December 9, 2017


Sister Valentyna Riabushko, from the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent, gave an excellent presentation on women religious within the Church. She first provided some very sobering statistics as to trends in the number of men and women religious (monks and Sisters) over the last 10 years. As everywhere in the Church, of course, the numbers were shown to have been less than a number of years ago. But she went on to tackle some of the reasons for this. Among the factors, she suggested that the encouragement for vocations on the part of the hierarchy, clergy and others needs to get back on track and needs to become a priority. She even cited examples of how some clergy, perhaps in the interest of being "honest" in their opinion, simply end up turning people off from a calling to the religious life. She called upon those present to do some soul searching and see if the solution to increasing vocations to the religious life and priesthood is not more attainable than we presently imagine. Invite. Encourage. Support.

Sister Luisa Ciupa, SSMI, the well-known head of the Patriarchal Commission on Catechesis, gave a full update on the ongoing development of catechetical programs and materials. There is a lot of excellent materials for children, teens and adults of all ages. The challenge - (which would only require just a bit of investment and/or volunteer work) - is that it needs to be translated into the languages of the Church outside of Ukraine and made available in a useable format.

Father Vitalij Tokar, a canon law expert - especially in the area of ecclesial organization - made a presentation on the present state of eparchial structures of governance. He encouraged all coordinators to, in turn, encourage all eparchies to develop at least the minimal amount of offices so the local church could operate according to the norms of Church law. Many eparchies - including the Archeparchy of Winnipeg - have structures in place that go well beyond the basic configuration. However, it was surprising to learn that for various reasons, some eparchies or exarchates - especially the newer ones - were still building the essential model for a properly functioning eparchial government.

Father Petro Rak gave the Coordinators an overview of the calendar of activities of the highest governing body of the Ukrainian Catholic Church - the ‘Patriarchal Curia'. He showed the many projects and publications - both accomplished and now underway. He also spoke about the basic calendar of events and goals that the Curia has for the 2018 ecclesial year. Some examples were given as to how some eparchies coordinate the life and activity of the local eparchy with the goals of the Synod of Bishops and the whole Church. A clergy conference is held within a month the completion of the annual September Synod of Bishops at which the local bishop, together with his eparchial curia and his clergy make a pastoral plan that includes the goals for the whole eparchy.

A number of other key presentations were made and discussions were held that will be reported on this website in the future. The Coordinators are to report back to their local Bishop and hold meetings with the eparchial curial staff and the entire presbyterate of the eparchy. The local Bishops will then suggest the most appropriate plan of action for each eparchy or exarchate.

It is likely that the next Coordinators meeting will take place somewhere in Ukraine toward the end of 2018. One suggestion was made to hold the meeting perhaps in the southern or eastern regions of the country to offer moral and spiritual support to the faithful ravaged in those areas by the ongoing war and Russian occupation.

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