Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky was born Count Roman Alexander Maria Sheptytsky in 1865 in the Ukrainian village of Prylbychi. The son of a polonized (and therefore latinized) Ukrainian Aristocrat, Jan Sheptytsky and Sophia Fredro (daughter of the Polish literary figure), he was conscious of the fact that his ancestors included some notable bishops and Metropolitans of the Greco-Catholic Church of Kyiv. After many obstacles created by his father, the young Count Sheptytsky was able to enter the Ukrainian monastery of the Order of Saint Basil the Great (OSBM) in 1891 and accepted the monastic name Andrey. In 1900 he was made Bishop of Stanyslaviv and shortly afterwards, at the age of 36, became the Metropolitan, i.e. the ranking hierarch of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church. He remained at this post until his death on 1 November, 1944.
His life was an example of heroic virtue. An extremely active pastor, who used his personal wealth to fund thousands of philanthropic projects, he was also a man of deep prayer. A gifted preacher and prolific writer, he reached out to his people constantly, teaching uneducated peasants the basics of hygiene and agricultural techniques, and dialoguing with the intelligentsia among his own people and the cultured classes of all Europe. He traveled widely, visiting his flock in Western Europe, North and South America, and seeing to it that they would have bishops of their own to take care of them. Never of good health, his last fifteen years were a constant agony of pain and paralysis. Even so, he valiantly led his Church through extremely difficult and oppressive times.
His two great passions in life were the restoration of authentic Eastern Christian Monasticism in his Church, (which he achieved through the creation of monasteries following the Studite Typicon) and the union of Churches. He specifically laboured at Orthodox-Catholic reconciliation, decades before this became fashionable. For this he was often looked upon as dangerous and insufficiently loyal to Rome. He was, however, a firm believer in a strong papacy, which caused many Orthodox to mistrust this saintly man as well, even though he loved them dearly and stood up for them when they were persecuted. He valued education (having the equivalent of three doctorates himself) and founded the L’viv Theological Academy in 1929, naming Fr. Josyf Slipyj as its rector. This same man would later be Metropolitan Andrey’s coadjutor and successor, and a direct heir to many of Metropolitan Andrey’s great dreams and aspirations.
Metropolitan Andrey led his flock of some five million faithful through two world wars. He was arrested by the Czarist forces in World War I. Polish and Nazi German authorities would keep him under house arrest in later years. He courageously saved many Jews from the Nazis during World War II. Metropolitan Andrey died as the Red Army occupied his city of L’viv once again in 1944. Before his death, he predicted the annihilation of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, and its eventual resurrection. Both his predictions came true. In 1946 the Soviet Secret Police, with the assistance of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church staged a pseudo-council of the Ukrainian Church, during which a small group of frightened clergy voted to liquidate their Church and join the Moscow Patriarchate. No Ukrainian Greco-Catholic bishop ever agreed to this. For almost half a century, the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church was the world’s largest outlawed religious body. As the Soviet Union crumbled, this Church came out of the Catacombs with over five million faithful, thousands of priests and over three thousand parishes. Many believe this survival of the Church in Ukraine to be a miracle worked by Metropolitan Andrey. The cause for his beatification and canonization is underway.
Metropolitan Andrey believed in the necessity of the Union of Churches, to be achieved through mutual understanding and sacrificial love, as well as a return to the sources of the faith. He enjoined all people to pray for God’s Wisdom. His life and his legacy are an inspiration to the staff and students of the Institute that bears his name.
Prayer for the Beatification of the Servant of God Metropolitan Andrey
Our Lord Jesus Christ – You always reward Your faithful servants, not only with special gifts of Your love, but also with the eternal reward of the saints in heaven, and in many cases You grant them the recognition of sanctity by Your Church here on earth.
We humbly pray: grant that Your faithful servant Metropolitan Andrey be numbered among the saints. Throughout his just life, “full of suffering and trials,” he was a good shepherd for his flock and a great labourer for Christian unity. And through his beatification and intercession, grant our entire people the great gift of unity and love. Amen.
Молитва за Прославу Слуги Божого Митрополита Андрея
Господи Ісусе Христе – Ти завжди нагороджуєш Твоїх вірних слуг не тільки особливішими дарами Своєї любови, але й вічною нагородою святих у небі, а в многих випадках і прославою на Твоїх святих престолах, тут на землі.
