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Ukrainian Catholic Bishops in Canada

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, center, celebrates the Divine Liturgy at Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral 9 Sept. in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Archbishop Shevchuk of Kiev-Hal ych, Ukraine, declared the worldwide Ukrainian Catholic Synod of Bishops officially opened. (Photo: CNS/David Lipnowski) 

11 Sep 2012 – By Barb Fraze

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (CNS) — Ukrainian Catholic bishops from around the world gathered in Canada to discuss how to make their parishes more vibrant — especially through the involvement of laypeople.

How they do that requires solutions as varied as the parishes that represent more than 4 million Ukrainian Catholics on four continents.

“We have parishes that are growing” and need pastoral, financial and structural support, said Canadian Bishop Ken Nowakowski of New Westminster, who heads the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s implementation team for its strategic plan, “Vision 2020.”

Some urban parishes have an aging population and declining numbers, and synod members must decide how to support the parish priest who spends so much time visiting the sick and officiating at funerals, said Bishop Nowakowski. At the other end of the spectrum, the bishops must consider how to help keep priests in busy, large parishes from burning out.

The vibrant parish initiative was approved by the synod in 2011 when the bishops met in Brazil. Their first steps have included making sure that clergy understand the plan and representatives of each of the Ukrainian Catholic eparchies, or dioceses, designated a priest- representative to help introduce the plan within the diocese.

Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia said that, at least as far as he had heard, “the workshops for the priests worked out very well; they were very positive.”

“This whole Vision 2020 has helped us focus on goals ... what are we going to try to achieve for now?” he added.

Bishop Nowakowski said that about 70 percent of the world’s 4,500 Ukrainian Catholic priests have given feedback and are involved with the plan. This year church leaders hope to involve religious communities and monastics, he said.

He told Catholic News Service he would present synod members with a report on what has been accomplished and would include feedback. Synod members will either ask the committee to continue with its current plan or make changes, he added.

The Synod of Bishops, the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s governing body, normally meets in Ukraine, but it is meeting in Canada Sept. 9-16 in honor of the centenary of the arrival of Canada’s first Ukrainian Catholic bishop, Blessed Nykyta Budka.

Winnipeg’s Ukrainian Archbishop Lawrence Huculak said as bishops from other countries arrived for the synod, they were impressed with the involvement of Canada’s laity. Even the synod’s organizational committee has laypeople on it, he said.

“It’s not just the bishops ... the people are taking part and helping to organize it,” he said.

Ukrainian Catholics in Canada have women’s, men’s and youth groups. Lay groups have national conventions, elect leaders and participate in the life of the church.

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Tags: Ukraine Canada Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk