Archeparchy of Winnipeg

The Ukrainian Church

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (further The UGCC) is the largest Eastern Catholic Church of its own law (Ecclesia sui juris).

The UGCC belongs to the group of Churches of the Byzantine rite which are in complete mutual communion with the Roman Hierarch and acknowledge his spiritual and jurisdictional authority. In this context “rite” means the liturgical, theological, spiritual and legal inheritance.   

Names which are used to define the UGCC:

Union Church;

Ukrainian Catholic Church;

Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Byzantine rite;

Kyivan Catholic Church;

The name Greek-Catholic Church was introduced by Empress Maria Theresa in 1774 in order to distinguish it from the Roman Catholic and Armenian Catholic Churches.

In official Church documents the term Ecclesia Ruthena unita was used to designate the UGCC. From 1960 in official documents the name Ukrainian Catholic Church appears in relation to the Ukrainian Catholics of the diaspora and the Church in Soviet Ukraine, underground at that time. In the pontifical statistical annual Annuario Pontificio the name Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Byzantine rite is used. At the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC (in September 1999) it was suggested to use the name Kyivan Catholic Church, which would underline the identity of this Church.



Ukrainian Catholic Church Today
The modern status

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church is the biggest Eastern Catholic Church in the world. It numbers more than 5.5 million faithful.

According to the statistical data of the State Committee of Ukraine on Matters of Nationalities and Religions, the status as of January 1, 2013, for the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church shows:

Communities: 3 734/4

Monasteries: 117 (1093 monks and nuns)

Educational institutions: 16 (1130/185 auditors)

Sunday Schools: 1276

Periodical Editions: 27

Worship Buildings: 3 685

The UGCC is headed by the Major Archbishop of Kyiv and Halych, His Beatitude Sviatoslav. From 1989 to 2008, sixteen Synods of Bishops and four sessions of the Patriarchal Council of the UGCC were held: the first one was dedicated to problems of the new evangelization (1996), the second to the role of the laity in the life of the modern Church (1998), the third to problems in Ukrainian society, in particular to the problems of abortion, divorce, corruption and alcoholism (2002), and the fourth to youth (2007).


After exiting from the underground, in the period from 1989 to 1992 the Greek-Catholics of Ukraine belonged to three eparchies: Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Mukachiv. At the Synod of Bishops which took place in Lviv on May 16-31, 1992, a new territorial administration was appointed according to which the amount of eparchies was increased to four and they were: Ternopil’, Zboriv, Sambir-Drohobych, and Kolomyja-Chernivtsi. The Exarchate of Kyiv and Vyshhorod, which took territories from Halychyna, Transcarpathia, and Bukovyna, had a separate status.

According to the decision of the Synod of Bishops which took place in Buchach in August 2000, two new eparchies, that of Stryi and Sokal, were created, while Ternopil and Zboriv were reorganized resulting in the Ternopil – Zboriv and Buchach eparchies.

As of November 2000, all of Ukraine falls under the jurisdiction of the Major Archbishop and the Synod of Bishops.

In February 2002, the creation of the Donetsk-Kharkiv Exarchate was proclaimed.

On July 28, 2003, the creation of the Odesa-Crimea Exarchate was proclaimed.

On August 21, 2005, the transfer of the See of the Head of the UGCC from Lviv to Kyiv was proclaimed.

On January 15, 2008, the creation of the Luts’k Exarchate was proclaimed.

On November 29, 2011 in Lviv, on December 13, 2011 in Ivano-Frankivsk, and on December 22, 2011 in Ternopil, Pontifical Divine Liturgies were celebrated during which was read the Decree on the Creation of UGCC Metropolitanates of Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Ternopil-Zboriv.

On January 18, 2013, Roman Pope Benedict XVI elevated the UGCC Apostolic Exarchate in Great Britain to the dignity of an Eparchy, naming it, London Eparchy of the Holy Family for Ukrainians of the Byzantine Rite.

On January 19, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI elevated the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian-Catholics in France to the dignity of an Eparchy, naming it, Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great in Paris.




  1. Kyiv Archeparchy, headed by Kyiv-Halych Major Archbishop His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk);
  2. Lviv Archeparchy, headed by Archbishop and Metropolitan Ihor (Vozniak);
  3. Ivano-Frankivsk Archeparchy, headed by Archbishop and Metropolitan Volodymyr (Viytyshyn);
  4. Ternopil-Zboriv Archeparchy, headed by Archbishop and Metropolitan Vasyl (Semeniuk);
  5. Kolomyia-Chernivtsi Eparchy, administered by Bishop Vasyl (Ivasiuk);
  6. Sambir-Drohobych Eparchy, headed by Bishop Yaroslav (Pryriz);
  7. Buchach Eparchy, headed by Bishop Dmytro (Hryhorak);
  8. Stryi Eparchy, administered by Apostolic Administrator Bishop Taras (Senkiv);
  9. Sokal-Zhovkva Eparchy, headed by Bishop Mikhail (Koltun);
  10. Donetsk-Kharkiv Exarchate, headed by Bishop Stepan (Meniok);
  11. Odesa and Crimea Exarchate, headed by Bishop Vasyl (Ivasiuk);
  12. Luts’k Exarchate, headed by Bishop Josaphat (Hovera).


The Mukachiv Eparchy of the GCC, which canonically is a separate Church sui juris and not under the jurisdiction of the Head of the UGCC, maintains an autonomous status. The Mukachiv Eparchy with its See in Uzhhorod is headed by Bishop Milan (Sasik).



  • In Poland, the Przemysl and Warsaw Greek-Catholic Metropolitanate, which numbers more than 100 parishes. The amount of faithful is more than 300 000. The Eparchy of Wroclaw and Gdansk is also part of the Major Archbishopric;
  • In Western Europe there are three apostolic exarchates for Ukrainian Greek-Catholics: in Germany, France, and Great Britain;
  • In North America there are two Greek-Catholic Metropolitanates:

In the USA – the Philadelphia Metropolitanate, which consists of four eparchies: in Philadelphia, Parma, Chicago and Stamford;
In Canada – the Winnipeg Metropolitanate, which consists of five eparchies: in Winnipeg, Edmonton, New Westminster, Saskatoon and Toronto.


In addition, there are eparchies of the UGCC in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Curitiba (Brazil), and Melbourne (Australia). The Ukrainian Greek-Catholics also have a Vicariate in Romania, communities in Lithuania (Vilnius), Latvia (Riga, Daugavpils, and Rezekne), Estonia (Tallinn), Moldova (Chisinau), Austria, Paraguay, Venezuela, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Belgium, Kazakhstan, and Russia.



History of the Ukrainian Catholic Church
Ukraine has a long Christian tradition, dating from the 10th century. Today there are over twenty-two thousand religious communities in Ukraine from about eighty different Christian denominations, as well as other religions. But the atheist policy of the Soviets has left its mark: many Ukrainians today are unchurched because of the great spiritual void which the Bolshevik regime left in Eastern Europe.

The Conversion of Ukraine and Tensions Between East and West

In 988 Prince Volodymyr the Great established Christianity in its Byzantine-Slavic rite as the national religion of his country, Kyivan-Rus. This happened before the Great Church Schism of 1054 divided Christian East from West. The Kyivan Church inherited the traditions of the Byzantine East and was part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Yet this Church also remained in full communion with the Latin West and its patriarch, the Pope of Rome.

Though Constantinople and Rome had their disputes, the Kyivan hierarchy tried to work for Christian unity. Representatives from Rus participated in the Western Councils of Lyon (1245) and Constance (1418). Isidore, the Metropolitan of Kyiv, was himself one of the creators of the Union of Florence (1439).

While the Kyivan metropolia was working towards reunion, a new metropolia arose north of Kyiv, in Moscow. The Church of Moscow refused to accept the Union of Florence and separated from the ancient metropolia in Kyiv, announcing its autocephaly (self-governing status) in 1448. In 1589, with Greek Orthodoxy and Constantinople subject to Turkish domination, the Church of Moscow became a patriarchate.

Union with Rome in 1596 and East/West Divisions in Ukraine Itself

The Kyivan Church was challenged by the Protestant Reformation and the renewed Catholicism of that period and was also suffering a serious internal crisis. The Synod decided to pass under the jurisdiction of the see of Rome. The traditional Eastern rite of the KyivanChurch was preserved and its ethnic, cultural and ecclesial existence was guaranteed. This was confirmed at the Council of Brest in 1596, which is the beginning of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church as an institution.

Some hierarchs and faithful of the Kyivan Church, however, insisted on remaining under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Torn by internal division, the Central and Eastern sections of Ukraine passed under the control of the ruler of Moscow in 1654. Soon the Orthodox Kyivan Metropolia was under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate (1686). As the Tsarist Empire grew, it repressed the Greek Catholics and forced “conversions” to Russian Orthodoxy (1772, 1795, 1839, 1876). The Pratulin Martyrs died as a result of these repressions.

Orthodox clergy and laity in Ukraine were dissatisfied with the close connections of the Russian Orthodox Church with Russian national interests. “Ukrainophile” movements began and after the Russian Revolution in 1917 a movement began to gain autocephalous status for Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Attempts to proclaim autocephaly in the 1920s and 1940s were, however, repressed by the Soviet powers.

Polish and Austrian Rule in Western Ukraine

All of Ukraine had been part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at the time of the Council of Brest, and western Ukraine remained so. The Church played a leading role in preserving the cultural and religious independence of the Ukrainian population there. As the Western Ukrainian lands later passed into Austrian control, the imperial government of the Hapsburgs supported and protected the Greek Catholic hierarchy.

At the beginning of the 20th Century the Greek Catholic Church in Halychyna was graced by the exemplary leadership of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky (1901-1944). He was the spiritual leader during two world wars and seven changes of political regime, including Nazi and Soviet. His tireless pastoral work, his defense of the rights of his people, his charitable and ecumenical efforts made the Church an influential social institution in Western Ukraine.

The Legacy of Totalitarianism– Ukraine in the 20th Century

It is the tragedy of the 20th Century, the epoch of terror and violence, which has most affected the development of religious life in contemporary Ukraine. Approximately 17 million people are estimated to have died a violent death in Ukraine in the 20th Century. It is even more tragic that these losses were caused not just by war and conflict but by utopian ideals of re-building the world.

The war on religion was the ideology of the Communist regime and no effort was spared. Church buildings were ruined, burnt down, profaned; priests and faithful, Orthodox, Catholic and representatives of other religions were shot, arrested and deported to the Siberian gulag; church communities were persecuted, confined to underground activities or entirely destroyed. Both the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church at the beginning of the 1930s and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 1946 in Halychyna and in 1949 in Transcarpathia were liquidated. The Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches survived in only a handful of carefully monitored churches.

Even the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church (which functioned as a state church) were limited and it furthermore suffered from infiltration by Soviet security organs. There was a progressive spiritual vacuum and a deepening demoralization of society.

With the crisis of Soviet power in the 1980s, the suppression of churches ceased. The formerly forbidden Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church emerged from the underground and communities of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church were created in 1989. The declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991 created a new context for the activities of all the churches in this territory. Thus, official religious freedom in Ukraine opened the way for religious pluralism.

(written by Professor Oleh Turiy of the Institute of Church History of Lviv, Ukraine)

Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century

The 20th century was a difficult period for the Greek-Catholic Church. Thanks to divine providence, it was led during this period by some of the most prominent figures of Ukrainian history:


  •  Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky (1901-1944) led the Church during two world wars.



  • Patriarch Josyf Slipyj, Major Archbishop, Cardinal and Metropolitan (1944-1984) was exiled to the gulag; survived, and headed the Church in exile for 20 years.



  • Archbishop Volodymyr Sterniuk, Locum Tenens (Acting Head) of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine (1972-1991), led the Church from the underground to freedom.



  • His Beatitude Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, Major Archbishop and Cardinal (1984-2000), led the Church in exile. After returning home, he led the faithful in Ukraine.



  • His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop and Cardinal (since January 2001), leads the Church in the 21st century.Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky (1901-44). During his 44-year tenure, he guided the Church and Ukrainian society through two world wars and seven changes of regime: Austrian, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Soviet, Nazi and Soviet. He was born in Prylbychi, near Lviv, on 22 July 1865, to an ancient aristocratic Ukrainian family which in the nineteenth century had become polonized, Latin Catholic, and French speaking. Despite the strong opposition of his father, he returned to his roots to serve what was regarded as the “peasant” Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church as a monk of the Basilian Order.Blessed with extraordinary spiritual charisms, at the age of thirty-six Sheptytsky became head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. He worked tirelessly for reconciliation between ethnic groups and left a rich legacy of writings on social issues and spirituality. He developed modern methods of ministry, founded the Studite and Ukrainian Redemptorist orders, other religious communities, a hospital, the National Museum, the Theological Academy and sponsored various religious, cultural and educational institutions.Metropolitan Andrey was a patron of artists, students, including many Orthodox Christians, and a pioneer of ecumenism. He learned Hebrew so that he could speak with Jews. During pastoral visits to towns he was met by Jewish communities with the Torah. He harbored hundreds of Jews in his residence and in Greek-Catholic monasteries during the Nazi occupation. He issued the pastoral letter, “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” a bold outcry against Nazi atrocities. He died on 1 November 1944 and the process for his beatification is well advanced.Patriarch Josyf (Slipyj), Major Archbishop, Cardinal and Metropolitan (1944-1984). He was born on 17 February 1892 in the village of Zazdrist’, Ternopil’ Region, to Ivan Kobernytskyj-Slipyj and Anastasiya Dychkovska. He finished school in his native village and gymnasium in Ternopil’. He studied theology in Lviv, and consequently finished philosophical and theological studies in Innsbruck (Austria).

