By Jayne L. Buryn, Communications Coordinator, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton
Early Christians ensured that the needs of the faithful in diverse cultures were met. Today, too, the Church is not “one size fits all.”
The Particular Law of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church* was drafted in Ukraine where the listed requisites can be appropriately applied. Not all may be suitable for those Ukrainian Catholics living in the United States or France, for example. There are cultural and language considerations and those beyond culture and language that must be effectively identified and dealt with.
Ukrainian Catholic Church Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk is asking Ukrainian Catholic bishops around the world to fit the requirements called for by the Particular Law to each specific culture in which the Ukrainian Catholic Church exists.
For this reason, bishops from Canada and the United States gathered in Glen Cove, New York, from May 2nd to the 4th this year for the North American Bishops meeting to deliberate a number of topics.
*Particular Law of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, according to the Codex canonum ecclesiarum orientalium, promulgated for three years by the Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk on April 7, 2015
“The Liturgy is often the entry point for many people to meet God,” asserts Bishop David. “It can bring about a deepening of a relationship with God. We need to make it the true means of evangelization as determined by greater collaboration between all Ukrainian Catholic bishops in North America.”
As a start, a North American Liturgical Commission is being established to address the English language text so it is as responsive to North Americans as the Portuguese translation is to Brazilians, for example. People attending funerals in our churches, whether of our faith or not, need to have access to good materials to be able to fully participate in, and appreciate, the services.
Other liturgical matters that need to be addressed are the feast days, the major days of obligation at which the faithful should be required to be in church, celebrating together as a community of faithful.
As an example, Canon 22 of the Particular Law calls for “vespers … to be celebrated on the vigils of Sundays and Holy days, and matins on each Sunday and feast days.” The question arises whether this particular law, drafted in Ukraine, works for the faithful of Canada and the US.
According to Bishop David, “Every bishop is doing good things in his eparchy. So why not collaborate through social media and share resources, personnel and expertise, and shortlist priorities?”
Currently, a very important use being considered for social media is for an online marriage preparation course. “How do we form couples for marriage? How can we pool our resources to provide effective processes and materials? How do we use social media to achieve consistency and universality to enrich all those seeking to marry in one of the churches of the Ukrainian Catholic tradition?”
There is a need for marriage preparation in large communities. Participants in cities like Calgary and Edmonton are usually able to attend classes in person. However, access to a course may not be available for those living in rural, or not easily accessible, areas of the province or those living in other areas or eparchies where marriage preparation courses are not offered at all.
Designing this type of course calls for collaboration, pooling of our resources to provide proper preparation. Until now, some parishes have developed their own marriage preparation procedures, but could benefit from those of others, like St. Josaphat’s Cathedral, for example, which leads in-person courses in January of each year.
Although he did not bring it to the meeting, Bishop David sees an additional need: “How do we use social media to enrich those who are already married?”
“Neither rain nor runway issue stays” bishops from their appointed assembly* *Adapted from the US Postal Service creed
Collaborative meetings of North American bishops offer a valuable means for developing effective leadership and guidance for the clergy and laity of the Ukrainian Catholic churches on this continent.
Attendees at this year’s meeting held in Glen Cove, New York, however, met some challenges. The weather in Eastern Canada and New York state was not hospitable to North America’s Ukrainian Catholic bishops. Heavy rainfall in the region and the closure of a major runway at Toronto’s airport ensured Most Rev. Bishop David Motiuk of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton was trapped in Toronto overnight, missing the first day of the North American Bishops meeting in Glen Cove, New York.
However, Bishop David believes that our Lord planned a different service for him that day. Because of the layover, he was given the opportunity to visit the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate (SSMI) who were holding a Provincial Council meeting. The Sisters were grateful and happy to participate in the Divine Liturgy he celebrated with them during his visit that day.
Most Rev. Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg did not make it to Glen Cove at all. Due to the runway issue, his airplane did not even leave Winnipeg, but he was able to join the meeting by video-conference.
Meetings to discuss concerns and priorities are held at the Canadian and American bishop levels, first, then brought to the North American stage for discussion and planning. Next year, the third meet of the North American Bishops will be held in Kelowna, British Columbia in May (2018).
The Synod summary by Most Reverend Stefan Soroka, Metropolitan for the USA and Archbishop of the Eparchy of Philadelphia is available on the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton website at https://eeparchy.com/.