VIBRANT PARISH CONFERENCE ENDS IN UKRAINE
December 8, 2016
VIBRANT PARISH CONFERENCE ENDS WITH WHIRLWIND DAY
The last day of the Vibrant Parish coordinators meeting was quite intense as there was a much sharing of a lot of information for coordinators to take with them, but it also involved opportunities for feedback and planning for next steps. His Beatitude Sviatoslav, as promised, arrived later in the morning to participate in the session. He encouraged a dialogue during which coordinators could share with him their experiences in their own eparchies as to the successes and the areas where change would be beneficial.
It would be too much to go into detail, but among the ideas shared, most agreed that the Vibrant Parish movement did, in fact, increase the consciousness of the faithful that they are members of a global Church. They had much to benefit from the experiences of other faithful around the world and each had something to offer the rest of the Church as well. Also, it was mentioned that many parishioners also developed a better appreciation of the needs of all parishes within their own eparchy and how they could help each other.
The new priority that the parishes of the Church will work on developing in the coming year is the concept of “diakonia”, i.e. serving ones neighbour… especially those in greatest need. Within the parish community and also beyond into the wider community.
At the close of the day – and of the conference – His Beatitude imparted his blessing to all the coordinators and even blessed the premises where the conference took place as the proprietors requested this gesture.
Also happening in Kyiv in those days was the opening of the Kyiv Centre of the Ukrainian Catholic University (*video of lecture given below). Some Vibrant Parish participants were able to participate in the opening ceremonies and the large fundraising event held at the city’s Fairmont Hotel. On Sunday, at the Cathedral of the Resurrection, His Beatitude Sviatoslav ordained seven young men to ministry in the Church, some to the diaconate and some to the priesthood.
The experience was truly inspiring and will, God willing, prove helpful in every one of the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s parishes around the world. Yet while in Ukraine there was an certain surreal element that was always present…. while Church and society tried to move with essential programs and efforts, there was “war”….. the war in the eastern part of the country where soldiers are wounded and killed almost every single day. The occupation/annexation of the Crimean peninsula becomes more fixed in the minds of the population every day. The western media has all but become silent about the ongoing tragedy. The dramatic bombings of Syrian towns has overshadowed the daily shelling of Ukrainian towns. How will it all end? When will the killing at least stop? God, have mercy on Your people. As we groan about long line-ups at the mall as we wait to buy some gift that may be appreciated on Christmas morning, but will soon be forgotten, let us remember the millions (yes, millions) of people suffering in Ukraine in devastated areas or as refugees in the western provinces.
Maybe our first “diakonia” on the parish level can begin with a spiritual offering of our thoughts and especially our prayers for our brave brothers and sisters that fought for hope and freedom in the “revolution for dignity” almost two years ago, but are now growing so weary of a conflict that is once again wearing at their souls.
*Lecture at new UCU Centre in Kyiv...