At the Sobor: Day 5, Entry 2
September 4, 2015
The closing plenary session in the afternoon, turned out to involve a considerable amount of work. We had to approve each of the many resolutions that the delegates had proposed since the beginning of the Sobor. What made it easier to follow was that the resolutions were categorized under the six priorities of the Vibrant Parish. The six priorities of a vibrant parish are:
1. Holy Mysteries & Prayer;
2. The Word of God & Catechism;
3. Fostering and Serving Unity;
4. Serving Our Neighbors;
5. Missionary Spirit;
Some of the points were discussed, but most of the time was spent on proposing additional resolutions. If an additional resolution was presented, the plenary body of delegates would have to vote their majority approval to add the new resolution before the whole subcategory of resolutions could be voted upon. It really was a democratic and inclusive process, but it did take a lot of time. Occasionally, out of interest of speeding things up, someone would make a motion that we eliminate the addition of new proposals. As everyone was getting tired, such a motion would probably have mustered a majority vote. However, to the credit of the central committee and others – including His Beatitude Sviatoslav himself - such a motion was deemed incompatible with the statutes and the spirit of the Sobor. As tedious as the process was, everyone had the right to a voice.
I was happy to note that all the concerns and proposals that were raised throughout our Winnipeg Archeparchial Sobor were included in the general resolutions of this global Patriarchal Sobor! Probably, because, the concerns and hopes of the People of God around the world are similar at this time in the history of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
After the whole series of resolutions were voted upon, we turned our attention to the official letters or messages from our Sobor. There were three letters; one to Pope Francis, one to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, and one to the Ukrainian People as a whole. With a few changes, we approved the messages quite readily, as they were well drafted by the sub-committees that we had chosen earlier.
The resolutions and the messages can be read at: http://sobor-ugcc.org.ua
Well... After running almost two hours over time, the work was done. His Beatitude Sviatoslav declared the Sobor officially closed. Applause erupted. Not that we were glad that it was over, but because we had all just experienced and contributed toward a very satisfying and successful Sobor. We had concluded days; actually, many months, of intense and good work.
Our bishops now had a collection of resolutions and proposals and commitments that represented all the faithful - all their people - of the Ukrainian Catholic Church around the world.
What happened next was an unexpected joyful and historic celebration in the streets of Ivano-Frankivsk. We went outside the Sobor hall and gathered on the stairs of the Ivano-Frankivsk Provincial Theatre for Drama and Music for the big group picture. The citizens of the city were already out there waiting for us. But that was only the beginning. The delegates of the Sobor - apparently coming from 57 countries around the world - were asked to join the other delegates from their respective country when it was announced and their flag was brought forward.
Canada had a good number of delegates from our 5 eparchies. After we had lined up, a marching band led us through the streets of Ivano-Frankivsk all the way to Sheptytsky Square surrounding the cathedral church. As we went, the streets were lined by the people of the city that clapped and cheered as we walked by. They were thrilled that this international event was taking place in their city and they welcomed us with unbelievable warmth and joy!
That wasn't it... When we arrived in the square it too was filled with people waiting there to greet the delegates with the Father and Head of our Church - His Beatitude Sviatoslav at the lead. Blazhennishy Sviatoslav apologized that we kept the city waiting as he explained that the work of the Sobor held us back. The people didn't seem to care, but cheered in welcome to have him visit them with the huge number of representatives from all corners of the earth.
The occasion was the blessing of a new monument of the saintly Metropolitan, the Servant of God Andrej Sheptytsky. There were speeches and songs.
We still went to the Cathedral for vespers with Lithia, as the next day was the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God (Julian calendar).
The day ended with an amazing banquet back at the hotel that included local singers and musicians.
The Sobor was truly over.
However... There's more to come...
Watch this site for updates on the activity of the Winnipeg delegation to the 6th Session of the Patriarchal Sobor on "The Vibrant Parish - The Place to Encounter the Living Christ" in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. 24-28 August 2015.
Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski