Long awaited ad limina visit made in April
By Jayne L. Buryn, Communications Coordinator, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton
“We played a game of soccer,” Bishop David Motiuk of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton told Vatican Radio’s Christopher Wells in an interview after the ad limina meeting with the Holy Father in April. (To hear the interview click on the above link and scroll down to the audio button.) “So we were seated in a circle… and he put us at ease [saying] ‘here’s the soccer ball. We’ll put it down in the midst and whoever wants to kick it first, we’ll begin our dialogue, our discussion ….’ A beautiful image!” Bishop Ken Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of New Westminster felt Pope Francis’ welcome was “fraternal, a meeting between brothers.”
Oftentimes, Bishop David said, “in a parish or in an eparchy or in a diocese, we get caught up in the day to day life of our local church. But here was a concrete symbol and action on the unity of the Catholic Church in action, and especially in prayer. It was just a beautiful moment for me.”
During the radio interview, Bishop David noted that the next Synod of Bishops, set for October 2018, will focus on youth. “Both Bishops spoke of celebrating the Divine Liturgy, in the Rite of the Ukrainian Church, at the altar of St Josaphat in St Peter’s Basilica, as a highlight of their ad limina visit,” noted Mr. Wells. “That was one of my proudest moments during this ad limina,” Bishop David added, “where the 22 [Greek and Latin] bishops [of western Canada] were able to gather in the celebration of the divine liturgy, according to the Ukrainian church, and to pray for Christian unity.”
The Holy Father “encouraged us to listen to our people … to find ways to have conversations with our young people so that [we will understand] their concerns, aspirations, hope for the future. It’s so important to listen,” Bishop David concluded. “The Holy Father asks us to take ‘a broader sense of synodality’, beyond that practiced by bishops, to take it into each family, to the parish, the parish council, the entire parish, listening to each other, exchanging ideas. We must ensure we take responsibility for the life of the Church.”
In his ad limina report to Pope Francis, Bishop David noted that the outlook for the future of the people of God in the Eparchy of Edmonton, as reflected upon by the Eparchial Pastoral Council with the collaboration of many others, is welcoming, positive and vibrant. The 25 Year Eparchial Pastoral Plan on the New Evangelization (Evangelization, A New Springtime – Encountering the Person of Christ), launched in 2012, contemplates the question “Where is the Holy Spirit calling us to be as Church 25 years from now?” From this deliberation we have determined that we now have a blueprint for long-term future pastoral planning and programming within the Eparchy of Edmonton in the areas of:
- the Word of God,
- liturgy and prayer, and
- service to one’s neighbour.
A number of programs and projects have been implemented.
On-line materials, seminars, conferences and study days have been helpful for catechesis. We are currently moving towards creating a Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies satellite campus at Newman Theological College in Edmonton. “It is hoped that the satellite campus will provide much needed resources in helping the faithful come to know God better, followed by a desire to love God in prayer and in the liturgy, then to serve God in one’s neighbour and among the poor,” Bishop David wrote in his 2017 Quinquennial (ad limina) report to the Pope.
Youth and young family programming that will cultivate their relationships with God and encourage participation in the life of the Church continues to be number one pastoral priority for the Eparchy of Edmonton. Recently, we made a commitment of a $100,000 each year over the next ten years to assisting parishes to put in place new initiatives in support of youth and young families. Examples of programs launched recently include the engagement of a youth coordinator for two parishes and the provision of several youth programs, particularly C.O.R.E. at the Eparchy’s Camp Oselia.
An integral part of helping youth and young families in their faith journey are grandparents and elders in the Church and in the community. Bishop David explained that “grandparents can be likened to Faith Keepers, for whom God has always been a huge part of their lives, their strength and inspiration. Young people, on the other hand, can be likened to Faith Seekers, who still believe in God and seek answers to the meaning of life, but for whom Church and active parish involvement is foreign.”
To pass on the knowledge and commitment of this generation, the Eparchy of Edmonton will be helping grandparents tell their children and grandchildren why God has been and continues to be such an important part of their lives. This will be done using YouTube style videos sharing stories, sending Christmas/Easter cards, birthday/wedding anniversary cards, and so on.
From his meeting with Pope Francis, Bishop David brings back additional inspiration to the Eparchy. “Here’s an incredible man filled with the joy of the Gospel. With his enthusiasm and my renewed enthusiasm, I hope to be able to share that with our faithful back home.”
Bishop Nowakowski will bring back to New Westminster Eparchy the excitement he felt about “where we are in Canada as a church in relationship with the Holy See.”
What is an ad limina visit?
The Assembly of Western Catholic Bishops (AWCB) of Canada made their ad limina visit to Pope Francis during the week of March 27 to April 1 this year. The visits are normally completed every five years; however, a number of circumstances prevented this from happening for ten years.
A total of 22 bishops attended, with four from Ukrainian Catholic eparchies in Western Canada: Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton’s Bishop David Motiuk, Bishop Ken Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of New Westminster, Saskatoon Eparchy’s Bishop Bryan Bayda, and Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak of the Archeparchy of Winnpeg.
These visits are an important way for the Pope to maintain a relationship with, and unity of, the bishops of particular Churches throughout the world. They give him the opportunity to deliberate on the successes and needs of the Churches and their bishops, and to provide support to them as shepherds of the faith and the faithful.
The ad limina visit occurs in three stages:
- a pilgrimage to the “tombs of the Princes of the Apostles [Sts. Peter and Paul)] and their veneration,
- a meeting with the Holy Father, and
- finally, the meetings at the dicasteries of the Roman Curia. (Dicasteries, from the Greek law-court, judge/juror, are Roman Curia administrative departments that manage the affairs of the Catholic Church.)
“Veneration of Sts. Peter and Paul and pilgrimages to their tombs have been practiced since early Christian times,” notes Article 28 of the Apostolic Constitution, Pastor Bonus, John Paul, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God for an Everlasting Memory, June 1988, as expressions of the unity of the Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ on Peter the Rock. (O)n that occasion [each bishop presents]” to the Roman Pontiff a report on the state of their diocese [or eparchy]. These visits replicate the 15-day visit of Paul with Peter described in Galatians 1:18.
- The Ukrainian Catholic Church is the largest Eastern Church in the world.
- The 2017 Canadian population is 6 million; from the last census those who identify themselves as having Ukrainian Catholic roots are 1.2 million.
- “This year we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the canonization of St. Josaphat who is buried at St. Peter’s Basilica, advises Bishop Ken. “He died for Christian unity. This Tuesday [March 28] Ukrainian and Latin bishops celebrated a Divine Liturgy at his tomb. That to me is a great sign of unity. On June 25, our Patriarch Sviatoslav Shewchuk, bishops, clergy, religious and faithful will gather in Rome for a Divine Liturgy at St. Peter’s Basilica to commemorate that great saint, St. Josaphat.”
The Quotable Bishops:
- “We can have structures which are important, but it’s relationships that make those structures work. We have been in Canada as an official structure for well over 100 years [beginning with Bishop Budka]. The relationship that we have with the two Churches, the Latin Church and the Ukrainian Church, is a model that could be followed anywhere in the world.”
Perhaps the Catholic presence in Canada “will grow in the future” with immigration, resulting from the unfortunate struggles in the middle East, for example.
- “The ad limina visit is a very visible sign of communion with the bishops throughout the world. Here’s a direct, a concrete symbol of Catholic unity in action.”
Listen to the full interview with Bishop David Motiuk of Edmonton, and Bishop Ken Nowakowski of New Westminster (Source: en.radiovaticana.va):