14 June 2016
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishop Borys Gudziak is prominent educator, spokesperson and spiritual leader in Ukraine. (photo: Ivan Chernichkin)
In 1993, when CNEWA started supporting institutions of the newly resurrected Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, very few people had heard of Borys Gudziak. However today Bishop Borys Gudziak is known as a leading spokesperson of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and is well-recognized for making extraordinary contributions to Ukrainian society and the entire Catholic Church.
At CNEWA, we have decided to feature Bishop Borys among our 90 heroes because of his exemplary leadership and wise stewardship of resources entrusted to his team by our agency over the last 20 years.
Bishop Borys was born 1960 in Syracuse, New York. After completing his undergraduate studies in philosophy and biology at Syracuse University, he continued his education in theology at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. While living in Italy his spiritual formation was nurtured by the late Cardinal Joseph Slipyj. From 1983 to 1992 Borys Gudziak was working on his doctoral thesis at Harvard University, focusing on the analysis of the Union of Brest of 1596.
In 1992 he moved to Ukraine, where he played an instrumental role in the development of a number of research and educational projects, the most prominent of which is the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv. (You can read his full biography here.)
Borys Gudziak was ordained a priest in 1998 and became a bishop in 2012.
After half a century of being suppressed by communist regime, the Lviv Theological Academy reopened its programs in 1994 with several dozen students. At the time, they were based in a modest building of a former kindergarten. As a result of Bishop Borys’s charisma and vision, this educational institution has grown into a major center of learning and evangelization in Ukraine. As of today, it remains the only Catholic university on territories of the entire former Soviet Union. Current programs offered by the Ukrainian Catholic University range from undergraduate and graduate degrees in theology and humanities to the highly-sophisticated training opportunities in business, computers sciences, journalism and other areas. (There is more about this extraordinary school in the recent edition of ONE magazine.)
Bishop Borys also offered spiritual and moral support to his people during the uprisings in Kiev in 2013. He wrote about his experience on the front lines of that conflict in ONE, noting, “I trust in the Lord’s presence and work amid these long-suffering people and in their witness to the world.”
Since the beginning of CNEWA’s involvement in Ukraine, the Lviv Theological Academy that later transformed into the Ukrainian Catholic University has been agency’s main Ukrainian support recipient. CNEWA is proud to be able to make such a wise investment and is grateful to Bishop Borys for his wise stewardship. CNEWA’s team wishes Bishop Borys many of God’s blessings as he continues to serve the Catholic Church as an Eparch of the Paris Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great, as President of The Ukrainian Catholic University and as a visionary leader who wears many other heavy hats.
10 March 2016
St. George Cathedral in Lviv was the site of the 1946 meeting that forced the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church underground for over 40 years. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Today marks a significant and tragic anniversary for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Seventy years ago today, 10 March 1946, the church was brutally liquidated by Stalin’s regime, when the territories of western Ukraine fell under Soviet rule.
The liquidation campaign was orchestrated by the Communist regime as a process of reunification of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church with the Russian Orthodox Church. A special “synod” was held at St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv; about 200 local Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests were coerced to participate. The synod did not have any ecclesiastical legal validity since none of the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchs took part in it; by then, most of them were either under arrest or already in concentration camps. But at this meeting, it was decided that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church would break its ties with the Holy See and that it would be absorbed by the Russian Orthodox Church.
From that point, all clergy and religious who refused were subject to persecution by state authorities. All Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops, along with most of the priests and religious, suffered harsh oppression by the authorities for not giving up their Catholic identity and for staying loyal to their faith and the pope. As a result, from 1946 till 1989, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church — numbering about 2,000 clergy and several million members — was forced underground.
