Bishop David Motiuk reflects on 10 years of episcopal ministry to the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton 

By Jayne L. Buryn, Communications Coordinator, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton

In 2017, Bishop David Motiuk celebrates 10 years of episcopal leadership in the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton. I recently asked him how the Eparchy has changed over the past ten years and what his hopes are for the future of our Ukrainian Catholic community in Alberta.

“Lay leadership is very important for me,” Bishop David responded. He is pleased with the number of commissions established in the Edmonton Eparchy to encourage involvement of the laity in the ministry of the Church in Alberta.

Vatican II urged bishops and clergy to work together. Bishop David has tried to extend that collegiality to the laity, as well.

“In fact, Pope Benedict XVI stepped Vatican II’s prescription up a bit and also reinforced this need for the whole Church – the religious, hierarchy and laity – to collaborate together in the ministry of the bishop: to teach, sanctify/make holy, and shepherd,” Bishop David explained. “Not only should they collaborate, Pope Benedict said, but also be co-responsible for carrying out the mission of Christ. God really needs everyone’s skills. There is no place for laity to sit back.

“Through baptism each of us is called to be an active member,” the bishop continued, “to learn, nurture, make the Church grow, to actively share the ministry of the Church.” One way of doing this is to get increasing numbers of laity involved, which is where the commissions have been helpful.

Social justice is another important focus for his leadership, according to Bishop David. “We’re doing a lot of good work,” he said, “but we can do even more.”

The bishop has established a commission to draft a mandate, a visioning for growth in this area. “We need to meet the needs of the poor in our midst, both in and outside of our parishes.”

During the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian Catholic community found itself learning a lot more about poverty and hunger. In the Liturgy, the millions in the family of mankind who died during the artificial famine were commemorated. By feeding the poor in our midst we honour them, Bishop David believes.

There was an enormous response to the call for donations during the commemoration of the Holodomor.  “I was really pleased with the many pounds of food and clothing that were received. I’d like to see this kind of generosity continue to grow within our eparchy.”

Our response to the needy is “hugely important in the hearts of our young people. There is something innate that calls them to respond to the poor and the needy. The young have a relationship with God through that; young people get that.”

Another emphasis for the future work of the Eparchy is Ukrainian Catholics’ engagement in loving and caring for God’s creation. What can we do to be better stewards of God’s creation?

The increase in social communication within our eparchy is a positive development that Bishop David has worked for and seen catch on.  Through the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton website and printed materials distributed to all the parishes, the communities within the eparchy have been able to participate in story-telling and sharing what they are doing. “There has been a marked increase in our parishes telling their stories about who we are as children of God.”

The Gospel has brought us the joy of the Good News. “But don’t think that the ink in His pen has dried out. We are telling more Gospel, how God is alive amongst us,” says Bishop David. “We have engaged with each other through parish bulletins, parish websites and the Eparchial website.”

The next step towards increased communication that the Bishop would like the Eparchy to take is to convey the Good News and share our stories through multimedia, such as videos. He would also like to recruit reporters in the field so that more information can be shared through a variety of voices, a further step in engaging the laity in the episcopal ministry.

Numerous other initiatives have been implemented or completed within the Eparchy. These include several publications: Give Thanks to the Lord: A Basic Catechism; a hymn book entitled Sing to Our God; a devotional prayer book Beneath the Mantle of Your Mercy; Christian Initiation of Children, an English-Ukrainian bilingual catechesis and Rite of Baptism; and the book written by Rev. Dr. Athanasius McVay, God’s Martyr – History’s Witness: Blessed Nykyta Budka, the First Ukrainian Catholic Bishop of Canada.

A “How Welcoming is My Parish” survey helped parishes to evaluate where they have been achieving great results, and in what areas they can grow.

Youth had the opportunity to participate in annual eparchial and parish children’s camps, were sponsored to participate in World Youth Day and a Youth Unity initiative created in a number of locations throughout Canada.

Eparchial conventions were held around the themes of “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit—Ministering to the Poor in Our Midst”; “Evangelization—A New Springtime for Christianity”; “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church: The Centenary of Blessed Martyr Nykyta Budka, the First Ukrainian Catholic Bishop in Canada”; “Meeting the Stranger in our Midst—A Ministry of Hospitality”; and “Family and Faith Today”.

Courses led by learned resources such as Fr. Andriy Chirovsky, founder of the Sheptytsky Institute, and Fr. Peter Galadza about Eastern Christian spirituality, liturgy, and sacraments offered lay, clergy and religious growth in their faith and spirituality and in their understanding of our Ukrainian Catholic Church traditions.

The Eparchy of Edmonton instituted a Bishop’s Annual Prayer Breakfast, participated in the 2013 Pilgrimage to Ukraine celebrating the 1025th Anniversary of the Baptism of Kyivan-Rus’. During the pilgrimage, Bishop David, clergy and faithful from the Eparchy of Edmonton participated in the consecration of the newly-constructed Holy Resurrection Sobor (Cathedral) in Kyiv, as the seat of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the world.

During Bishop David’s episcopal tenure, the faithful of the Eparchy of Edmonton were honoured with a historical visit from His Beatitude Patriarch Sviatoslav, his First Pastoral visit to Canada.

Where to from here?

After 15 years as a bishop and 10 years in the Edmonton Eparchy, Bishop David said, “I acknowledge and give thanks to God for all the people who have touched my life to make me who I am.  They are all agents of my episcopal ministry: the laity, family, friends, clergy, religious, and monastics.

“I feel that in some small way I’m moving into a different season in my life and in my episcopal ministry. I would like to rediscover what my purpose is now.

“Where I would like to focus is on drawing out leadership gifts, by looking at those around me, recognizing the different gifts, encouraging them to share these gifts, and ensuring that we continue to have good leadership.”

Bishop David noted that there is a greater awareness now of the role women do and can play in the Church. They have a larger inventory of roles available now, compared to the past.

A key upcoming ministry will be to help us value and extend a helping hand to our seniors, in their own homes, those by themselves and in seniors’ homes and in hospitals.

“We need to recognize that they are the pioneers of our community,” Bishop David said.  “How can we better engage them in the life of the Church and how can we better respond to their needs? It is up to us to better utilize the power of our grandparents and all seniors, and to assist seniors with evangelizing other seniors.”

At this point in his engagement with the Edmonton eparchial community, the Bishop would like to move forward implementing more of the 25 year plan.

For more about what has been accomplished in the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton, please see A Progress Report — 2012-2015, Implementing the 25 Year Pastoral Plan A Call to Action for Evangelization and Parish Renewal To Know God, to Love God, and to Serve God and Vision 2020 — The Vibrant Parish Places to Encounter the Living Christ.