HIS BEATITUDE OPENS 2016 VIBRANT PARISH CONFERENCE, UKRAINE
November 28, 2016
2016 VIBRANT PARISH COORDINATORS CONFERENCE-WORKSHOP BEGINS
In the historic village of Knyazhychi just outside the Ukrainian Capital city of Kyiv, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav opened the international conference on the Vibrant Parish by delivering the keynote address at the first session. He spoke of the extraordinary Patriarchal Sobor that took place in 2015 at the city of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, that tackled the theme of “The Vibrant Parish – A Place to Encounter the Living Christ”. He described the Sobor as a type of evaluation of the Vibrant Parish movement that he initiated with his Pastoral Letter of the same name. He said that is was even akin to an “examination of conscience” if we are understanding the necessity and urgency of implementing the Vibrant Parish ‘priorities’ laid out in his pastoral letter and championed by the working group established and supported by the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s Synod of Bishops. He was happy to observe that the first fruits are already visible. The simple fact that the movement is no longer an abstract idea but has become part of the everyday life of our Church. His Beatitude also spoke of the theme taken up by the last meeting of the Synod of Bishops – Diakonia – i.e. the whole question of the social ministry of the Church. This will be the focus of the Vibrant Parish in this present liturgical year. Next year’s synod will look at the liturgical life of the our Church. How do we pray. What does our prayer life look like? How should it look? He invited those gathered to find time to discuss this during the conference, but also in all eparchies in the year ahead and to share observations and hopes with the bishops.
The intention of His Beatitude was to fully participate in this Vibrant Parish conference, but it is an active time for him with a number of other events in which he needs to participate. Among the many, he mentioned events commemorating the 25th anniversary of the December 1st, 1991 referendum by which Ukrainians overwhelmingly (90.4%) voted for independence from Moscow and the Soviet Union… the opening of a new Kyiv branch of the Ukrainian Catholic University and a major fundraising event for UCU, as well a Catholic awards ceremony recognizing the contribution society of medical professionals in the city of Dnipro. He did promise to return and meet again on the closing day for the Divine Liturgy, closing session and dinner toward the end of the week.
SECOND ALL-CHURCH GATHERING OF COORDINATORS
Among requisite opening-night talks was an introduction of all Coordinators and other guests that gathered for the conference. It was a welcome exercise as there were not only a number of guest speakers in attendance, but some new coordinators among this year’s attendees. Not all coordinators were to attend, but happily all eparchies of Canada are represented. Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski is attending from the Archeparchy of Winnipeg. The largest number are from Ukraine of course, but it is also an interesting observation that a good number of coordinators from other countries are priests born in Ukraine.
The Vibrant Parish Coordinators have gathered from every eparchy and exarchate of the Ukrainian Catholic Church for what has become an annual meeting of all representatives. Up until last year, the Coordinators met in three separate regional conferences – English-speaking countries, Europe & Latin America and Ukraine & Eastern Europe. Last year, however, all coordinators met together at the Shrine of the famous Marian apparitions in Fatima, Portugal. This joint meeting proved so beneficial that the 2016 meeting was organized for Knyazhychi, Ukraine. In this small town, only 25 kilometers from the heart of Kyiv, some historical sources say the Grand Prince Volodymyr Monomakh resided at one time. Today, it is home to the former head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar as well as the Seminary for the Kyiv Archeparchy, named after the “Three Holy Hierarchs” (St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory of Nazianzus). The actual location of the conference is a very practical (and quite nice) Prince's Court Hotel and Conference Centre across town from the Seminary.
DAILY INVOCATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The organizers of the conference arranged for a daily Divine Liturgy in the mornings and vespers in the evening. Also in the morning before the discussion session, there is a Lectio Divina during which all coordinators, albeit divided into workable groups, spend time in reading, discussing and sharing insights about a passage from Sacred Scripture.
The Rector of the Seminary, Archpriest Fr. Peter Zhuk, was chosen as the homilist throughout the conference, meaning that he gives sermon or at least a reflection at every Divine Liturgy and Vespers. The Seminarians were asked to lead the singing also for all services. With a such a well-prepared group of singers, the liturgies are simply a pleasure for everyone.
See the 'Living TV' (ZhyveTV) Report on the opening day of Conference
Watch the Full address of His Beatitude Sviatoslav here: