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In the evenings, he celebrates the Divine Liturgy, after which he instructs a marriage preparation course to the parish’s young couples.

“There is always more work for the younger priests,” smiles Father Hrynyk. “But I am full of hope and energy, as my wife and my 2-year-old daughter, Yustyna, support me in my calling.”

Holy Spirit Seminary has high academic standards. Applicants must take an entrance exam to enroll in the yearlong preliminary program. On average, only about 80 percent of applicants pass. At the end of the preliminary year, students then take an entrance exam to enter the seminary. In 2011, only 47 of 69 students passed the exam.

Each year, on average two or three students fail. Over the course of the six-year program, about a third of the seminarians will fail, be asked to leave or drop out for one reason or another.

“We are looking for quality and not quantity,” explains the rector, Father Fredyna. “If a seminarian believes in his vocation, he should study the scholarship of the kingdom of God. We are extremely concerned about forming well-educated and pious priests.”

In each graduating class, another one or two seminarians do not take their priestly vows. “Most of them become successful in business or education,” says the rector.

In 2008, Holy Spirit Seminary received a perfect score in an assessment conducted by a special curia comprised of rectors from seminaries in Ukraine, Rome and around the world. Holy Spirit’s perfect score has bolstered its reputation as the premiere Ukrainian Greek Catholic seminary. It now attracts applicants from all over the country.

My brother even told me to enter the seminary somewhere else since I did not excel in school, but I refused,” says Yuriy Ostapyuk, who graduated from Holy Spirit in 2009. “And I have never regretted it. Moreover, it was in Lviv where I met my fiancée.”

Born in the town of Sokal, 48 miles northeast of Lviv, the 26-year-old subdeacon did not always have a strong connection to his Christian faith. Though his second cousin is a priest and his devout grandmother regularly took him to church, the restless youth spent most of his time in bad company, engaging in delinquent behavior. “Never. I’ll be anything but a priest,” he recalls telling his grandmother when she brought up the priesthood. “Never say never,” adds Subdeacon Ostapyuk with a smile.

He attended a high school for music, specializing in the trombone. Upon graduation, he considered pursuing a career in music and enrolled in a school for music and theology.

“I don’t know how it happened. I entered a school for music and theology and then the Lviv seminary after that, which I took to like a duck to water.”

In his sixth and final year at Holy Spirit, he and a friend, Father Roman Prokopets, founded a spiritual outreach program for orphans within the Mriya Rehabilitation Center in Lviv. The center’s director greeted the young men’s idea with enthusiasm, offering them space for an office and a chapel.

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Tags: Education Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Priests Seminarians Vocations (religious)