Nominee Bishop Maksym Ryabukha: "I would like to be a sign of God's love for everyone"
On Monday, September 19, 2022, the Vatican reported that Pope Francis agreed to the decision of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC to elect the Reverend Fr Maksym Ryabukha, SDB, assistant bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archiepiscopal Exarchate of Donetsk. This Exarchate covers the territory of Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
In an interview for Vatican Radio, Vatican News, the nominee Bishop spoke about how he took the news of his appointment.
"On the one hand, as a simple priest who served as a Salesian for the good of young people and their growth, "he shared," I never really thought that the church could make such a decision about me. But, on the other hand, I understand that this land seeks God and seeks touch with the living God in current circumstances. And I am sure that the God I know and love has never left me or my friends or the young people who walked the road of their lives next to me. And it gives me a lot of faith that when God asks for something, he knows for sure that it's 'something' he wants to give."
Fr Marsym added that he knows many priests and monastics who perform their ministry in the Exarchate of Donetsk and many lay people who live in the occupied territories. "I know that all of them have a sincere and kind heart," the Salesian father stressed.
Fr Maksym Ryabukha will become the third Salesian bishop in the UGCC. Sharing his thoughts on how Salesian charisma can help him carry out his episcopal ministry, he noted that this congregation pays special attention to the younger generation, that is, to those who create the present and future of the Church.
"Working with young people, Salesians know that they work with the whole family," he said. – In the first half of the 90s, children often came to church and then brought their families. I believe that this experience will also help today to unite not only children but also families around God and the Church."
Based on his many years of experience working with children and young people, the newly appointed bishop noted that today's younger generation impresses him with their ability to express their thoughts freely and simply and their openness to knowledge. He also drew attention to the spiritual openness of young people. "God is not a stranger to them," he stressed. "Often, we think that they are far from the church and God, but this is not true. Personally, when I meet and communicate with young people, I see their openness and willingness to search together."
"There are many things that I would like to ask God for our people, for those sick people who went through the horrors of war," Fr Maksym notes. "I would very much like to ask for peace and joy."
According to him, the Salesian statutes envisage that Salesians should be signs and bearers of God's love among young people, especially the most needy.
"I would very much like to be the sign of God's love for all the people I meet," he concluded. "I would very much like every person who shakes my hand to say, 'I also felt God who was near,' because in God we find the strength to overcome even the greatest challenges, and we know for sure that we are not alone."