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Bishop Pataki also established an eparchial assembly (the same as a diocesan synod in the Latin Church), which resulted in the promulgation of eparchial statutes in September 1993. These statutes seek to make the new canons more effective in the eparchy and improve implementation of the teachings of Vatican II. Through the various structures and programs outlined in the statutes, there has been an increase in lay representation and leadership throughout the eparchy.

Of similar importance is the new eparchial mission statement that lists evangelization as the most important mission of the eparchy. The new Office of Evangelization has prepared materials to assist parish evangelization teams in their tasks. This year there will be an eparchy-wide effort to invite fallen-away Catholics back to their church. The suggested date for this effort is the Sunday after Easter, Thomas Sunday, which is named for the Gospel account of the doubting apostle read that day. This seems an appropriate time to invite back those who have experienced doubts about their faith.

A unique twist to its work of evangelization is the support the Eparchy of Parma provides to the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. Many of the Greek Catholic priests who arrived on these shores nearly 100 years ago to work with the steady flow of immigrants were from western Ukraine. When the Soviet Union annexed western Ukraine the communists liquidated the Greek Catholic Church and turned over most of its property to the Russian Orthodox Church. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, the Greek Catholic Church has been legalized and a portion of its property has been restored. However the job of restoring ecclesial life is now the responsibility of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic hierarchy.

Bishop Ivan Semedi of Mukacevo has undertaken the task of building a seminary to train the many candidates who are eager to become priests. Unfortunately there is little money available. After construction began in late summer 1992, financial problems caused repeated delays. Construction halted in June 1994. Today the half-completed building sits idly while weeds grow around it. Meanwhile the seminarians live and study in makeshift quarters.

Wishing to return something for what they received years ago, a group of clergy and laity in the eparchy recently formed the Three Holy Hierarchs Association. Named for the original patron saints of the old seminary in Uzhorod, Ukraine, the association plans to raise funds to complete the construction of the new seminary. This will help repay a debt of gratitude for those pioneering priests who brought the Byzantine Catholic faith to the New World.

With the grace of God the whole Catholic Church, Byzantine and Roman, will forge ahead, overcoming obstacles, growing in faith and love so that the kingdom of God may unfold, revealing to all the glorious tradition of the church, East and West.

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Father Rachford is Director of Communications for the Eparchy of Parma.

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Tags: Eastern Christianity United States Priests Byzantine Catholic Church