Bishop Richard Stephen of the St. Nicholas Eparchy      Patriarch Sviatoslav of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church      Bishop Kevin Vann of the Fort Worth Diocese      Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Dallas Diocese      Benedict XVI, Pope of Rome
October 25th, 2018

Florensky’s On Friendship

On FriendshipFr. Pavel (Paul) Florensky’s The Pillar and Ground of the Truth: An Essay in Orthodox Theodicy in Twelve Letters is going for $60 and up. Way up!

Attached is a PDF of the chapter from it we’re reading for the Oct 28 adult catechesis class: On Friendship. Debra Baldwin (a humanities professor at the University of Dallas) and Fr. Deacon John will be facilitating a discussion of the book in the church. ALL ARE WELCOME!

There’s only one rule in St. Sophia’s Study Sessions: don’t apologize if you don’t finish the reading! Do attend the meetings, even if you haven’t finished, and soak up the conversation. You may be inspired to go home and pick up that book! That said, it’s hard to have a discussion if no one has read, so do your best!

Generally speaking, the 1 hour schedule follows this format:
• 5 minutes: Facilitator (Debra Baldwin) gives a candid, encouraging reflection that helps focus the group and launch the discussion.
• 45 minutes: Group discussion. First with an initial go-around where each person offers a brief thought or reflection from the book (you are free to pass) followed by open discussion.
• 10 minutes: Leader introduces the upcoming book (The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence facilitated by Sarah Morrissette on Dec 30, 2018.)

Download or read the PDF on your device: Letter-Eleven-Friendship-The-Pillar-and-the-Ground-of-the-Truth-Pavel-Florensky

Or read it online here:

Read or share the parish email announcement: St. Sophia Study Session “On Friendship” with Debra Baldwin, Ph.D

February 1st, 2018

Bishops call Christian families to morning and evening prayer

To Our Clergy, Hieromonks and Brothers, Religious Sisters, Seminarians and Beloved Faithful

Всечеснішому Духовенству, Преподобному Монашеству, Семінаристам, Нашим Дорогим Вірним

The Lord, who loves every human being in the world, gifted each one of us with a unique and unrepeatable life. When we contemplate our life, then we see how much effort we expend in order to feel happy.  In this materialistic world, each one of us associates his/her happiness with one thing or another.  All of us achieve something, however nothing satisfies us, and again, we apply immense effort to obtain and achieve the next perception of “happiness”.
Господь, який любить кожну людину у світі, подарував кожному унікальне і неповторне життя. Коли ми споглянемо на своє життя, то бачимо, як багато прикладаємо зусиль, щоб почуватись щасливими. Кожен з нас пов’язує своє щастя з тим, чи іншим у цьому матеріальному світі. Усі ми щось здобуваємо, однак ніщо не задовольняє нас, і ми знову прикладаємо неймовірних зусиль щоби здобути, і осягнути чергове відчуття “щастя”.

This is the way the rest of our entire life could pass us by.  The problem is that we identify ourselves with our body and aspire to attain happiness on the physical level.  However, the human being is comprised not only of a body, because there is also a soul. That is why, Saint Augustine, reflecting on this understanding of our nature, says: “My heart is restless until it finds its rest in the Lord”. Our dwelling with the Lord, our prayer, fills us with the understanding as to how and what we should do, what to avoid, and how to build relationships with people. In this manner, we begin to be ever more aware of what God really wants of us in this case or in a different situation. The quality of our prayer may be seen from the way we are afterwards. Our prayer puts an imprint on our entire life!
У такий спосіб може пройти ціле наше життя. Проблема у тому, що ми ідентифікуємо себе зі своїм тілом і бажаємо осягнути щастя на тілесному рівні. Однак людина складається не тільки з одного тіла, бо ще є душа. Святий Августин віддзеркалює таке розуміння нашої природи: “Моє серце не зазнає спокою, аж поки не спочине в Господі”. Наше перебування з Господом, наша молитва сповнює нас розумінням того, що і як ми маємо робити, чого уникати, та як будувати стосунки з іншими людьми. У такий спосіб починаємо все більше усвідомлювати, що дійсно від нас Бог хоче в тій чи іншій ситуації. Якість нашої молитви можна побачити з того, які ми є після неї. Наша молитва кладе відбиток на все наше життя!

