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U.S. Ukrainian Catholic Clergy Gather in Chicago for Clergy Conference

Priests align for communion at St. Joseph church.

Priests align for communion at St. Joseph church.

Chicago—Priests and deacons from all four eparchies of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States gathered here in the Windy City for a clergy conference Tuesday, October 20 through Friday, October 23. About 200 clergy were joined by Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka and Auxiliary Bishop John Bura of the Philadelphia Archeparchy, Bishop Paul Chomnycky, OSBM of the Stamford Eparchy and Bishop Bohdan Danylo of the St. Josaphat Eparchy of Parma. Bishop Richard Seminack of St. Nicholas Eparchy in Chicago, was unable to attend due to illness.

The clergy had begun arriving on Tuesday afternoon and went through the formalities of registration. Tuesday evening Very Rev. Basil Salkovski, OSBM from the St. Nicholas Eparchy of Chicago began the conference with an opening prayer followed by words of welcome and introductions by Metropolitan Soroka.

On Wednesday, Very Rev. Ihor Midzak from the Eparchy of Stamford led the morning prayer service. The topic of the first session of the day was “Characteristics of the Evangelizing Priest,” given by Rev. Anthony F. Krisak, Affiliate Professor of Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, Md. Father Krisak’s second presentation was entitled “The Evangelizing Parish, Moving from Maintenance Mission.”

The third session Wednesday afternoon was entitled, “Reflections and Sharing by Participants.” Here the clergy gathered into small groups to discuss and offer insights into the two morning topics. Father Krisak served as moderator, calling on a priest from each group to share their discussions and insights.

Following the conclusion of the first business day, clergy were bussed to St. Joseph’s Ukrainian Catholic Church for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Metropolitan Soroka was the main celebrant and delivered the homily. Bishop Chomnycky, OSBM, Bishop Danylo and Bishop Bura were the concelebrants along with clergy.

In his homily, Metropolitan Stefan reflected, “These precious days of gathering are a precious
gift for each of us. I am thankful that most of our Ukrainian Catholic clergy in the USA have come to participate and to celebrate this gift. It is a time for us to slow down and to reflect on ourselves as individuals, as persons entrusted with leadership in parishes and eparchies. Do our actions reflect immense gratitude to almighty God? How do we celebrate gratitude? Do our actions reflect a deep sense of love for God? Is pleasing the Lord of primary importance in whatever we say and do? Are we who we
perceive ourselves to be – in the eyes of God? In the eyes of those whom we dare to serve?”

A dinner in St. Joseph parish hall followed. Bishop Basil Losten, bishop emeritus of the Stamford Eparchy
provided a brief history of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States, interspersed with
his personal insights and experiences.

Ukrainian and American instrumental music provided some easy listening as the clergy shared a meal and U.S. Ukrainian Catholic Clergy Gather in Chicago for Clergy Conference fellowship. The Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation (УКУ) presented a short video on the Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Ukraine.

Thursday, October 22, the morning prayer service was led by Very Rev. George Appleyard from St. Josaphat Eparchy in Parma, Ohio. The fourth session of the clergy conference was entitled, “Dynamics of Pastoral Care Today for Engaged and Married Couples,” given by Valerie H Conzett, D.Min., L.P.C.,, Director of Family Life Office, Archdiocese of Omaha; Executive Director of FOCCUS, Inc., USA.

After a brief refreshments break, the clergy reassembled to begin the fifth session, entitled “Practical Aspects of Marriage Preparation,” once again led by Valerie Conzett.

Following lunch, the clergy visited the predominantly Ukrainian section of Chicago known as “Ukrainian Village.” The first stop was a visit to St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral School. The elementary
school children were most welcoming led by their instructors to provide a short program including the singing some religious and folk songs in both Ukrainian and English languages.

The school children presented a sunflower to each guest bishop. Metropolitan Stefan thanked the children
and faculty for the warm welcome.

A visit to Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church followed. The pastor welcomed the clergy and gave a brief description of the church interior with many icons and a beautiful woodencarved iconostasis. The clergy then visited the nearby Ukrainian National Museum to view many artifacts, including a special exhibit honoring the Servant of God, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky. Many of the
museum’s historical items were from Ukraine.

The clergy then visited St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, the final stop of the visit to “Ukrainian Village.” At the Cathedral they were greeted and given a tour and explanation
of the Cathedral parish and the church interior.

Once again there were many beautiful icons of Our Lord, the Mother of God, and various saints. The main celebrant of the Divine Liturgy was Bishop Danylo. Metropolitan Soroka and Bishop John concelebrated. Bishop Bura was also the homilist.

Following the Divine Liturgy, dinner was served at Saints Volodymyr and Olha’s Parish Hall, while some background Ukrainian and American instrumental music was provided.

Friday, October 23 Very Rev. Robert Hitchens from the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia led the clergy in morning prayer. The sixth and final session entitled, “Round Table Discussion with
Hierarchs on Conference Themes.” There was also a brief presentation on the Sobor and Synod discussions held in August and early September in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine.

Metropolitan Soroka led a session where the clergy shared comments and observations on the conference and the needs of our Ukrainian Catholic Church. He concluded the conference by thanking all the clergy for their attendance and participation and by 11:00 a.m., all were on their journey home to their respective eparchies and parishes.

– Article by “The Way”