UGCC seeks possibility to provide pastoral care for its faithful in Israel
On February 12-21, on the instruction of Patriarch Lubomyr Husar and with the blessing of the head of the Pastoral and Missionary Department (PMD) of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), the executive secretary of the PMD, Fr. Vasyl Potochniak, visited Israel. The goal of the trip was to get acquainted with the pastoral care needs for the faithful of the UGCC who work there as migrant workers or have moved there for permanent residence, the Information Department of UGCC reported.
According to Fr. Potochniak, in the city of Haifa, there is a Ukrainian Church community of 20-50 people. They have prayed in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of the city for a year and a half. The community has its own web site (www.haifagrcath.net) and helps pilgrims from Ukraine.
Usually, once per month, the community is joined by faithful of other nationalities, especially Moldovans, Russians, and Romanians, to visit holy sites with the priest.
During a meeting with the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Haifa, Nazareth and all Galilee, Elias Shakur, the possibility to receive a UGCC priest for regular service to the faithful of church and to grant church buildings to the UGCC communities was discussed.
"At the meeting with the Melkite Greek Catholic Coadjutor Bishop Josef Tserei of Jerusalem, one could also sense a desire to help the faithful of the UGCC," said Fr. Potochniak. According to him, there is a Greek Catholic Church in Tel-Aviv, where the first liturgy will be celebrated on March 13 for the newly established UGCC community. The liturgy will be celebrated by Fr. Rastislav Dvorovy from Slovakia who speaks Ukrainian.
Apostolic Nuncio Antonio Franko expressed gratitude to the leadership of the UGCC for not forsaking its faithful abroad, and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fuad Tval, assured support in establishing and leading UGCC communities in the whole territory of Israel.
Since the 1970s, 700 thousand Ukrainain citizens have moved to Israel. Since Ukrainian independence, 300 thousand people moved to the country. There are also approximately 10 thousand Ukrainain migrant workers in Israel. According to various sources, about 5 thousand Greek Catholics live in Israel.