Покірно благаємо Тебе: зволь так прославити Твого вірного слугу Митрополита Андрея. Він упродовж свого праведного життя, „повного терпінь і досвідів”, був добрим пастирем свого стада і великим подвижником церковної єдности. А через його прославу і заступництво пошли і цілому народові нашому великий дар єдности і любови. Амінь.
The Prayer of the Servant of God Metropolitan Andrey for Divine Wisdom
O Great and Almighty God, send down upon me from Your high and holy heavens and from the throne of Your holy glory, Your holy wisdom, that sits at Your side.
Grant me the wisdom of Your good pleasure so that in my life I may know how to desire fervently, seek wisely, acknowledge in truth and fulfill perfectly that which is pleasing to You, to the glory and honour of You holy Name, “to the praise of the glory of Your grace.”
Grant me, O God, the wisdom of my state, so that I may do what You desire; grant that I may understand my obligations, grant me the wisdom of my duties, and grant that I may do them as they ought to be done and as is fitting of Your glory and for the benefit of my soul.
Grant me the wisdom of Your ways and the wisdom to walk the paths of Your holy will.
Grant me the wisdom of success and failure so that I would know how not to exalt myself in the former and not to be downcast in the latter.
Grant me the wisdom of joy and the wisdom of sadness; may I rejoice only in that which leads to You and be sad only in that which separates from You.
Grant me the wisdom of everything that passes and everything that lasts; may the first decrease in my sight, and the second grow.
Grant me the wisdom of work and the wisdom of rest; may work for You be luxury for me, and rest without You – fatigue.
Grant me the wisdom of a sincere and straight-forward intention, the wisdom of simplicity, the wisdom of sincerity. May my heart turn to You and seek You in all things all my life long.
Grant me the wisdom of obedience for Your law, for Your Church.
Grant me the wisdom of poverty, so that I would never value goods in any other way except according to their real worth.
Grant me the wisdom of chastity according to my state and vocation.
Grant me the wisdom of patience, the wisdom of humility, the wisdom of gladness and seriousness, the wisdom of the fear of the Lord; the wisdom of truthfulness and of good deeds; may I be patient with no complaining, humble without the least pretending, joyful without inordinate laughter, serious without severity; that I may fear You without the temptation to despair; that I may be truthful without the shadow of duplicity; may all my good deeds be free from self-complacence.
Grant me the wisdom to admonish my neighbour when necessary without exalting myself; grant that I may edify in word and deed without hypocrisy.
Grant me, O Lord, the wisdom of vigilance, attention and wariness; may no vain thought lead me astray.
Grant me the wisdom of nobleness; may I never be brought down by any impure and unworthy attachment.
Grant me the wisdom of what is right; may no selfish intention ever lead me away from the path of my duties.
Grant me the wisdom of courage and strength; may no storm overthrow me.
Grant me the wisdom of freedom; may no powerful passion ever enslave me.
Grant me the wisdom of the theological virtues and the moral virtues: faith, hope, love, prudence, devotion, temperance and fortitude.
Grant me, O Lord, the wisdom of the apostles, the wisdom of the martyrs; grant me a priestly and pastoral wisdom; grant me the wisdom of preachers and teachers; grant me the wisdom of those who administer the Holy Mysteries; grant me the Eucharistic wisdom and mystical wisdom – the wisdom of prayer and spiritual wisdom, and above all, O Lord, grant me the wisdom of sincere repentance, imperfect and perfect contrition; grant me the wisdom of to know myself in my weakness and malice; grant me the wisdom of mortification and fasting; grant me the wisdom of self-denial and self-sacrifice; grant me the wisdom of sacrifice, the wisdom of the Cross, the wisdom of Blood.
O God, grant me, finally, that wisdom which, in accord with Your holy purpose, leads to the unity of churches under one supreme pastor, the Universal Pontiff; grant me the wisdom to cherish the work of holy unity, to love it and to consecrate my life to it.
Grant me the wisdom of our Eastern rite, to hold it, to renew it and develop it. Grant me the wisdom of the Fathers of the holy Eastern Church and all the great ecclesiastical teachers.
Grant me the wisdom of Your great apostle, Paul, so that I would at least well understand his epistles, remember them and know how to explain them to Your people.
Grant me the wisdom of Your first Vicar that I may understand the designs of Your Divine Providence, which governs the Church through the Roman Pontiffs; grant me the wisdom of obedience to them and to the Universal Catholic Church; grant me the wisdom of church history and theology; grant me the wisdom that I and my people lack; grant me the wisdom of true satisfaction, true happiness. Amen.