Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 2, 2008
Ukrainian Catholics urged to take up call to evangelize
Stress is put on adult catechesis, music, liturgy, culture, the arts
By RAMON GONZALEZ
“We need to renew our understanding of how to be a hospitable Church in the year 2008.”
- Archbishop Huculak
Specifically, Motiuk said, the Church is trying to “re-catechize and re-evangelize all of its faithful,” from those who are present in the churches to those who have been received into the Church through marriage to those who have fallen away. The bishop hopes the conference will lead the Church to develop “a catechetical program from the cradle to grave” in order to fulfill more effectively its evangelizing mission.
Several experts on the fields of evangelization and catechesis led workshops at the conference. Some presented evangelization programs or approaches that have been successful both in Canada and the United States.
“It’s an obligation of the Church to pass on the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Revelation of God, to the world; that’s our job,” said Bishop Paul Chomnycky, the Eparch of Stamford, CT. “As times change, our church in Canada (and in North America) specifically has to explore how to more efficiently pass out our faith.”
One specific problem that exists in the diaspora in North America that does not exist in Ukraine is the problem of assimilation and mixed-marriages, Chomnycky pointed out. “The question is how do we keep our people (attending) a Ukrainian church; how do we keep our self-identity in a foreign country, in a country where our people have been for four or five and six generations?”
Perhaps the answer, the bishop said, is to accent what is particular about the Ukrainian Catholic Church—its liturgical and cultural traditions—in order to persuade more people of Ukrainian descent to be part of it.
Chomnycky also noted there are still many economic immigrants coming to North America from Ukraine. “Even if they are here for a short time we have to reach them so they don’t become lost in the world.”
Winnipeg Archbishop Lawrence Huculak, who is metropolitan of all 250,000 Ukrainian Catholics in Canada, said the conference is an outcome of an international Ukrainian Catholic synod of bishops held years ago.
“We have a mandate by Jesus Christ to evangelize all the nations of the world. We would use our gifts as Ukrainian Catholics—our music, our liturgy, the culture, the arts—to spread the Gospel message.”
But to evangelize effectively the Church will have to develop a program for adult catechesis, Huculak said. “We do not have a text for adult catechesis. The Roman Catholic Church has the RCIA program. We have formed a national catechetical commission for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada (which is currently working on a text for adult catechesis).”
Certainly language is an issue for Ukrainian Catholics, but parishes are slowly adapting.
Mixed-marriages are also an issue because “often times people if they are mixed Roman Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic many of them say ‘well then we are going to go to the Roman Catholic Church,’” Huculak noted.
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Sr. Anne Laszok, left, and Iryna Galadza presented an intergenerational faith formation process that is parish-based.
“We must recognize that we have to reach out and one of the themes I feel strongly about is we have to be a hospitable Church; a Church that reaches out to welcome people who are not in it and these can be the ones in mixed-marriages or the ones who don’t go to church much,” Huculak said. “In reality I think we need to renew our understanding of how to be a hospitable Church in the year 2008.”
Added the metropolitan: “My hope is that through this conference we would recognize the work of the Holy Spirit with us, discerning us, pointing us in some specific concrete directions or programs for evangelization through catechesis.”
Sister Anne Laszok, a Sister of St. Basil the Great from Pittsburgh, and Iryna Galadza, a catechist and wife of a priest from Brampton, Ont. came to the conference to present an evangelization program called Generations of Faith for Byzantine Churches, an intergenerational faith formation process that is parish-based and was developed for both Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox churches.
“The program is intergenerational which means the whole parish gets together to learn about the Eastern tradition,” Laszok said. “This program aims to teach our people about whole liturgical life, the mystery of the sacraments and the whole liturgical life of the Church because many people attend Church but don’t understand why we have the different feasts or what happens during Sacraments or mysteries.”
Galadza, who has been doing formation with her husband, Father Roman, for 32 years, noted the religious education of many adults stops at Grade 2 with First Confession/Communion. Some go up to Grade 8, “but most adults don’t have the catechesis that they should have,” Galadza lamented. “They need to grow in their faith and today in the information age people want to know more and we have to give it to them if we are going to hang on to them.”
Added Galadza: “I think we have to pay more attention to adult catechesis because if we can catechize the adults, they will catechize their children and then we have the strengthening of the domestic Church.”
Laszok agreed. “With this program—Generations of Faith for Byzantine Churches—we are targeting the whole parish. The whole parish comes together and becomes a learning community.”
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