Bishop linked to freedom

10.02.2014, 11:45

From his home in Winnipeg, the epicentre of the great Ukrainian immigration to Canada, the Church was always Bishop Cornelius Pasichny’s vital link to Ukraine’s struggle for freedom.

At 86-years-old Bishop Pasichny, former Ukrainian Catholic bishop of Saskatoon and Toronto, died on Jan. 30.

When Bishop Pasichny was born in 1927 the Soviet Red Army occupied the eastern two-thirds of Ukraine while the western third was part of Poland. By the time he was five years old seven million Ukrainians were being deliberately starved to death so Joseph Stalin could force Ukrainians out of family farms and into collectivized agriculture.

In 1942 he joined the Order of St. Basil the Great at a time when Nazi troops occupied Ukraine and guerrillas were fighting both the Nazis and the Soviets at once. When he was ordained a priest in 1953, the Red Army was crushing the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and filling Ukraine with Russians.

Bishop Pasichny became superior of the Ukrainian Basilians in the post-Vatican II period, and throughout those years acted as spiritual director for seminarians. He was Ukrainian Catholic bishop of Saskatoon for three years before he became Ukrainian Eparchial Bishop of Toronto and Eastern Canada in 1998.

Divine Liturgy was scheduled to be celebrated at Toronto’s St. Nicholas Church on Feb. 5, with burial at Holy Family Cemetery in Winnipeg Feb. 7.

“His loss is quite a loss for the Toronto Eparchy and for our Church throughout Canada,” said Winnipeg Metropolitan Archeparch Lawrence Huculak.

He will be remembered by his Ukrainian Basilian brothers as a deeply and steadfastly spiritual man, said Huculak. Pasichny was also a scholar who taught Latin and Church Slavonic in the Basilian seminary.

Compassion, empathy and work were the hallmarks of Pasichny’s life, said his successor in Toronto Bishop Stephen Chmilar.
“His heart was always open to whoever needed it,” said Chmilar in an email to The Catholic Register. “When he saw people suffering he always was able to empathize with them.”

He served with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Commission for Ecumenism, 1996-1997, and the Commission for Theology, 1997-1999.

In his retirement after 2003, Pasichny remained active in translation and editing liturgical and historical texts. He was editor of the Ukrainian periodical Svitlo. His keen eye as an editor caught an error in a letter Huculak was about to send out to Ukrainian Catholics in Canada just over a week before he died.

“He caught a mistake in it and very nicely said, ‘Did you mean this word or that word?’ He was very good at that, at paying attention to editorial work,” said Huculak.

Michael Swan

7 February 2014 The Catholic Register