Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration

УКРАЇНСЬКA КАТОЛИЦЬКA ЦЕРКВА ПРЕОБРАЖЕННЯ ГОСПОДНЬОГО


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Welcoming Bishop Bryan, 4th Bishop of Toronto and Eastern Canada

On Monday, June 27, 2022 our Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada (http://www.ucet.ca/) will be celebrating the official installation of the Most Reverend Bishop Bryan Joseph Bayda, CSsR, as our 4th Eparch. Bishop Bryan was nominated by Pope Francis at the request of our Synod of Bishops. His Grace Lawrence Huculak, Metropolitan Archbishop of Winnipeg will preside over the ceremony. Metropolitan Borys Gudziak of Philadelphia, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, the Most Rev. Ivan Jurkovic, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, all the active Ukrainian Catholic bishops in North America, many Eastern and Roman Catholic bishops from Canada and the United States, as well as the Consul General of Ukraine, Mr. Oleksandr Shevchenko will attend.

Because of the escalation of russia’s war against Ukraine His Beatitude Patriarch Sviatoslav, Primate of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church is unable to attend. He and many bishops from Ukraine have sent their greetings and congratulations.

 Who is Bishop Bryan?

Bryan Bayda was born in 1961 in Saskatoon, SK, the third of six children. Although he grew up in Saskatoon, like many young people in Saskatchewan, he spent summers and weekends helping out on his family farm. He attended and completed St. Vladimir’s College Minor Seminary in Roblin, MB and acquired his BA (1982) and M.Div. (1987) at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. He professed perpetual vows in 1986 with the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Ukrainian Redemptorists, Yorkton Province), was ordained to the priesthood in 1987 and to the episcopate in 2008. From 2008 Bishop Bryan Bayda served as Bishop of Saskatoon. He was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada in November 2019, following the resignation of Bishop Stephen Chmilar. He has served on a number of commissions of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, was the Youth Liaison of our Synod and represented our Synod at the 2018 Papal Synod on youth. He loves music, composes his own songs, and plays the guitar. He has a wonderful sense of humour!


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“Patriarch of the UGCC: the reasons for this war lie in Russia itself and its very essence”

People who think that Russia’s aggression was provoked by an external cause are held captive by Kremlin propaganda or they deliberately deceive others. We in Ukraine are well aware of why Russia attacked us.

The Patriarch of the UGCC said this in his video message on the 112th day of the war.

“The gift of the Holy Spirit–discernment (good sense)–is imperative for one trying to understand the causes and consequences of this full-scale Russian aggression. Today, we see that throughout the entire world, desired falsehoods rather than reality are promoted. We see and know, having experienced firsthand here in Ukraine, that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is unprovoked. Anyone who thinks that some external reason provoked Russia to military aggression is either brainwashed by Kremlin propaganda or deliberately deceiving the world.”

The head of the UGCC emphasized that post-Soviet revanchism has emerged in the guise of extreme Russian nationalism, in the ideology of the “Russian World” and garnered a distinct genocidal ethos.

“Ukraine is its first victim. That is why it is critical to understand the causes and consequences of this war. Unfortunately, the reasons for this war lie in Russia itself, in its very being. The Russian aggressor aims to solve its internal problems with the help of external aggression, projects its diseases on others and blames the whole world for them,” he stressed.

“Therefore, today we pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit for politicians, diplomats, and church religious figures so that the Lord God will give them this gift of reason, the ability to distinguish causes and consequences, the ability to see the depth of reality and distinguish truth from fabricated lies and falsehoods,” the UGCC Patriarch added.

As reported, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church stated that Russia “never attacked anyone.”

(https://risu.ua/patriarh-ugkc-prichini-ciyeyi-vijni-lezhat-u-samij-rosiyi-yiyi-suti_n130167)


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“The breath of the Spirit brings out the sacramentality of nature and bestows on it the fragrance of resurrection” John Chryssavgis

Zeleni sviata literally translates into Green holy days. This is what we call Pentecost when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Disciples. On this Sunday our entire Church commemorates the dead, visiting cemeteries and singing panachydy. Does it seem paradoxical? Green is the colour of new life, hope, growth, and care for the natural environment. Underlying these dynamic attributes is Love. Divine Love generates this flood of greenery and gives us fresh oxygen for life. We decorate our homes and churches with boughs of greenery to symbolize our shared spirit with each other in our communities, with nature, and yes—even with those who have joined the angels. Monday is the second Green holy day: the feast of the Trinity.

  On these days we renew the vows we made through our Godparents at our baptism! When we were anointed we received (sacramentally) the Holy Spirit. From that moment on, like the apostles, we acknowledged God in us. We were infants, but our family and our community vowed to bring the Spirit to life in us. We are one in the Spirit of God. We are one in Christ. Each of us has the flame of the Spirit in our souls; each of us is given this gift of God’s Love. But we must fan the flame into fire. How? Through loving. By practicing love, we learn to love and to be loved. That’s why our parish community is so important. Together we emulate the Trinity, forever reaching out to others, embracing others and supporting each other in living a life of love. Love begets love only when one is open to consciously trying to be loving: we try and perhaps daily or even hourly we fail, but with the Spirit we try again and again, rejoicing in the goodness we can see and feel with our renewed attempts. When we ignore the Spirit in us, when we deny its presence and stifle its flame, we open ourselves to greed, selfishness, distrust and even hatred. This stifling of the Holy Spirit brings war and oppression.

  We are so blessed to have each other, here in our church of the Transfiguration of our Lord. Each person’s kindness, welcome, and generosity continues to nourish the Trinitarian flame. Just as the apostles marveled that they could share the Good News of Christ with those who spoke various languages, so too we can be glad of our bilingual community: praying together and sharing the Eucharist, whether we speak English or Ukrainian. As community we grow in compassion and delight in opportunities of service, whether it is to clean the church grounds or take volunteer to visit a parishioner who is unwell. These Zeleni Sviata, we pray together for the Holy Spirit to rekindle the flames of our collective energy, so that together we may grow in courage, strength and joy, bringing the love and peace of Christ to all who join us. 


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Through our solidarity with each other we make present the Risen Christ.

“At times, by over-emphasizing our efforts to do good works, we have created an ideal of holiness excessively based on ourselves, our personal heroics, our capacity for renunciation, our readiness for self-sacrifice to achieve a reward… We have turned holiness into an unattainable goal. We have separated it from everyday life, instead of looking for it and embracing it in our daily routines, in the dust of the streets, in the trials of real life… Being disciples of Jesus and advancing on the path of holiness means first and foremost letting ourselves be transfigured by the power of God’s love. Let us never forget the primacy of God over self, of the Spirit over the flesh, of grace over works. For we at times give more importance to self, flesh and works.”            Pope Francis

  With Ascension Thursday, the Easter cycle ends. We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and our greeting of awe that “Christ is Risen” turns to praise: “Glory to Jesus Christ”! Perhaps now, because of russia’s invasion, we may hear “Glory to Ukraine” more often than to Jesus. And the two greetings are related.

  Imagine the longing the disciples would have felt after seeing their Risen Lord leave. The fear, and emptiness would only be assuaged by staying within their community, with their loved ones. Only once they are filled with the Holy Spirit—God’s Spirit—can they carry Christ’s love and joy into the world. Only with the Spirit can they live as Jesus taught, see others as He saw them. Only with the Spirit could they recognize Him in each other and no longer mourn, but rather rejoice in what they had from Him. Thus, they were able to spread His Spirit and grow in strength and faith just as their community grew as well. “Glory to Jesus Christ”!

  Today, we, as a Ukrainian Catholic community, support each other in growing in the strength of God’s love. Our Christian greeting: Glory to Jesus Christ reminds us of our commitment to each other and the joy and gratitude that flow from belonging, connection, support. “Glory to Ukraine” with its response Glory to our (courageous) heroes, in the same way connects us to each other and to the sacrifice of countless people who lost their lives in order for us to grow in our Ukrainian community. Through our solidarity with each other we make present the Risen Christ. Through Christ we grow in love for others, keeping the memory of our “heroes” alive in us, giving us the courage to reach out to each other—here in our church community—and beyond, seeing everyone as our sisters and brothers whether they are in KW or Ukraine.  

  The Covid pandemic has made it much harder to connect with each other here at our church. But this Sunday, for the first time in 2 years, we are having our Parish General Meeting in person. For a few Sundays we are able to meet after Liturgy for coffee. We can, once again, come together in person to grow in Christ, to grow in Love, and to wash the mud from our eyes, (as we heard in the Gospel last week), to see afresh through the eyes of God. As we reconnect with each other, we glorify not only Christ, but our heroes of Ukraine, looking to them to guide us in selfless service to others, bringing greater justice, love, and peace to our parish and to the world. Slava Isusu Chrystu! Slava Ukraini!


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“He was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God”

It strikes me how often in post Resurrection accounts we hear of sight—recognition—understanding—often in unexpected situations. And so, readings in the Easter liturgical cycle echo this astonishing phenomenon of renewed perception: seeing what has been in front of our noses as if for the first time. 

  This Sunday’s Gospel story describes someone who couldn’t see from birth, yet once encountering Christ, gained sight. First he saw Jesus; the man who,

rather than spitting at him or slinging mud at him, as others no doubt often did, instead had him accept this dirt on his face and then wash it away.  This man first saw a good person and in time understood he had seen the Lord. When we look carefully at both readings from John (1 9-38) and Acts (16 16-34), we too might have a “lightbulb moment” where we glimpse the world through the eyes of Christ. I’d call this seeing with our heart. Ultimately, both readings illuminate the radical, unexpected nature of Christ’s teaching, that when recognized, transforms us and our perception of life. Indeed, perhaps the man born blind symbolizes you and me, unable truly to see the world around us without encountering Christ.  

  In the eyes of his society, the blind man was inferior; his lack of sight a divine punishment for sin, whether his own or his family’s. In Christ’s eyes, the despised beggar (like me and you) is a conduit for God. With Christ, the indignity others placed on the blind man is washed away, his human dignity illuminated by the “light of the world”. 

  In Acts, we see a woman slave being exploited by her male owners. Interestingly, her fortune-telling announces the apostles’ mission. A typical view would have applauded free publicity, but Paul “in the name of Christ” silences her prophesying, thereby depriving the slave owners of the profit they made from her predictions. Once again, Christ’s vision turns norms upside down. The “use” of a person exposed and interrupted. When the earthquake strikes open the doors and shackles of the prisoners, we expect Paul and Silas to escape, but they stay in prison, saving the life of their prison guard. Finally, this same guard neither runs nor locks up his prisoners as required. Rather, for the first time in his life through the apostles he meets God, and thus, gains his sight. Evoking Christ’s washing the feet of His disciples’ before eating with them, the jailor washes the wounds of Paul and Silas before bringing them home for a meal: “he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household”. Through the apostles the prison guard sees Christ: his has gained his sight! He and his world are transfigured.

May our vision also be restored. May we know the joy of meeting Christ and seeing through His eyes.

And may others see Him through us.


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Let us offer a prayer for our mothers and all those who have been like mothers for us. May the Lord bless them and keep them close

It has become commonplace for the Sunday of the Myrrh bearing women to evoke the prominence of women in the Gospel mission. And how fitting that this year in North America we celebrate Mother’s Day on this same day. Although it is nice to have specific days of appreciation, it is also ironic that both these illuminations of women appear in contexts that privilege men and persistently devalue the women’s roles that are being celebrated.

  Perhaps the time has come for us, once again, to examine the role of the Myrrh bearers, but this time to hear their call to action. It is critical that we recognize these women in their historical context in order to relate to them today.

  The very presence of women in the Gospel accounts of Jesus alerts us to their significance in Christ’s message. Biblical scholars attest that early Christian communities strove to emulate Christ in their relationships and social structures. Thus, as Paul explains, there was neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor freeman, man nor woman . . .

That Jesus spoke to women as His equals was a radical act, worthy of recording. Therefore, women in Early Christian communities exercised leadership roles alongside their brothers in faith. Eventually, as the Church flourished, Rome sought to destroy the Christians, using them as scapegoats for its neglectful and destructive policies. Christian communities sought acceptance in the mainstream, thereby gradually eroding Christ’s revolutionary equality and inclusivity. Despite women disciples, prophets, martyrs and saints, as the Church entered the mainstream, the role of women in the Church began to mirror its patriarchal society rather than the astonishing equality demonstrated by Christ.

  Today, as we reflect on the Gospel message, we can see how Christian living demands openness. Love is dynamic; it does not stagnate. Therefore, even as Church, we do not act simply because “that’s how it’s always been.” We must always be open to the fresh possibilities of sharing love. This is a choice we make with support and deliberation.

  Females are not biologically programmed to love more than males. Love in humans is nurtured from the womb. Women, having the potential to give birth have developed a social position as nurturers not only of humans, but of all life. We look to the Myrrh bearers and, indeed, to the mother of God as choosing to live God’s love. They have said yes to God, to Christ—despite the danger, fear, and undermining of norms.

Imagine the disciples, men and women, hiding away at Passover—their dear Jesus in the tomb. Imagine the courage it would take to leave the room, knowing that followers of Jesus are at risk of the same treatment He received. They were afraid—as any sensible person would be. Nevertheless, they went to the tomb. They risked their lives to honour the death of their friend in the customary practice of their Tradition. They chose to show their love, more than their fear. These women were the first to know the news of salvation, the first to know the Resurrection, the first to tell the others. Imagine, the fear. Imagine the courage.

  Today, as we honour this event together with mothers in our life, let’s look to the astounding courage of our own mothers who have said “yes” to love, teaching us how to love others, our culture, our Church. Let’s acknowledge the courage of the women of Ukraine, feeding others, caring for others, working to preserve the dignity and integrity of Ukraine and its people. Let’s work to recognize and stop the sexism all around us that devalues women on a daily basis. We look to the Myrrh bearers and all caring women to learn the courage, honesty and generosity of life lived in love.

With gratitude to our mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters whose loving lives bring hope to our world.


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We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

(Teilhard de Chardin)

  How fortunate that Thomas wasn’t hiding out with his fellow apostles, that first day of the Resurrection. A week later, on his return, he hears that Jesus is actually alive after dying, because Mary, the other women, and then the others staying together, had seen and spoken with Him, even

eaten with Him. They believed Christ had risen from the dead because they saw Him with their own eyes. That core group of disciples described their experience to Thomas. It’s no wonder Thomas needed that experience as well. “Hey—I want to see our beloved friend too. I’ll believe my own eyes.”

  We are human beings; we experience life through our physical bodies. We experience God through our physical bodies. When we listen carefully to what has been recorded in the Gospels of the Risen Christ, we see a clear pattern. The disciples have real, tangible interactions with Christ, but He always sends them beyond Himself to others. He tells the women at the tomb to tell the others. He tells those locked in the room to go out and spread the news. He tells Thomas: “Peace. Don’t worry; come see for yourself.” There is no rebuke—only tenderness and understanding.  Thomas’s need is natural and those who hear about his experience will be happy and blessed. They now have the opportunity to see the Truth without needing to verify Christ’s death by touching the mortal wounds. They are you and me.

  But how do we encounter Christ? How do we know God through our human physicality? Christ leaves no doubt that we meet God through each other and all creation. Through the Risen Christ we see the world transfigured in holiness. When we see the world transfigured, we experience Christ. Every Sunday, as we celebrate Christ’s triumph over death, we share the Eucharistic bread that sustains us as the Body of Christ. Christ is tangible through us—His followers. The reading from Acts (as do the Gospels) tells us that Christ is physically present through you and me, when we live in Love, as Jesus did.

  Our Ukrainian custom of having a community Sviachene on the Sunday of Thomas is a perfect echo of the early Church’s experience of the Risen Christ that we hear in today’s readings. Through being together and sharing hospitality, the walls of our doubts, yearning, illness, and sorrow are shattered, and we can come into the peace of Christ’s presence among us. As we meet our brothers and sisters again, or for the first time, at Divine Liturgy and over coffee, let’s feel the Love and Peace of Christ that our togetherness brings.

God works through life, through people, and through physical, tangible,

and material reality to communicate [God’s] healing presence in our lives.” (R. E. Webber)


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CHRIST IS RISEN!

On this Easter morning, let us look again at the lives we have been so generously given and let us let fall away the useless baggage that we carry – old pains, old habits, old ways of seeing and feeling – and let us have the courage to begin again. Life is very short, and we are no sooner here than it is time to depart again, and we should use to the full the time that we still have.

  We don’t realize all the good we can do. A kind, encouraging word or helping hand can bring many a person through dark valleys in their lives. We weren’t put here to make money or to acquire status or reputation. We were sent here to search for the light of Easter in our hearts, and when we find it we are meant to give it away generously.

  May the spirit and light of this Easter morning… bless us all, watch over us and protect us on our journey, open us from the darkness into the light of peace and hope and transfiguration.

John O’Donohue, Irish poet and philosopher