Raised a Roman Catholic, seminarian studies for priesthood in the Ukrainian Catholic Church

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

Mt 4:18-19, NRSV
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’

Lk 5:10b, NRSV
Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’

“’It takes a whole village to raise a child.’  It likewise takes the support of the whole Church to form a deacon, priest, religious, monastic [or] lay member for ministry in the Church, notes Bishop David in his September 2017 newsletter. “It also takes our support to offer on-going education and formation for those already in sacred orders or involved in lay ministry.”

Every fall (September and October), the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton asks parishioners to support vocations and seminaries through a fundraising campaign. The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton is blessed to have several students in, or beginning, studies for the priesthood currently:

Subdeacon Cyril Kennedy (Doctoral Studies in Sacred Scripture, Catholic University, Washington, DC); Roman Kobyletskyy (ESL at the University of Ottawa, and will hopefully be in theological studies at Saint Paul University in January); and Orion Wiebe (Philosophy Studies, Concordia University, Edmonton) with their studies at the Holy Spirit Seminary.

Orion came to Edmonton three years ago to discern a vocation to the priesthood. He first experienced a Ukrainian Catholic Divine Liturgy at a Family Life Conference that he attended and found the service “beautiful and intriguing,” he says.

So, when he began studies at Concordia College in Edmonton, he decided to attend a weekday Divine Liturgy at St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral.

With a chuckle, he says he should have attended on a weekend when he would have blended in with the congregation. As it turned out, he was recognized as a visitor, but was made to feel welcome. Soon he was joining the regulars for their after-Liturgy breakfast at the A&W.

“I fell in love with the community and the church. I got to know the bishop who often celebrated the weekday liturgies.” Feeling comfortable with the community and Bishop David, he approached the Bishop about studying for the priesthood in the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

He has completed the second year and has begun his third year of seminary studies at the University of Alberta in the areas of history and philosophy. He also takes theology courses at Newman Theological College.

Asked what he finds so appealing about the Eastern Church tradition, Orion responds that “at first it was the beauty of the Divine Liturgy. Slowly I gained an appreciation of Eastern spirituality, the Eastern liturgical year and its fasting traditions.”

He has “started to get to know the community here.” Because the Ukrainian Catholic community is smaller, it’s more like a family to Orion. “I feel at home here,” he enthusiastically explains.

Orion was born and raised in the Calgary area, in a Roman Catholic family. Orion is the oldest of four boys in the family, twins Pollux and Castor, who are now gainfully employed and Sygmus, who is completing high school.

Mark Wiebe, Orion’s father, is an amateur astronomer who was able to convince his wife, Pierrette, that the children should have interesting names drawn from terminology found in astronomy. Orion smiles as he shares that, thanks to his mother, he narrowly escaped being named Galileo.

Orion’s family have been very supportive and enjoying some of the Ukrainian information and customs he has been introducing, such as an icon decorated with an embroidered rushnyk (towel). 

Orion is pleased with how his studies are going and looks forward to the next stage, when he will be staying at the Basilian House of Studies in Edmonton and participating in the life of St. Basil Ukrainian Catholic Church. His dream is to be a rural priest; he grew up in the country and the lifestyle in small rural communities appeals to him. 

To his credit Orion has a facility with languages. He is fluent in English, French and German.  His next linguistic challenge will be Ukrainian, which he is slowly learning. 

We wish Orion success in his studies and a realization of his goal to be a priest.

With as little as $25 per family, you will be helping Orion and contributing to the development of other seminarians, like Cyril Kennedy and Roman Kobyletsky  on their journey to priesthood, serving our Ukrainian Catholic communities in Canada and throughout the world.

You will also be contributing to the ability of the much-needed programs offered by institutes and teaching organizations to continue their work building critical faith leadership within our Ukrainian Catholic community in Canada and abroad. 

Institutions and teaching organizations supported by this program include:

  • Holy Spirit Seminary (Ottawa);
  • the Basilian House of Studies (Edmonton);
  • the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate Novitiate (Winnipeg); and the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (Toronto); and initiatives, such as
  • Clergy Study Days, and
  • the Eparchial Diaconal Formation, Lay Ministry Formation.

Please be generous with your support.