    On 30 September 1917 Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky ordained him a priest. After this he again departed for studies in Innsbruck, where received a doctorate in theology. From Innsbruck he went to study in Rome, where received the degree of “magister aggregatus.”

    Starting in 1922 he taught dogmatics at the Lviv seminary. At the end of 1925 he was appointed the rector of this institution and in 1929 rector of the newly created Theological Academy. In 1939 Metropolitan Andrey ordained Fr. Slipyj bishop with the right of succession. On 1 November 1944, the day of Metropolitan Andrey’s death, Bishop Slipyj became the leader of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.

    On 11 April 1945 he was arrested by the Bolsheviks and sentenced to eight years of forced labor in Siberia. After the termination of this term, without any reason he was convicted a second time for an indefinite term. In 1957 he was convicted a third time, to seven years of hard labor. Thanks to the intervention of Pope John XXIII and American President John Kennedy, he was released in 1963 to participate in the Second Vatican Council.

    For the next 20 years Patriarch Josyf tried to energize the life of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in the West. He founded the Ukrainian Catholic University and built the Church of Saint Sophia in Rome. He wrote many scientific works, some of them with twenty volumes.

    He died in 1984. In 1992 his relics were transported to Lviv, where they, with the participation of more than 1 million faithful, were buried in Saint George’s Cathedral.

    Archbishop Volodymyr Sterniuklocum tenens (acting head) of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine (1972 -91). Born on 12 February 1907, at Pustomyty near Lviv, after studies in Ukraine and Belgium he was ordained in 1931 as a priest of the Redemptorist order. He witnessed the liquidation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church at the “synod” of Lviv by concealing himself in the loft of St. George’s Cathedral.

    After his arrest in 1947, he spent five years in prison and labor camps in Siberia. He returned to Lviv to work as a park gatekeeper, bookkeeper, janitor and ambulance nurse while clandestinely continuing his priestly ministry.

    In 1964 Sterniuk was secretly ordained bishop and from 1972 to 1991 guided the UGCC in Ukraine until the return of Cardinal Lubachivsky. This period included the vicious persecution of the Brezhnev years and the final struggle for liberation in the late 1980s.

    As a charismatic pastor and leader of the underground church, Sterniuk guided it from a one-room communal flat with a kitchen and bathroom shared with neighbors. He is remembered for his combination of prudence, resoluteness, warmth and understanding. He died on 29 September 1997, and a great funeral procession was conducted through the center of Lviv.

    His Beatitude Myroslav Ivan (Lubachivsky)Major Archbishop and Cardinal (1984-2000). Born and raised in western Ukraine, he studied for three years in Lviv at the Greek-Catholic Theological Academy, predecessor of the present-day Ukrainian Catholic University. Sent abroad to study, he could not return to his homeland for decades, because of the Soviet occupation. He served the Ukrainian diaspora in the United States, was elected Ukrainian Archbishop of Philadelphia in 1979 and in 1984 became Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.

    Following his return to Lviv on 30 March 1991, Lubachivsky led the renewal of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine. Throughout a five-year period, as pastor to 7 million faithful, he found himself in a challenging position. The spiritual revitalization of a devastated Church, alleviating tensions with the Orthodox, rebuilding various church institutions, answering the needs of his clergy, building bridges with government officials and adhering to the expectations of lay activists all posed a formidable task for Lubachivsky on a daily basis.

    In 1995 Lubachivsky suffered a bout of pneumonia, which took a toll on his health. The following year, due to his frail condition, the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC chose Bishop Lubomyr Husar as Auxiliary Bishop to the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. After Cardinal Lubachivsky’s death on 14 December 2000, thousands of faithful braved freezing temperatures to pay their last respects.

    His Beatitude Lubomyr (Husar), Major Archbishop and Cardinal. (2001). Born in Lviv on 26 February 1933, he emigrated with his family in 1944, ending up in the United States. In 1958 he was ordained to the priesthood there and in 1972 he went to Rome and joined the Studite Order. In 1977 Patriarch Josyf ordained him bishop for the Church in Ukraine.

    In 1992 Archimandrite Lubomyr returned with the Studite community to Ukraine. On 17 October 1996 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop to the Head of the UGCC, Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky. After the death of His Beatitude Myroslav Ivan, the Synod of Bishops elected him the next Major Archbishop. He was enthroned on 28 January 2001 and on the same day it was announced that Pope John Paul II had named him cardinal.

    An article about Cardinal Husar appeared in the New York Times on 23 February 2001, the day after he received his cardinal’s ring in Rome. In it he talked about the role of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in relation to Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy. It is a recurring theme for him. Here is a speech he delivered on this topic at the Lviv Theological Academy (now Ukrainian Catholic University).

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