Patriarch Sviatoslav: For 1,030 years, UGCC has been a protector, soul of Ukrainians, a nation-building Church
Ukrainian Greek-Catholics from Ukraine and across Europe, USA, Canada, Argentina and Australia joined this year’s nationwide pilgrimage to Zarvanytsia dedicated to the 1030th anniversary of Christianization of Ukraine-Rus’. During the liturgy, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko prayed together with Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, UGCC hierarchs and clergy as well as 100,000 faithful.
The liturgy was led by UGCC Patriarch Sviatoslav, and it was dedicated to peace and unity in Ukraine.
“During the most challenging times, when our Ukraine was stripped of all her wealth, our grandfathers and great-grandfathers did not lose the treasure of faith. This is why our Church in the course of those 1,030 years has not only been a protector, soul of the Ukrainian people, a national Church but also a nation-building Church,” stressed the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church Patriarch Sviatoslav.
In his sermon, the leader of the Church noted that faith is the biggest treasure proclaimed by the Gospel today. “We have arrived here from various parts of Ukraine and across the world to celebrate the 1030th anniversary of Ukraine’s Baptism. Today in Zarvanytsia we thank for the fact that precisely in our Church for 1,030 years we have been passing on the gift of Christian faith in our families from one faithful heart to another.
We have been passing it on as the biggest treasure of our people. We thank God today for the UGCC being a worthy heiress of St Volodymyr and his Holy Baptism.”
It is exactly in the UGCC, according to the spiritual leader of Ukrainian Greek-Catholics, for 1,030 years without a pause, this treasure of faith has been passed on from lips to lips, from one generation to another.
“Even when there was not a single earthly institution capable of defending the rights of its people, to be its voice in the world, the pastors and leaders of our Church were the lips of the people who had been stripped of their voice, their right to existence. Because our Church enabled every Ukrainian to touch Jesus, in the Soviet times -- when other Churches that had inherited St Volodymyr’s Baptism ceased to represent our people’s interests -- it was exactly our Church that turned into the largest group of social opposition to the atheist communist authorities. We managed to survive, keep together as one people in the melting pot of the so-called Soviet people. And we reigned supreme as a Church over the God-less atheist regime.”
According to Patriarch Sviatoslav, pilgrims arrived at this holy place not only to meet each other but, primarily, to encounter the Mother of God. “With our Mother who never left us. To pray in front of Her miraclous Zarvanytsia icon, an icon that bears witness to all the above-mentioned tribulations.”
“Let us ask the Mother of God so that through Her prayers, through Her protection, and the prayers of faithful hearts of our Church, the Lord touches our people. So that what we pray for and dream of becomes our reality,” invoked the head of the UGCC.
Patriarch Sviatoslav stressed that the biggest treasure received by us from St Volodymyr is an assurance of our victory; that Ukraine was, is and will be there. But only if it remains Christian.