We can frequently think that conversation with God, which is prayer, is a useless waste of time. The reason might also be that we ourselves do not completely understand how important it is for us to abide with our Creator. We are materialistic because we live in this materialistic world. Throughout life, we devote much time to everyday matters or concerns, although we see how little time we spend in prayer. Very often, owing to a lack of prayer, we stumble upon a mistaken conviction and make the incorrect choice. We can be certain that the root of all our negative conditions, problems, and crisis is the same ― neglect of prayer.  From personal experience, each one of us knows that, when we are “watchful” about prayer, then everything else also goes well, in harmony and uniformity with God.
Ми часто можемо думати, що спілкування з Богом, тобто молитва, є марною тратою часу. Причиною цього може бути те, що до кінця самі не розуміємо на скільки для нас важливо перебувати зі своїм Творцем. Ми є матеріалістичні, бо живемо у цьому матеріалістичному світі. У своєму житті ми присвячуємо багато часу буденним речам чи справам, однак бачимо, як мало часу проводимо у молитві. Дуже часто, з огляду на брак молитви, ми потрапляємо у помилкове переконання і робимо неправильний вибір. Можемо бути певні, що корінь усіх наших негативних станів, проблем, та криз є спільний — занедбання молитви. Кожен з нас добре знає з власного досвіду, що коли “пильнує” молитву, то тоді все інше йде також добре, у Божій гармонії та порядку.

Exactly for this reason we call upon all Christian families to nurture shared morning and evening prayer in the family circle. Especially we encourage you to gather together and pray as a family in your homes at 9:00 o’clock in the evening (regardless of time zones). We should pray, each one for their needs: for the family as well as the parish, for the eparchy and the entire Church, for peace in Ukraine and USA, for vocations and other intentions. Therefore, let us begin this year with prayer together, with reflection on God’s Word, in selfless service to one another and with trust in God!
Саме тому, ми закликаємо усі наші християнські родини плекати спільну ранішню і вечірню молитву в родинному колі. Особливо заохочуємо Вас збиратись родиною на спільну молитву у своїх домівках о 9 годині вечора (незалежно від часового поясу). Молитись маємо, кожен за свої потреби: за родину та парафію, єпархію та цілу нашу Церкву, за мир в Україні і США, за покликання, та інші намірення. Тому разом розпочинаймо цей рік у молитві, у розважанні над Словом Божим, у жертовному служінні один одному та у довір’ї до Бога!

As a basis for our prayer we can use the Introductory Prayers starting with “Heavenly King”, through the “Our Father” and adding the “Hail Mary”.
Як основну молитву можемо вживати “Початок звичайний”, від “Царю Небесний”, до “Отче Наш”, додаючи “Богородице Діво”.

We also encourage our pastors to facilitate weekly or periodic prayer meetings with the faithful.  It can be an opportunity to share experiences about prayer and to grow in our faith.  The Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church can serve as an excellent source for learning and reflection on our faith.  Excerpts read during the prayer meetings and before or after our worship gatherings may facilitate greater insight into the power of faith in our daily life.
Ми також закликаємо наших парохів щотижня або періодично організовувати молитовні зустрічі з вірними.  Це може стати нагодою ділитися досвідом про молитву і зростання у вірі. Катехизм   нашої Української Католицької Церкви може служити чудовим джерелом навчання і роздумування над нашою вірою.  Читання уривків підчас молитовних зустрічей, перед ними чи після, може  послужити глибшому проникненню в силу віри в нашому щоденному житті.

Your hierarchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church join in solidarity with you with our fervent and steadfast prayers offered for all.  Let us gather in our families at home, and in our parish and eparchial families for shared prayer.  We love you and we pray for you.
Наші Єрархи Української Католицької Церкви приєднуються до вас у своїх щирих постійних молитвах за вас.  Збираймося нашими сім’ями вдома, в наших парафіяльних та єпархіяльних родинах для спільної молитви.  Ми любимо вас і ми молимося за вас.

+Stefan Soroka
Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians
Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States
+Високопреосвященний Стефан Сорока
Митрополит Української Католицької Церкви у США
Архиєпископ Філадельфіийський для Укpаіїнців

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford
+Преосвященний Павло Хомницький, ЧСВВ
Єпископ Стемфордської єпархії

+Benedict Aleksiychuk  (author)
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago
+Преосвященний Венедикт Алексійчук  (автор)
Єпископ Чіказької єпархії святого Миколaя

+ Bohdan J. Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma
+Преосвященний Богдан Данило
Єпископ Пармської єпархії святого Йосафата

+John Bura
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
+Преосвященний Іван Бура
Єпископ-Помічник Філадельфійський

+Andriy Rabiy
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
+Преосвященний Андрій Рабій
Єпископ-Помічник Філадельфійський

April 20th, 2017

Welcome Bp. Venedykt!

Venedykt AleksiychukHis Excellency Msgr. Venedykt (Valery) Aleksiychuk, M.S.U. has been appointed as the Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Nicholas of Chicago for Ukrainians.

Active in children’s and youth ministry, monastic spirituality and reform, liturgy, psychology and spirituality, His Excellency has a breadth of experience spanning parochial, consultative, administrative, and monastic leadership. He is sure to be a blessing to our eparchy and to our nation.

У четвер, 20 квітня 2017 року, у Ватикані повідомлено про те, що Папа Франциск поблагословив рішення Синоду Єпископів УГКЦ про призначення дотеперішнього Єпископа-помічника Львівської архиєпархії владику Венедикта (Алексійчука) Правлячим єпископом єпархії Святого Миколая УГКЦ з осідком у Чикаґо, США, перенісши його з титулярного осідку Германіціяни.

Born on 16 January 1968 in the village of Borshchivka in the region of Rivne, Ukraine, the bishop began his post-secondary studies at the Rivne Medical College, completing his degree in 1987 as a Physician’s Assistant. After graduation, he worked as an Emergency Medical Technician at the ambulance station in Kostopil. From 1987 to 1989, he served in the military. Afterwards, he worked as a Physician’s Assistant, initially at a city clinic and later at a sanatorium in the city of Truskavets.

After attending the major seminary of Drohobych from 1990-1993, he was ordained a deacon by His Beatitude Phylymon (Kurchaba) on October 9, 1991 and a priest by His Beatitude Myroslav-Ivan (Lyubachivskyi) on 29 March 1992. A year later, on 13 May 1993, he joined the Univ Holy Dormition Lavra of the Studite Order–the only lavra (monastic hermitage) of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. He accepted tonsure on 13 October 1993 and received the little schema on 31 December 1995.

In 1996, he completed a Masters of Theology degree at Lublin Catholic University with a thesis on the topic of “Christian spirituality according to St. John of Kronstadt.” Later that year, he was transferred to St. Catharine’s in Canada with the aim of founding a monastery there. At the time, he also served at the parishes of Grimsby and Beamsville for the Toronto Eparchy of the UGCC. He returned to Ukraine in April 1999 after being elected hegumen of the Univ Holy Dormition Lavra. In May 2000, he was re-elected hegumen and he was then elected for a third term in May 2005.

He went on to continue his theological studies at Lublin Catholic University with a licentiate degree in 2006 and a 2008 Doctorate of Philosophy with a thesis on “The Superior as a Spiritual Father: Investigation in the light of the works of Saint Theodore the Studite.”

Picking up the thread of his work as a Physician’s Assistant, he focused his studies on psychology from 2008-2012, completing a course of Practical Psychology at the European School of Correspondential Education (Kharkiv), Propaedeutics of Mental Disorders with the Ukrainian Community of Psychiatrists, and Pedagogy and Psychology at the Ignatianum Academy in Krakow, Poland.

All this was accomplished while he:

  • was an assistant priest at Holy Trinity Church in Drohobych,
  • was responsible for children’s ministry within the Drohobych deanery,
  • worked for the Patriarchal Catechetical Commission where he was responsible for the organization of mission work in Eastern Ukraine,
  • was a member of the Patriarchal Commission of Monasticism,
  • was the administrator of St. Nicholas parish in Peremyshlyany,
  • worked on the renewal of monastic life and the restoration of the Monastery of Borys and Hlib in Polotsk (Belarus) while simultaneously serving at the parishes in Polotsk, Vitebsk, Gomel, Mogilev, and Brest (Belarusian Greek Catholic Church),
  • was the spiritual father of the Christian Youth Community in Minsk,
  • was the head of the Secretariat of the UGCC Council of Monasticism,
  • was the head of the UGCC liturgical council on preparing texts of divine services,
  • was the head of the Council of Higher Superiors of Monasteries of the UGCC,
  • was a member of the Secretariat of the Patriarchal Sobor,
  • was the head of staff of the Lviv Archeparchy Curia,
  • was the head of the Patriarchal Liturgical Commission of the UGCC,
  • was the chair of the Synodal Committee on Liturgical Issues,
  • and wrote four books: A Superior as A Spiritual Father, Spiritual Instructions, Be Saints, and Borshchivka – A Pearl of Polesia.

His episcopal ordination was held on 5 September 2010 at St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv with Archbishop Ihor (Voznyak), the Metropolitan of Lviv, as the main consecrator and Bishop Yulian (Voronovskyi) of Sambir-Drohobych and Bishop Pavlo (Chomytskyi) of Stamford as the co-consecrators. On 3 August 2010, His Beatitude Lyubomyr (Husar), Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Galicia, by general consent of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC, appointed hieromonk Venedykt (Aleksiychuk) the bishop-auxiliary of Lviv Archeparchy with a titular see in Germaniciana.

From 2014-2016, the bishop studied in the Key Executive MBA Program at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv and obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. During this time, he also published two books (Reflections on the Liturgical Reading of the Gospel and Reflections on the Liturgical Reading of the Apostles), was awarded the Cross of Military Chaplain, and named a senator of the Ukrainian Catholic University.

On 20 April 2017, the synod of bishops’ election was confirmed by Pope Francis, appointing him Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Nicholas of Chicago of the Ukrainians in the United States of America. We welcome him warmly to the eparchy!

Довідка про єпархію. Єпархія святого Миколая в Чикаґо входить до Філадельфійської митрополії та є її найбільшою частиною з огляду на територію, охоплюючи території північних, центральних та західних штатів країни. Вона була заснована 1961 року та згідно з даними «Annuario Pontificio 2017», станом на минулий рік нараховувала приблизно 50 парафій, надаючи духовну опіку понад 10 тисячам вірних. Цей осідок став вакантним 16 серпня 2016 року після відходу до вічності четвертого Єпарха Чиказького владики Річарда (Семінака).

February 14th, 2016

Patriarch Sviatoslav on the Meeting of Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill

Below are excerpts from an interview with Patriarch Sviatoslav on the topic of the Cuban meeting of Pope Francis and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. The full interview can be read in English here and in Ukrainian here. The joint declaration the two issued and on which Patriarch Sviatoslav is commenting can be read here.

Firstly, I would like to say something about the meeting of the Holy Father with Patriarch Kirill, and then I will comment on the text of the declaration.

One notices immediately, especially from their comments after the meeting, that the two sides existed on two completely different planes and were pursuing different goals. His Holiness Pope Francis experienced this encounter primarily as a spiritual event. He opened his remarks by noting that we, Catholics and Orthodox, share one and the same Baptism. In the meeting, he sought out the presence of the Holy Spirit and received His support. He emphasized that the unity of the Churches can be achieved when we travel together on the same path. From the Moscow Patriarch one immediately sensed that this wasn’t about any Spirit, or theology, or actual religious matters. No common prayer, an emphasis on official phrases about “the fate of the world,” and the airport as a neutral, that is, non-ecclesial environment. The impression was that they existed in two parallel worlds. Did these two parallel realities intersect during this meeting? I don’t know, but according to the rules of mathematics, two parallel lines do not intersect.

Speaking of the signed text of the Joint Declaration, in general it is positive. In it are raised questions, which are of concern to both Catholics and Orthodox, and it opens new perspectives for cooperation. I encourage all to look for these positive elements. However, the points which concern Ukraine in general and specifically the UGCC raised more questions than answers.

It was officially reported that this document was the joint effort of Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) from the Orthodox side and Cardinal Koch with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from the Catholic side. For a document that was intended to be not theological, but essentially socio-political, it is hard to imagine a weaker team than the one that drafted this text. The mentioned Pontifical Council is competent in theological matters in relations with various Christian Churches and communities, but is no expert in matters of international politics, especially in delicate matters such as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Thus, the intended character of the document was beyond their capabilities. This was exploited by the Department of External Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is, first of all, the instrument of diplomacy and external politics of the Moscow Patriarchate. I would note that, as the Head of our Church, I am an official member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, nominated already by Pope Benedict. However, no one invited me to express my thoughts and so, essentially, as had already happened previously, they spoke about us without us, without giving us a voice.

In general, I would like to say that paragraph 26 of the Declaration is the most controversial. One gets the impression that the Moscow Patriarchate is either stubbornly refusing to admit that it is a party to the conflict, namely, that it openly supports the aggression of Russia against Ukraine, and, by the way, also blesses the military actions of Russia in Syria as a “holy war,” or it is appealing first of all to its own conscience, calling itself to the same prudence, social solidarity, and the active building of peace.

Nonetheless, I encourage our faithful not to dramatize this Declaration and not to exaggerate its importance for Church life. We have experienced more than one such statement, and will survive this one as well. We need to remember that our unity and full communion with the Holy Father, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, is not the result of political agreement or diplomatic compromise, or the clarity of a Joint Declaration text. This unity and communion with the Peter of today is a matter of our faith. It is to him, Pope Francis, and to each of us today, that Christ says in the Gospel of Luke: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

November 26th, 2013

Patriarch SVIATOSLAV in Rome

On Nov 25, 2013, Patriarch SVIATOSLAV led a solemn Pontifical Divine Liturgy at the altar of the Vatican Basilica of St. Peter on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the transfer of the relics of St. Josaphat, martyr for Church unity.

Speaking fluently in the pope’s native Portuguese, Patriarch Sviatoslav greeted Pope Francis by saying, “Vostra Santità, vi presento la Chiesa Ucraina Greco-Cattolica, una Chiesa Patriarcale.” “Your Holiness, I present to You the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, a Patriarchal Church.”

St. Josaphat (Kuncevych) was a Basilian monk and archeparch (archbishop) of Polotsk who lived from 1580 to 1623, which meant he faced the daunting task of bringing the local populace to accept the Union of Brest which declared the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church’s union with Rome. St. Josaphat faced stiff opposition from the monks, who feared a Latinization of the liturgy of the Church. As archeparch, he restored the churches: he issued a catechism to the clergy, with instructions that it should be learned by heart; composed rules for the priestly life, entrusting to the deacons the task of superintending their observance; assembled synods in various towns in the dioceses, and firmly opposed the Polish Imperial Chancellor Sapieha who wished to make too many concessions to the Eastern Orthodox. Throughout all his strivings and all his occupations, he continued his religious devotion as a monk, and never abated his desire for self-mortification. Through all this he was successful in winning over a large portion of the people.

St. Josaphat’s activity provoked a strong reaction. A rival hierarchy was set up by the Orthodox Church, with a monk being appointed the Orthodox Archeparch of Polotsk. Smotrytsky publicly claimed that St. Josaphat was preparing a total Latinization of the Church and its rituals. The inhabitants of Mogilev revolted against the saint in October 1618 and chased him out of the city. St. Josaphat then complained to King Sigismund who brutally suppressed the Orthodox revolt—all leaders of the revolt were executed by the king and the rival Orthodox churches were taken away and given to the Greek-Catholics.

The suppression caused the saint to be even more fiercely resisted by the Orthodox. During November 1623, despite warnings, he went to Vitebsk. There, on November 12th, the Orthodox sent to his residence a priest who stood in the courtyard of his house shouting insults like “uniate” at him. The archbishop had the priest taken away and confined to his house. In response, the town bell was rung, which summoned a mob of Orthodox Christians who rejected union with Rome. The mob attacked the archbishop’s residence, and in the course of the attack an axe-stroke and a bullet ended his life. His body was tossed into the river. It was recovered and honored, eventually transported to Rome and given the honor of burial within St. Peter’s Basilica. It was on the 50th anniversary of this transfer that Patriarch SVIATOSLAV visited Rome and held a solemn pontifical liturgy at the altar where St. Josaphat is buried. Over 3,000 pilgrims from Ukraine and Belarus were in attendance.

Pope Francis addressed the pilgrims by saying, “The memory of this martyred saint speaks to us about the communion of saints, of the communion of life between all of the people who belong to Christ.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, the best way to celebrate St. Josaphat is to love among each other and to love and serve the unity of the Church. We are supported in this also by the courageous witness of so many martyrs of recent times, which constitute a great wealth and a great comfort for your Church.”

“I hope that the deep communion that you wish to strengthen each day within the Catholic Church, will help you build bridges of fraternity also with other Churches and ecclesiastical communities in Ukrainian land, and wherever your communities are present,” the pope concluded.

Patriarch Sviatoslav St Josaphat Transfer Rome Nov 2013

Some text adapted from Wikipedia’s article on St. Josaphat under it’s creative commons license.

July 6th, 2013

Eastern Catholics Communing in a Roman Mass

Just in time for your summer travels! Those of you traveling to areas where the priests aren’t familiar with Eastern Catholicism can now print off a guide that hits all the important points about Eastern Catholic faithful communing in Roman Catholic parishes.When Eastern Catholics Commune at a Roman Catholic Mass Front

Questions answered include:

  • What should Eastern Catholics do when visiting a Roman Catholic Mass?
  • Is the Eastern Catholic held to western rules when in the Latin Church?
  • What happens when the norms contradict each other?
  • Does it contradict the Latin rite’s liturgical norms to commune an infant?
  • Is a person who is under the age of reason properly disposed to receive?
  • May the priest apply prudential judgment if he thinks the visitor is significantly lacking in knowledge or understanding of the Eucharist?
  • What if the congregation might be scandalized by a child receiving?
  • What makes an Eastern Catholic properly disposed to receive?
  • How can the Eucharist be administered to an infant or toddler?

We hope it will assist many–clergy, religious, and laity of East and West alike–in greater appreciation and participation in the universal nature of the Church. We encourage you to share it far and wide online and in person!

The pamphlet is the first major work of The Star of the East, a canonically established public association of the faithful, headquartered at St. Sophia. The Star of the East has a primary mission of disseminating reliable and orthodox material from appropriate and competent authorities to Eastern Catholic clerical, religious, and lay leaders on the topics of evangelism, catechesis, and missiology.

We want every Catholic to have free access to this meticulously accurate, easily comprehensible guide and we put in all the work to make that a reality. All that needs to happen now is to have it shared!

You can direct others to the St. Sophia website to see more about it, or to download and share the fantastic resource.

This pamphlet is offered under an “Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives” Creative Commons license. That means others may download and share the pamphlet as long as the author/publisher is attributed, it isn’t used commercially or for profit, and isn’t changed in any way. Using 2-sided printing, it fits on a single 8.5″ x 11″ paper.

September 8th, 2012

Encounter 2012 is upon us!

Every ENCOUNTER presents an opportunity for change.

An encounter is described as a ‘coming together,’ a face to face meeting, an experience, which may be unexpected and sudden.

Consider the unexpected spiritual encounters with God related through Scripture; accounts of Abraham and Sarah, Moses, David, Samuel, Elijah, and Jeremiah; Mary, Joseph, the Apostles, the centurion, the woman at the well, the blind man, the paralytic, the possessed, the adulteress, the myhrr-bearing women, and on and on. Their sudden and unexpected encounters with the living God resulted in each experiencing a personal change, a metanoia, and a call to discipleship; a burning desire, a commitment to spread the good news and good works of their God.

There are so many examples throughout church history and present times of encounters—those face-to-face meetings, sudden or unexpected experiences– with the living God. Contemporary society may refer to these as “Aha!” moments. But, when guided by the Spirit of love and the eyes of our hearts, God is encountered in the poor, the lonely, the hungry, the sick, the dying, the imprisoned, the orphans, the widows, the undereducated, the addicted, the abused, the homeless, the rejected and the persecuted. These encounters result in God’s people experiencing a personal change and the call to discipleship, with the desire, determination and commitment to become God’s eyes and heart, His hands and feet, His love and mercy. By sharing the love we receive from God, we act on our call to ministry. Led by the Spirit, this is spiritual discipleship.

One may ask, “Is a lay person really called to discipleship and to be about God’s work?” Paul guides us with these words, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,…and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:13). And so by virtue of our baptism we are all called to discipleship, members of the royal priesthood, anointed in the oil of chrismation and sent forth as workers in Christ’s vineyard, not alone, but as co-workers. “All you who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!”

ENCOUNTER 2012 of the Eastern Catholic Churches invites us—each one of us—to be open to our call to spiritual discipleship through the theme “Together in Christ” and with the purpose of exploring “clergy and laity together in the vineyard of Christ” with “Unity in Mission; Diversity in Ministry.” In Romans 12: 4-8, Paul tells us, “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Encountering God, personal metanoia, service through discipleship, co-worker in the vineyard of Christ—this is the promise of ENCOUNTER 2012 of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Many are called, will you be among the chosen? Will you accept the invitation to…ENCOUNTER?

ENCOUNTER 2012: Eastern Catholic Churches “Together in Christ” is a unique Conference embracing the entire Church family, bishops, clergy, religious and laity, who through baptism, share in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Christ.” The Eastern Catholic Bishops of the U.S.A. invite all seekers to come and experience ENCOUNTER. Choose the most convenient location and date.

Thursday and Friday of the Conference are reserved for clergy due to Liturgical obligations Saturday and Sunday. The Clergy Conference, which begins Thursday with registration from 1 to 2 p.m., includes prayer services, sessions, vendor visits and hospitality. The conference concludes Friday 2 p.m. Topics for the sessions are the same as the main conference.

The Main Conference, for bishops, clergy, religious and laity, begins Friday at 5 p.m. with registration and hospitality. Registration will begin again Saturday at 8:00 a.m, for those arriving. A continental breakfast will be available until time of prayer. The opening prayer service is at 9:45 a.m. The day includes sessions, visits to vendor booths, meals, prayer and hospitality. The topics of the sessions include: Who is Church? Activity of the Royal Priesthood, The ‘How’ and ‘Why’ of Lay Leadership: Action—Put on Christ, and, Blueprint for Church Growth. Sunday begins with Matins, Divine Liturgy and the keynote address at brunch—a charge to ‘Servant Leadership: Be all you can be!” Liturgical services will be according to the sacred-uniqueness of the faith traditions of the various Eastern Churches.

MID-WEST: Cleveland, Ohio
EAST: Hillsborough, New Jersey
WEST: El Segundo, California
MID-WEST September 20-23, 2012
Holiday Inn Cleveland South Independence
6001 Rockside Rd., Independence, OH 44131
Rooms: $89.00/night 216-524-8050

EAST October 11 – 14, 2012
St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Center
1900 Brooks Blvd., Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Rooms: Days Inn (½ mile from St. Mary)
$59.99/night 908-685-9000

WEST November 1-4, 2012
Hacienda Hotel (at LAX Airport)
525 N.Sepulveda Blvd. El Segundo, CA 90245
Rooms: $69.00/night 310-615-0015/800-421-5900

Contact hotel directly for room reservations. Use group name Encounter for special rate.

Conference registration and payment will be accepted on-line at the below links or registration may be by mail with the brochure registration form and payment sent to the regional coordinator at the indicated address. Brochures will be available at all Eparchial parishes, regional coordinator offices and on-line.


Fee for the conference is $75 for individuals; $50 per person in groups of 5 or more. Reservations for hotel rooms are separate at nominal rates (see brochure or website for information).

Encounter 2012 Brochure
Mid-West Conference Schedule
East Conference Schedule
West Conference Schedule
March 25th, 2012

Lenten Mission 2012 part 2 with Fr. Dennis Smith

March 24th, 2012

Lenten Mission 2012 part 1 with Fr. Dennis Smith

February 22nd, 2012

The Bright Sadness

Today marks the third day of our 48-day Great Fast that is leading us to the Paschal joy of the Resurrection.  As our Roman Catholic brethren begin their lenten journeys today by putting ashes on their heads, we continue ours with the   vesperal Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. As they bury their alleluias, we enter the Season of Alleluias. As they carry the cross with Christ and unite themselves to His sufferings in the Stations of the Cross, we look to the Resurrection in our All Souls Saturdays with the parastas or memorial prayers. As they kneel in repentance, we prostrate ourselves before each other and the Lord.

