theological Seminary.

He was ordained a subdeacon by Bishop Julian Voronovsky, and on May 21, 1994, he was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Filimon Kurchaba. His presbyteral ordination took place on June 26, 1994, from the hands of His Beatitude Myroslav Ivan Cardinal Lyubachivsky.

From 1994–1999, he studied at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Rome, Italy), where he obtained a doctorate Summa cum laude in theological anthropology and the foundations of moral theology of the Byzantine theological tradition. During his studies in Rome, he provided pastoral care to Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Athens. “I never wanted to study abroad. But I was recommended. And I went to study in Rome on His Beatitude Myroslav Cardinal Lyubachivsky’s referral. At that time, many wanted to become priests, but there weren’t enough instructors, so I went to study. But I never rushed to acquire those titles and tasks that the Lord God sent me,” His Beatitude remarked about his period of study in Rome.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk noted, that after defending his doctorate in Rome, he obtained a general audience with Pope John Paul II through the Eastern Congregation, at which he asked the Holy Father for his blessing on his mission in Ukraine. He received the words: “Go, brother, you will have a lot of work there.”

In 1999–2000, he was Prefect, and from 2000–2007, Vice-Rector of the Lviv Holy Spirit Theological Seminary.

From 2001 — Vice-Dean of the Theological Faculty of Lviv Theological Academy (now the Ukrainian Catholic University).

In 2002–2005 — Head of the Secretariat and personal secretary of His Beatitude Lubomyr Cardinal Husar, Head of the Patriarchal Curia in Lviv. Later, in March 2011, at his first press conference as Head of the UGCC, Sviatoslav Shevchuk noted: “First of all, I want to tell you that I consider myself, perhaps, a kind of spiritual son and follower of His Beatitude Lubomyr… he, like a good father, skillfully raised me…”

From June 2007 — Rector of Lviv Holy Spirit Theological Seminary.


On January 14, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI blessed the decision of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to appoint Reverend Dr. Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Rector of the Lviv Theological Seminary of the Holy Spirit, as Auxiliary Bishop of the eparchy (diocese) of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The new bishop received the titular throne of Castra di Galba.

The episcopal ordination took place on April 7, 2009, on the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv, Ukraine. In the presence of His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar, the main consecrator was His Eminence Bishop Ihor Wozniak, Archbishop of Lviv; co-consecrators were Bishop Mykhailo Mykytsei, Bishop of the Eparchy of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God in Buenos Aires, and Bishop Julian Voronovsky, Bishop of Sambir-Drohobych.

On April 10, 2010, he was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God in Buenos Aires, which had become vacant following the resignation of the previous eparchial bishop, Mykhailo Mykytsei. He met Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the current Pope Francis, during this period. “When I was sent to Argentina for episcopal service, I never even imagined that I would ever leave Argentina. I really tried to immerse myself in that culture, that way of life and thinking, and to go through the process of inculturation. I tried to become part of Argentinian society and to be everything to the people entrusted to my pastoral care. I keep in touch with those people to this day, I worry about what is happening in this or that parish,” His Beatitude Sviatoslav reminisced.

In September 2010, the Synod created a special commission, composed mainly of young bishops, including Bishop Sviatoslav. This commission was tasked with formulating a ten-year development plan for the UGCC. Upon completion of the commission’s work, Bishop Sviatoslav was already at work in another group aimed at developing specific mechanisms for implementing the provisions determined by the commission. Throughout his episcopate, Bishop Sviatoslav continued to teach. When he returned to Ukraine for the Synods, he gave lectures at the Ukrainian Catholic University and the Lviv Theological Seminary. While in Argentina, he also delivered a series of lectures on theological anthropology.

On March 23, 2011, Bishop Sviatoslav was elected Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church at the Electoral Synod of UGCC Bishops, which was attended by 40 bishops from all over the world. On March 25, this choice was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI. His Beatitude Sviatoslav was enthroned on March 27, 2011, in Kyiv, in the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, with more than 20,000 faithful from around the world in attendance. One of the most notable delegations was the Argentinian one, which came to see “their Archbishop.” It was impressive to hear the Ukrainian Argentinians, who had come to their ancestral homeland for the first time, and conversed in the well-preserved language spoken by the people of Western Ukraine one hundred years ago.

In addition to his native language, His Beatitude Sviatoslav is fluent in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Latin, Greek, and Church Slavonic.