Philadelphia, Pa., Jun 6, 2019 / 01:22 pm (CNA).- Bishop Borys Gudziak was enthroned Tuesday as Archbishop of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia, which heralded the arrival of the “new spiritual leader of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States.”
“I’ve come here very freely, no plan, no agenda. Just to open my heart to the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Gudziak said June 4 in a homily delivered in both Ukrainian and English.
Christ “goes to those on the margins. And that’s where we need to go as bishops, as priests, as Christians, not just me, friends. Not just these priests, these bishops, the sisters, but all of us. And that’s where we’re going to go.”
Gudziak, 58, a native of Syracuse, New York, succeeds Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Soroka,who resigned for health reasons in April 2018. Pope Francis announced Gudziak’s appointment in February.
“I’m very grateful to all of you for your prayer, for your presence, for your desire to help. I’m grateful for everything that as done in my life, through my parents, my teachers; so many spiritual guides,”
In the Eastern Catholic Churches, an eparchy is the equivalent of a diocese. In the United States, there are three suffragan eparchies in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church under the Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
The archeparchy announced before the enthronement that the liturgical procession would include 50 bishops from the Ukrainian and other Eastern Catholic, the Latin Catholic, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches, 125 priests, and 11 deacons. More than 70 religious were present, as well as more than 2,200 laity.
Archbishop Gudziak praised the witness of the many religious sisters in attendance.
“There’s nobody that is more free, nobody that has more courage, nobody that is more countercultural, nobody that is more nonconfirmist than a young woman who in the 21st century says ‘I pledge my whole life to God, and I promise poverty, chastity and obedience, in a time when everybody says ‘money, money, money, sex, sex, sex, and power.’ This is the kind of witness we have amongst us,” he said.
He also noted that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has suffered persecution, especially under the Soviet Union, but has endured.
“We’ve seen our Church, which was supposed to be dead – a totalitarian regime was trying to kill it, it had limitless resources, a nuclear arsenal, and this Church is alive. There are bishops here…that became a priest in the underground. What hope did he have that things could change?” Gudziak said.
“It just takes a few people that believe profoundly and are ready to give everything.”
Gudziak concluded saying: “I ask our faithful: pray every morning and every evening and go to Church on Sunday, it will change your life. Because the Lord is here not only on enthronization day.”
“This Cathedral is yours. Let’s fill it with our prayer, with our problems, with our agony. And let us be filled with hope. The hope, the faith, the love, that only the Lord can give, but once given we can share.”
Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Kyiv-Halyč, and Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, presided at the Divine Liturgy. Concelebrating bishops included Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.
Gudziak attended Syracuse University and then studied in Rome for a time, moving to Lviv, Ukraine in 1992 and was the vice rector and rector of the Lviv Theological Academy, and president of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. He was ordained a priest of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Lviv in 1998.
In 2012 he was appointed apostolic exarch of the Ukrainian Apostolic Exarchate of France, and consecrated a bishop. The following year, the exarchate was elevated to an eparchy; in addition to France, it serves Ukrainian Catholics in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.
The enthronement is to be the highlight of a week of celebrations in the archeparchy ending June 9.
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the largest of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, which each have unique cultural traditions and liturgical patrimony.
There are about 100,000 members of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church living in the United States. More than two thirds of this population lives within the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
The Metropolitan Archeparchy of Philadelphia includes the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania, and serves around 13,000 faithful in 62 parishes and two missions.
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