By Lou Baldwin
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — If we, as the people of God, “come together and open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, we will see miracles,” Metropolitan-Archbishop Boris Gudziak, the new head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States.
He made the comments during the June 4 hierarchical Divine Liturgy and enthronement ceremony officially installing him as the seventh metropolitan-archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, succeeding Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka, who resigned for health reasons in April 2018.
Philadelphia’s spacious Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was filled to capacity for the Divine Liturgy and enthronement, with an overflow crowd of approximately 2,500 participating through television screens outside.
A liturgical procession into the cathedral ahead of the Divine Liturgy included bishops from the Ukrainian Catholic Church, other Eastern Catholic churches, the Latin Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as 125 priests, 11 deacons and 70 members of religious orders.
Presiding at the liturgy were Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine, patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States, who read greetings from Pope Francis and presented the papal bull confirming the appointment of Archbishop Gudziak.
Also among the 50 bishops in attendance were Archbishop Soroka, Cardinals Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia.
The Divine Liturgy and enthronement was the centerpiece of a weeklong celebration that began June 2. Participants included clergy, religious and lay faithful and young people from the Philadelphia archeparchy and other U.S. and international eparchies.
The overall theme was “From Heart to Heart,” which Archbishop Gudziak has adopted for his administration. During his years of ministry he has shown a special regard for persons with disabilities. He underscored this during his remarks at the Divine Liturgy by asking that a young woman with severe disabilities be wheeled forward.
“Jesus goes to the margins and that is where we should be,” he told the congregation. “That is where we are going, but we need to go together.”
He also called forward a young religious sister who had just recently taken her vows.
“Nobody is more countercultural as a young woman in the 21st century who says, ‘I pledge my whole life to God’ at time when others say ‘money, money, money,” he commented.
The Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide is the largest of the Eastern Catholic churches that have distinctly different liturgies than the Latin Catholic Church but are nevertheless in full communion with Rome.
The Philadelphia archeparchy — akin to an archdiocese — also includes the eparchies of Stamford, Connecticut; St. Nicholas in Chicago; and St. Josaphat in Parma, Ohio.
Archbishop Gudziak, 58, was born in Syracuse, New York, the son of immigrant parents from Ukraine. He is a graduate of the University of Syracuse and holds a doctorate in Slavic and cultural history from Harvard.
In Ukraine, where he spent two decades, he directed the Lviv Theological Academy and saw it grow into a university. He was ordained a priest in 1998 and a bishop in 2012 and named to head of the Paris-based Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great, which covers France, Benelux (a union of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) and Switzerland.
His appointment to head the Philadelphia archeparchy by Pope Francis was announced Feb. 18 following the recommendation of a synod of Ukrainian Catholic bishops in September 2018.
Among those visiting Philadelphia from Ukraine for Archbishop Gudziak’s enthronement was Lilya Kovalik, who worked in the same building with him when he was rector at the Ukrainian Catholic University.
“When he came to Ukraine, he was a historian,” she said. “He was an intelligent and a strong man and very devoted to the church. Many people knew him for his charity and when he was rector at the university, he never took a salary, he donated it back. He was held in such high esteem, all of the students wanted to go there; it has such a high rating for excellence.”
After the Divine Liturgy and enthronement ceremony, there was a buffet meal outside to feed the multitude. Not loaves and fishes but Ukrainian favorites with a touch of Philadelphia — steak sandwiches and soft pretzels — welcomed by all after the long liturgy, with the dignitaries mingling with the laity.
Diane Berkheiser, who came down on a bus from St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church in Frackville, Pennsylvania, is third-generation Ukrainian in America. She was impressed by the openness of her new metropolitan-archbishop. “He seemed so generous and sincere and really humble when he spoke,” she told CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Nicholas Spotts, also down from Frackville, thought the ceremony was awesome, and he was impressed by the enthusiasm of his new archbishop. “I think he has great ideas and he seems so heartfelt and prayerful. Everyone is excited about this.”
Other events in the weeklong ceremony celebrating the enthronement of the new metropolitan-archbishop included a daylong program on the Ukrainian Catholic Church June 6 at The Catholic University of America in Washington.