Full Question: I go to a Ukrainian Catholic Church and I have felt called to the priesthood, but I am not Ukrainian. Will this prohibit me from applying to a Ukrainian Catholic Seminary?
Response From: Rector of the Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary, Fr. Michael Winn
Thank you for your question. Be assured of my prayer for you as you continue to discern the Lord’s will in your life. I have learned something especially important from an older priest-mentor of mine. It is to be open to whatever the Lord wants you to do even before knowing what that is.
The Ukrainian Catholic Church (known also as the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in other places in the world) has her roots in the Church of Kyivan-Rus’ which was centred in what is now present-day Ukraine, although it extended beyond that. And while our Church originated in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Catholic Church is not only for Ukrainians. Indeed, Patriarch Lubomyr and our present Patriarch Sviatoslav are quite emphatic about this. At a speech given at St. Michael University College in Toronto at a fundraising dinner for the Metropolitan Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, His Beatitude, in speaking about Ukrainian Catholics outside of Ukraine, stated that the proper role of the Ukrainian Catholic Church outside of Ukraine is …
… not to live for Ukraine, but to live: to be a strong and lively link between the country that is your home and the country of your ancestry, whether that ancestry is ethnic or spiritual, because, as I have emphasized, there are many non-Ukrainians who are members of the Church of Kyiv and that spiritual ancestry is even more important than ethnic ancestry. For us, the ancestry of Baptism is deeper than the ancestry of blood.”
You do not have to be Ukrainian to enter studies for the Ukrainian Catholic priesthood (I, myself, am ethnically only half-Ukrainian). We have some priests and some present seminarians who are not of Ukrainian descent at all. What does matter is that you are a member of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and not only a Latin Catholic practicing in the Ukrainian Catholic Church. If you would like to become an official member of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, I would suggest that you first see your pastor. He will help you or he will know someone at the Bishop’s office who can help.