Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 16, 2006
Ukrainian bishop moves to Connecticut
Former Edmonton priest to leave U.K.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"I see new faces in the cathedral all the time and every Sunday the cathedral is filled."
- Bishop Paul Chomnyckye
"I would say some of my most interesting experiences are exactly with these immigrants from Ukraine because they tend to be very pious, very filled with faith and I think we are doing them a great service because they find themselves in a foreign country, most of them are here illegally, and so they really find the Church like an anchor for them," Chomnycky said.
"It's something that reminds them of home and certainly when they find themselves in these difficulties, where they can be picked up and deported at any time, their faith is very important and they find strength in their faith and in the Church community."
The concept of parish among Ukrainian Catholics in Britain is different than in Canada where there is an established membership. "Here we have a very loose arrangement," the bishop noted.
"The only thing I can tell you is that I see new faces in the cathedral all the time and that every Sunday the cathedral is filled. And for our big religious holidays such as Christmas, we would have anywhere between 4,000 and 5,000 people in the cathedral into the street."
Sometimes the police have to close off the street in front of the cathedral because of the large number of people standing outside. "We have had to hang loudspeakers in front of the cathedral and broadcast the service out into street because the cathedral isn't large enough to hold all the people."
Driving a car is another experience Chomnycky won't forget. "I learned to drive on the wrong side of the road and now I have to get used to the other way again," he laughed.
Chomnycky's constituency in Stamford will be much more stable than in Great Britain. "They are the descendants of Ukrainian immigrants to the United States over 100 years ago and of course also of the immigration after the Second World War," he noted. "There is also a very significant immigration in the last 10 years or so, but most of these people are living in the United States legally."
Is Chomnycky looking forward to moving closer to home? "In a sense I'm looking forward to being closer to home, which is of course Alberta and Vancouver, but in another sense it's moving me further away from Ukraine, which is the homeland of our Church," he lamented.
"Like in the (almost) four years that I've lived in England, I've visited Ukraine quite often because it's so close and so easy to get to. Now in North America this will become a longer journey and a more expensive journey. And of course living in Europe, you are closer to all the important centres of Europe as well, including Rome, which I also visited several times."
Chomnycky hopes he will stay in Stamford for a long time. "We can't tell the future, but I expect that I'll be in Stamford for some time, God willing."
The Stamford Eparchy has more than 16,000 Ukrainian Catholics in 55 parishes served by 42 priests, 78 religious and nine permanent deacons. The British Eparchy has a transient population of about 15,000 Catholics in 30 communities in England, Wales and Scotland served by 15 priests.
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