Many of the externals are different in how East and West make their lenten journeys, but the tri-fold path of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are at the root of our Christian conversion, our metanoia, our transfiguration, our theosis in Christ. Our traditions provide the framework that supports the repentance and conversion we are all called to.

What do we want to happen to us? The Great Fast calls you and me to embrace the need for conversion. We need to desire it. This happens through prayer, through fasting and through acts of charity. These help to remove our natural inclination to resistance to conversion. Prayer, fasting and charitable works orient us to understand God’s grace occurring all around us. Parishioners, together with their pastor, share in the quest for one another’s conversion. We support one another in our journey to a closer encounter with Jesus Christ. Plan to journey together this Great Fast by participating in your parish Lenten services and outreach to others.

Our journey in Great Fast has begun. We have focused ourselves on devoting greater time for prayer and meditation, and have resolved to fast and to offer something extra of ourselves in assisting others in need. Throughout the many parables, we learn of Jesus’ immense mercy. Jesus heals the sick and possessed. Jesus forgives the sinners. You and I can easily find ourselves amidst the sick, the possessed, and the sinners. Admitting that we have offended God, ourselves and others is needed before we can receive true forgiveness and healing. You will recall that those who asked Jesus for help were honest with themselves as to their condition. You and I need to be honest with ourselves about our weaknesses. Is there some anger, bad thoughts, resentment, and so on which we have found difficult to let go? Are there some personal failings which we continue to focus on, be it our own or by others? Whatever it is which possesses us, causes sickness and sinfulness, resolve to surrender it at the feet of Jesus Christ. Jesus is ready to forgive. Jesus is ready to heal. Are you and I ready to approach Jesus Christ with the honesty and readiness needed to be forgiven and to be healed this Great Fast?
-Metropolitan Stefan’s reflections for this week via The Way

Father Pavlo is available 30 minutes before every service for Confession, which includes tonight before the 7PM Pre-Sanctified Liturgy.

“Have you sinned? Go into Church and wipe out your sin. As often as you might fall down in the marketplace, you pick yourself up again. So too, as often as you sin, repent your sin. Do not despair. Even if you sin a second time, repent a second time. Do not by indifference lose hope entirely of the good things prepared. Even if you are in extreme old age and have sinned, go in, repent!”
-St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Penance 3:4

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November 19th, 2011

Roman Catholics reflect on the East’s Spiritual Treasures and Venerable Traditions

Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, the National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer (a Roman Catholic apostolate) reflected on Pope Benedict’s prayer intention for this month:

“For the eastern Churches, that their venerable tradition may be known and appreciated as a spiritual treasure for the entire Church.”

November 18th, 2011

St. Sophia’s has a “Notable Parish Website”

This Catholic Tech Talk article by Brad West lists St. Sophia’s among its notable parish websites! Just think how much better it will be when yours truly, the webmaster, figures out what she’s doing! We’re just getting started.

The Pilot New Media talk and resources on “Creating Excellent Parish Websites” that he mentioned were an amazing resource in this work. We are grateful that the Archdiocese of Boston live streamed it and even took questions all the way from Texas. St. Elias’ church in Brampton and St. Joseph’s in Chicago have also been quite helpful. We are hoping that this website will in turn pay it forward by providing content that other Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Churches can use on their sites so that we can fulfill Patriarch Sviatoslav’s call when he told Our Sunday Visitor:

…we have the right time in order to give the bread of life to those people who are hungry or thirsty for this spiritual dimension of human life. It’s why I proclaimed evangelization is our most important task.

In commenting on the UGCC synod of bishops’ recent Strategy for Development through 2020, the patriarch said, “The development of the parish community should be our priority. By fostering and reviving communities we foster and vivify the whole Church.” It is our hope that this website assists in doing so.

October 9th, 2011

Just What Is Eastern Catholicism?

Below you will find audio and video which answer the basic question of, “What is Eastern Catholicism?”

The above player has a series of videos from many sources. You can scroll through the videos on the gray bar in the bottom of the player or you can see the entire playlist on YouTube hereRead more…