UGCC Bishop tells about the development of the Exarchate of Odessa
In an interview with the Vatican Radio, when asked about the Church of St Michael the Archangel in Odessa, which was opened for worship on November 22, 2020, Bishop Mykhailo Bubniy, Exarch of Odessa, highlighted the realia of the local Greek Catholic community during its formation.
Now the church of St. Michael the Archangel invites the faithful to worship and prayer. And although the Decree on the Establishment of the Community has already been read at the opening of the temple, it still takes some time for the faithful to identify with the name. It is necessary to complete the church from the inside. Then, according to the exarch, the church will be consecrated in full liturgical and canonical style.
According to him, the Exarchate of Odessa covers 4 southern areas: Odessa, Kherson, Kirovograd and Mykolaiv. There are 44 priests, 3 deacons and 7 seminarians. 80% of the Exarchate's clergymen come from Western Ukraine, 20% - from the Exarchate of Odessa. Three parishes of the UGCC operate in Odessa.
"We create communities. We build churches. We are open to the ministry of chaplaincy. We try to serve the greatest number of our faithful and more. After 17 years of service in the exarchate, there are still parishes that need to be formed. Territorially, the exarchate covers the Black Sea coast. Since 2000, a naval chaplaincy has been formed here, headed by Oleksandr Smerechynsky. The naval chaplaincy is a special service to the people of the sea. This is a special pastorate that allows sailors to receive spiritual care, regardless of a person's religious affiliation," said the bishop.
As for the special criteria in selecting priests to serve in the exarchate, which is being developed, the Exarch of Odessa pointed out the importance of dialogue with each priest to understand what ministry he is called to.
According to the Exarch, for the young Odessa exarchate, as well as for the whole Church, the pandemic has become a serious challenge that can be overcome, first of all, due to the fact that social service has always occupied an important place in the activities of the UGCC.
"In Odessa, Caritas is implementing various programs, including home care for single people. Volunteers and staff help those in need on an ongoing basis. There are one-time programs, including a refugee center that opened immediately after the war in the East, which forced many people to flee their homes. ФA kindergarten for refugee children was organized at Caritas. There was an action "Feed the Poor", an initiative dedicated to St. Nicholas. So, to the best of our ability, we keep pace with the challenges faced by the faithful in our area, "said Bishop Mykhailo Bubniy.