June 6, 2018


From May 7-25 2018, Alex Pankiw, a seminarian for the Archeparchy of Winnipeg, studied Ukrainian Language and Culture at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine. Not only did his time in Lviv serve as an opportunity to expand upon his Ukrainian language abilities, but also provided a rich opportunity to learn more about our Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine.

His courses at Ukrainian Catholic University were intensive, spending three hours in the morning speaking, reading, and writing in Ukrainian, followed by another hour of one-on-one tutoring to refine skills learned. In the afternoon, students were given an opportunity to explore the many sights of downtown Lviv. Some tourist sites included Market Square, High Castle, the Garrison Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, St. George's Cathedral, the Armenian Church, and the Lviv Opera House on Svobody Avenue.

Another highlight included a day trip to the Basilian Monastery in Zhovkva, Ukraine. Being afforded this opportunity by the newly ordained Deacon Andriy Malysh of the Eparchy of New Westminster was a great pleasure. Like the churches in Lviv, the Monastery was open to the faithful in Zhovkva and the church was filled for Vespers.

Similarly, Alex was given a tour of Holy Spirit Ukrainian Greek Catholic Seminary in Lviv, Ukraine. It was a phenomenal experience to learn about the formation in the Lviv seminary, as well as engage in a discussion about some of the seminarians' vocation stories. Lastly, Alex was invited to pray Vespers with the seminarians, and join them for a meal. Being witness to over 200 seminarians praying Vespers was truly inspiring.

At the conclusion of his trip, Alex took a night train to Kyiv where he shared a sleeper car with 3 Ukrainian soldiers. While conversation was limited, it gave witness to the fact that war is still occurring in Eastern Ukraine, and Ukraine remains in much need of our prayers.

Upon his arrival in Kyiv, Alex stayed at the Three Holy Hierarchs Kyiv Theological Seminary. Much to his surprise, His Beatitude Patriarch Sviatoslav was expected to arrive several hours later to bless a plaque dedicated to the memory of +Patriarch Lubomyr Husar, and pray Vespers with the seminarians. Upon His Beatitude's arrival, a select few seminarians lead the singing for the brief service to bless the plaque. Shortly after, Vespers began with a beautifully sung "Царю Небесний». At the conclusion of Vespers, seminarians and their families approached for the blessing with holy oil and to take a piece of the Lytia bread. It was a beautiful and prayerful opportunity to encounter the Holy Spirit before Pentecost. Prior to His Beatitude's departure, Alex had an opportunity to have a brief discussion with His Beatitude, and receive His blessing.

While three weeks in Ukraine went by far too fast, it was a tremendous blessing for Alex to have had the opportunity to be in Ukraine and grow in his vocational discernment and priestly formation. Without the continual support of the faithful of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg, none of these opportunities would have been made possible. Because of this, he wishes "to express my deepest thanks, and wish to assure you of my continued prayers for the faithful of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg".

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