Among the priests who stood up to the regime and refused to acknowledge the validity of the synod’s decisions was my late grandfather, Adam M. Morawski. Despite numerous threats to his life from the communist regime, he continued to minister to his flock as a Catholic priest. In 1949, he and his family were arrested and deported to a labor camp in Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia. After nine years in labor camps, they were allowed to leave Siberia. Father Adam continued to minister secretly as an underground Catholic priest in Soviet Ukraine for the rest of his life. He died in 1982, several years before the church was legalized with the collapse of the Soviet Union. I admire him for his principles, strong faith and his loyalty to the church.
This sad anniversary is a strong reminder that throughout history Catholic Eastern churches have paid a very high price for their Catholic identity — and that they are a great gift to the universal church.
To learn more about how Ukraine’s church is being revived today, read Out from Underground in the Autumn 2015 edition of ONE. And to support Catholics in Ukraine as they work to rebuild their church, visit this giving page.
24 February 2016
The photo above, from November 2015, shows a memorial in Kiev, Ukraine. This week, Ukrainians are commemorating victims who died during December 2013 — February 2014 protests in downtown Kiev. At that time, about 100 peaceful protesters were killed by the pro-presidential security forces. In addition to ordinary Ukrainian citizens, victims included citizens of Belarus and Georgia. You can read a first-hand account of the protests in the Spring 2014
edition of ONE. (photo: Carl Hétu)
3 June 2015
Bishop Christian Riesbeck, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Ottawa, offers a reflection at the beginning of a fundraising breakfast held last Friday in Ottawa, Canada.
(photo: CNEWA Canada)
I would like to share with you some news about a very successful fundraising event which took place last Friday in Ottawa, Canada.
CNEWA Canada in cooperation with a Ukrainian-Canadian community organization, The Ukrainian National Federation of Canada Ottawa-Gatineau Branch, organized a breakfast with a goal to raise funds for families internally displaced by the war in Ukraine.
About 100 people attended. The event brought together CNEWA’s donors, representatives of the Ukrainian-Canadian diasporas and ordinary Canadians from various walks of life who shared a common desire to provide relief for the victims of war in Ukraine.
Bishop Christian Riesbeck, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Ottawa, officially opened the event with a theological reflection and a prayer. The breakfast’s flow was managed by the event’s MC, Father Peter Galadza, director of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies.
Our main speaker was Dr. Andrew Bennett, Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom. In his presentation, Ambassador Bennett shared his insights on the importance of religious freedom in the global context and provided analysis of the challenges to religious minorities on territories that were recently seized by pro-Russian militants. The keynote speaker praised CNEWA’s role in peacebuilding and defense of religious freedom.
The event also featured remarks from members of Canada’s parliament: Jim Eglinski, as a representative of the government of Canada and Paul Dewar, on behalf of the official opposition.
At the conclusion, Carl Hétu, CNEWA Canada’s national director, elaborated on CNEWA’s mission and explained that the funds raised will be used to provide shelter, water, food, clothing and medical supplies to the internally displaced families via regional support centers of Caritas Ukraine, CNEWA’s long-time partner in Ukraine.
We are happy to report that this fundraising breakfast brought in $20,000. This sum adds up to another $20,000 committed by CNEWA Canada for areas with the greatest needs.
Due to the surge of refugees in the Middle East, the problem of internally displaced people in Ukraine has gone largely unreported. (However, you can read a detailed account of the plight of the people of Ukraine in “Casualties of War,” from the Spring 2015 edition of ONE.) Since the beginning of the conflict in Crimea — and later in Donetsk and Luhansk regions — more than one million Ukrainian citizens have had to leave their towns and villages, looking for refuge elsewhere, sometimes in neighboring countries.
To join CNEWA’s efforts to help the people of Ukraine, visit this giving page.
From left to right: Antin Sloboda, Dr. Andrew Bennett, CNEWA Canada’s national director
Carl Hétu. (photo: CNEWA Canada)
8 May 2015
Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin, receives a copy of ONE magazine from CNEWA’s Antin Sloboda during a meeting at the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottowa last week.
(photo: Vicki Karpiak)
Last week I had a chance to attend a meeting with Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa. Mr. Klimkin’s recent visit to Canada to a large extent was an expression of gratitude to the Ukrainian-Canadian community and Canadian government for taking a leadership position in supporting Ukraine in this time of crisis.
At the end of the meeting I presented him with the newest addition of CNEWA’s magazine ONE. The cover story of the magazine has an article by Mark Raczkiewycz, “Casualties of War,” about the suffering of Ukrainian people and the ways Catholic charities — including CNEWA — are providing support to the affected population on the ground.
Besides providing resources for the internally displaced and other people in need, CNEWA plays also a very important role in sharing with the English-speaking world objective information on the situation on the ground. The article by Mark Raczkiewycz is a good example of CNEWA’s multifaceted involvement.
Here’s another example. On 29 May, CNEWA Canada and the Ukrainian National Federation of Ottawa-Gatineau Branch are organizing a special event in Ottawa to raise funds for Ukraine’s internally displaced. The funds will go to CNEWA’s long-term partner Caritas Ukraine, the main humanitarian charity of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Right now Caritas Ukraine provides support to over 80,000 victims of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. If you can be in Ottawa on 29 May, please join us at this event. Tickets are still available.
If you cannot come to Ottawa, please still consider making a meaningful donation for the victims of war in Ukraine. Just visit this link for details. Thank you.
4 September 2014
Refugees who fled from violence in Mosul, Iraq, receive humanitarian aid on 21 August in Dohuk province in Iraqi Kurdistan. (photo: CNS/EPA)
This coming Saturday, 6 September, residents of Canada’s capital and the surrounding areas will be gathering from 1 to 3 P.M. on Parliament Hill to raise awareness of and support for Christians and other religious minorities experiencing persecution in Iraq.
If you are in the area, please come and join us! In these two hours we will have a chance to pray, to listen and to look for ways to help those who suffer.
Among the event’s speakers will be Ottawa’s Archbishop Terrence Prendergast and Carl Hétu, CNEWA Canada’s national director, as well as representatives of Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities.
More information about the rally can be found at this link.
Meantime, please help with a gift to save Iraqi Christians. Visit this page to learn what you can do.
8 August 2014
Displaced people are seen resting on the ground at an area in Duhok, Iraq, on 7 August. (photo: CNS/courtesy Christian Aid Program)
The Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins, vice chair of the CNEWA Board of Directors in Canada, has asked Canadians to provide concrete help to Iraq’s Christians, who have been targeted by militants of the Islamic State.
The recent attacks on Christian communities in Mosul and Qaraqosh have been among the most disturbing acts of violence committed against religious minorities on Iraqi soil. “Islamist extremists, intent on eliminating any trace of Christianity, have cast out tens of thousands of Christians, a people with an almost 2,000-year history in the region,” Cardinal Collins said in his letter.
In his call for action, Cardinal Collins urges the Canadian government to play a greater role in crisis resolution and to expand available spaces for Iraqi Christians seeking asylum in Canada.
The Archdiocese of Toronto has been playing a leading role in assisting Iraqi Christians and it is the largest private sponsor of Middle East refugees to Canada. In 2010, Cardinal Collins himself sponsored an Iraqi family resettling in Canada.
Cardinal Collins announced this week that all funds received for the assistance of Iraqi Christians by the archdiocese will be delivered to the Middle East through CNEWA’s network.
The cardinal’s statement is below:
Statement from Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto,
re: Iraqi Christians
Far away from the comfort of our television screens, tablets and newspapers, a tragedy continues to unfold in Iraq. Islamist extremists, intent on eliminating any trace of Christianity, have cast out tens of thousands of Christians, a people with an almost 2,000-year history in the region.
Shortly after I began my mission as Archbishop of Toronto, 7 years ago, the Archbishop of Mosul visited me and shared his hopes for caring for his community. He wanted to build a little school, and we tried to help him. He also told me of what his people were suffering even then. Now Mosul, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, is devoid of any trace of Christianity. Churches have been desecrated and destroyed. Families have been told they must convert to Islam or die.
