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Ukrainian Catholic Eparchies Established in Britain, France

Pope Benedict XVI has raised the church jurisdiction for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain to the level of an eparchy, or diocese, and named Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, 58, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, to be the eparchial bishop. Bishop Lonchyna is pictured in a 2004 photo. (photo: CNS/Daniele Colarieti, Catholic Press Photo) 

22 Jan 2013 – By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has raised the church jurisdictions for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain and France to the level of eparchies, or dioceses, and named the U.S. bishops who had been their exarchs to be their eparchial bishops.

The new diocese in Great Britain will be known as the Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, the Vatican announced on 18 January.

The new diocese in France will be known as the Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great.

Both eparchies are named after their cathedral churches.

Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, 58, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, who had served as apostolic exarch for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain since 2011, will continue his work — but with a new title, the Vatican said.

Bishop Borys Gudziak, 52, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., is the eparchial bishop of the new Paris-based eparchy. He was installed on 2 December as the exarch for Ukrainian Catholics in France. He also ministers to Ukrainian Catholics in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

According to Vatican statistics, there are just over 10,000 Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain, served by 12 diocesan priests. The elevation of the jurisdiction to an eparchy or diocese usually indicates a growth in the stability of a Catholic population and of priests and religious to serve them.

In an email response to questions, Bishop Lonchyna said: “An exarchate is a temporary structure and may be suppressed if there is no need for it” — for example, if most of the people have died or moved away. “But an eparchy, like a diocese, is permanent; it may not be suppressed. If, however, there no longer are any faithful, it becomes a titular see,” which are the dioceses assigned to auxiliary bishops.

At the age of 22, Bishop Lonchyna professed his vows as a member of the Studite Monks in Grottaferrata, Italy, in 1976. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1977. He holds a license in biblical theology from the Pontifical Urbanian University and a degree in Eastern liturgical theology from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome.

After serving as the spiritual director of the major seminary in Lviv, Ukraine, and teaching at the theological academy there, he was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of Lviv in 2002.

A year later, he was appointed apostolic visitor for Ukrainian Catholics in Italy. In 2004, he also was given responsibility for the pastoral care of Ukrainian Catholics in Spain and Ireland.

He moved to London in 2009 as apostolic administrator of the Ukrainian exarchate.

In an interview with the Religious Information Service of Ukraine, Bishop Gudziak said he hoped the new eparchy would contribute to the growth and vitality of the church in Europe.

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Tags: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Ukrainian Catholic France United Kingdom