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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) 

“Although we (Canadians) may take it for granted, our laity have not been able to organize themselves in the same way” in some other countries, he said.

Last December, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine, outlined his vision in a pastoral letter to Ukrainian Catholics worldwide. In the letter, “The Vibrant Parish — A Place to Encounter the Living Christ,” he spoke of the elements needed to “grow in holiness and unity in Christ Jesus.”

Archbishop Shevchuk said people of all ages must continue to learn about the faith — not only from the Bible, but also from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Priests must teach and laity have a responsibility to learn because “permanent and continuous formation for various age groups ... is an essential component of the vibrant parish.”

Parishioners must participate regularly in the sacraments, and families must once again become “a school of prayer,” he said.

“Our parishes can become places where care is given to the orphan, protection for the widow, help for the poor, and where the suffering of the sick is shared,” he said.

Parishes must have active pastoral and parish councils as well as “well-formed and mature co-workers who assist the priest in leading catechetical schools, church brotherhoods, charitable works, youth organizations and prayer groups,” he said. “One of the most important responsibilities of leadership in the parish community is discerning God’s will and searching for the best ways of implementing it in the life of the parish.”

Everyone in the parish must have a missionary spirit, he said.

Archbishop Soroka told Catholic News Service that in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, he hoped to work through the people in the pews to reach those who are not coming to church.

“Many have lapsed,” he said, adding, “If we don’t reach out to those in the pews today, to whom will we speak when they leave?”

The archbishop said that, by reshuffling some clergy assignments, he has been able to designate 2.5 priest slots for work on outreach to lapsed Catholics, including on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. This fall, he said, they hope to create two short DVDs — one on the Creed and one talking about why people go to church, what gives people a sense of belonging. The DVDs will be distributed to Ukrainian Catholics who attend church in the hopes that they will want to share them with friends and relatives who no longer come to church.

He added they planned to make use of the KISS principle: “Keep It Simple — and Spiritual.”

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