The worldwide head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) will be in Yorkton Friday and Saturday.
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Sevchuk is currently in Saskatoon and will travel to a speaking engagement in Sainte-Adele, Quebec September 24 where he will address the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
But first, a whirlwind 16-hour stopover in Yorkton September 21 and 22 where he will lead a prayer service at St. Mary’s Catholic Church Friday evening and attend a breakfast event at Sacred Heart High School Saturday morning.
“It is a great honour to have him visit our small community,” said Father Ray Lukie, St. Mary’s parish priest. “It is really a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
Sevchuk began his Canadian visit in Vancouver on August 31 before heading to Winnipeg to lead the annual synod of Ukrainian Catholic bishops from September 9 to 16.
The major archbishop, referred to as His Beatitude Patriarch Sviatoslav Sevchuk by the Ukrainian church, said the synod would “fill all our Canadian community with the special blessing of the Holy Spirit, blowing the fresh wind of this Spirit into the sails of the Ukrainian church in this country.”
The bishops decided to hold the 2012 synod in Winnipeg to honour the 100th anniversary of the arrival in Canada of Bishop Nykyta Budka (now Blessed Nykyta following his beatification in 2001 by Pope John Paul II) who laid the groundwork for uniting Canadian-Ukrainian Catholics.
In terms of the hierarchy of the Universal Catholic Church, major archbishop is second only to the pope. Sevchuk, at 42 years of age, is one of the youngest bishops in the world and was confirmed as major archbishop by Pope Benedict XVI in March 2011.
Certain eastern churches maintain more or less autonomous status from Rome. In the eyes of the Vatican, there are two tiers of these “particular churches,” patriarchal churches and major archiepiscopal churches of which the UGCC is the latter. The former is largely regarded as being more prestigious, but there is much debate as to whether the argument is semantic since both are self-governing.
Nevertheless, Sevchuk has repeatedly said that he is going to continue to grow the UGCC toward the goal of becoming a patriarchate.