Scenes unfold daily of residents forced to flee their homes, stripped of their possessions, right down to the crosses around their necks, while others are murdered, martyrs literally laying down their lives for their faith. In 2003, there were an estimated one million Christians in Iraq; some suggest that no more than 150,000 remain today.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stated that this persecution could be considered a “crime against humanity.” Iraqi Christians have been begging the world to help them. It is fair to question whether the world is listening?
From a distance, we ask ourselves, what to do? It is good that our Prime Minister has condemned this violence in Iraq. We can urge the Canadian government to use its full diplomatic influence to support the demands of the Archbishops of Mosul, led by His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael I. These faith leaders have urged the Iraqi national government to:
Provide full protection of all religious rights and those of other minorities who wish to remain in their homeland.
Offer financial support for displaced families who have lost everything.
Compensate victims for damages and losses suffered by Christians, providing immediate shelter and educational facilities to those forced now to live in refugee camps.
In Canada, I appeal to our government to expand available spaces for Iraqi Christians seeking refuge in our country, and to remove any bureaucratic impediments to their reception. The Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, through the generosity of our parishes, has sponsored 820 refugees from the Middle East, many Iraqi Christians, over the past three years. As the largest Canadian private sponsor of refugees from the region, we stand ready to welcome more, with parishes mobilized to facilitate sponsorship and settlement at a moment’s notice. Let us accelerate the process at once.
We would do well to follow the lead of countries, like France, that have announced publicly their intention to provide asylum for those who are persecuted. Canada should take immediate action to provide a safe haven for those forced to flee their homeland. In Iraq, religious freedom is not just being tested; it is being assaulted.
As always, we join in prayer and solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq. In the words of Pope Francis, “Violence will not win over violence. Violence is won over by peace!”
Let us pray for an authentic peace in Iraq and in so many other troubled places in the world.
3 June 2014
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Violence against Christians Iraqi Refugees Canada
Dr. Anastasia Shkilnyk and her husband Dr. Jim Kingham. (photo: Dr. Jim Kingham)
On 13 May, we learned with great sadness that Dr. Anastasia Shkilnyk had departed to eternal life, after a long battle with cancer. She was 68 years old.
Here at CNEWA Canada, we have known Anastasia as a generous person who strived to make the world a better place and who succeeded in changing many hearts.
Being a Ukrainian Canadian, she cared particularly about the marginalized people of Canada and Ukraine; however, her generosity knew no geographic borders. During her fulfilling life, she championed the principles of social justice and spent enormous amounts of personal time and resources to help victims of discrimination.
In 2013, together with her husband Dr. Jim Kingham, she established with CNEWA Canada a special endowment fund to support social justice projects in Ukraine. A modest woman, Anastasia refused to have the endowment named after her. This year, the endowment will start continuously supporting the charitable initiatives of Caritas Ukraine. One of these projects will be lending medical equipment, free of charge, to poor people with serious temporary and permanent disabilities.
The legacy of Anastasia’s writings, actions and of her sacrificial love will continue transforming lives in many countries. You can read more about her remarkable life in this tribute, on the website for Ukrainian Catholic University.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her ...
18 March 2014
Tags: Ukraine CNEWA Canada
Rev. Mykola Kvych with his Crimean parishioners blesses Holy Water during the
Feast of Theophany. (photo: kapelanstvo.com.ua)
Over the weekend, the Ukrainian community was shocked to learn about the abduction of a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest by armed men in the Crimea.
On Saturday, 15 March, a group of militants kidnapped Rev. Mykola Kvych from his parish church, Assumption of the Virgin Mary, in the Crimean city of Sevastopol. Besides providing pastoral care to the local Ukrainian Greek Catholic population, Father Kvych has also been ministering as a chaplain at the Ukrainian navy base. After several hours of interrogation and torture, the priest was released. However, his kidnappers reportedly warned him that if he continues his ministry, he will be tried and punished severely.
Two other Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests — Rev. Ihor Havryliv and Rev. Bogdan Kostecki — have also reportedly been approached and threatened by radicals because of their pastoral work. But reports indicate priests have been resisting intimidation tactics. Catholic News Agency reported on Sunday:
Priests in Crimea of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has received numerous oral and written threats in recent weeks, as military tensions have escalated on the peninsula; several were warned to leave Crimea, yet have remained with their flock.
“Our priests and bishops have been very close to the people,” said Bishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Eparchy of St. Vladimir-Le-Grand of Paris, according to Vatican Radio. “We’ve been inspired by the example of Our Lord (who) went a long distance from fellowship with the Father to incarnate himself and be in our reality.”
The church’s priests in Crimea have been inspired by Pope Francis, “who said a pastor needs to have the smell of his sheep. And our pastors have been with the people, and they’re today with the people enduring this occupation in the Crimea,” Bishop Gudziak noted.
“Every abduction is a terrible event for everybody involved,” the bishop stated, emphasizing that “it’s a gross violation of human rights and God-given human dignity.”
Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom, Andrew Bennett, has expressed concern over the situation, stating, “On behalf of all Canadians who value freedom of religion and adherence to the rule of law, we call for an end to such practices of intimidation and for those responsible to be brought to justice.”
To help the Ukrainian Catholic Church in its peacebuilding mission in Ukraine, please visit this page.
13 March 2014
Father Mykhailo Dymyd stands in downtown Kiev at the site of the demonstrations on the Maidan.
(photo: Yaryna Pochtarenko)
Priests and sisters have shown extraordinary courage throughout the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. With their bodies, they are protecting people from violence. With their voices, they are speaking out for unity, harmony and the common good. In these new and uncertain days, courageous priests and sisters are needed more than ever.
A Kiev-based journalist, Liubov Eremicheva, had a chance to interview some of these special men who were present on the Maidan when the protests were taking place. One of them is Father Mykhailo Dymyd from Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. Here’s part of what he had to say:
“The main mission of a priest is prayer. Prayer can be manifested in many different ways. For me as a priest, the most important prayer is the Divine Liturgy. Millions of people bring their own sacrifice. A hundred people died on the Maidan during demonstrations and we need to value their sacrifice. Prayer and liturgy are important because they bring our sacrifices in front of God, who is capable of transforming them into something lasting and deeply rooted in our hearts. Prayer helps people return home to their towns and villages with a new spirit: the spirit of love and respect, which we all felt when were here on the Maidan in Kiev. When a priest prays, then others around him pray with him as well, regardless of their religious affiliation or even regardless of whether they believe in God at all. A priest is a symbol of a spiritual support. We listen to people’s needs and hear what they have to say; we comfort and hear confessions. … Some of the boys who died here on the square had come to me and said: ’I want to confess because I want to die sinless.‘ They felt that these might be the last moments of their life.
“A priest has to be with his people always, not only at the parish or when the life is good. He has to care about his people and accompany them on their journeys. Right now, our people have shown tremendous efforts in protesting for their dignity on the Maidan Square. However, right now, many are asking themselves: ‘What’s next?’ When people started to fight for their rights, they forgot for a moment about their daily problems. Now that some victory has been achieved, people are returning again to their daily problems. When we were thirsty for freedom, we were all together. Now we are returning to our corners and we might feel lonely there again. And in these moments, people have to help one another; this is not something that only priests can do.”
Through Catholic Near East Welfare Association, you can assist priests like Father Mykhailo Dymyd to stand with the Ukrainian people and their aspirations for a better future. You can help the church to reach out to the marginalized, the sick and the poor.
Please click here to make a generous gift for Ukraine today!
Tags: Ukraine CNEWA Eastern Churches Church Ukrainian Catholic Church