From 9th to 11th of April, Bishop Mykola Bychok paid his first pastoral visit in the history of the Melbourne Eparchy to the faithful in Darwin, Northern Territory.

The first day of the visit began with the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary Star of the Sea in Darwin, conducted by Bishop Mykola Bychok, Eparch of Melbourne, with Fr. Igor Golovko, Syncellus of the clergy. After the service, a meeting was held with the local Ukrainian community. The future presence of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Northern Territory, the needs of the Ukrainian Community and the humanitarian aid for Ukraine organized by local Ukrainians during the war were discussed during this meeting.

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On Sunday, 10th of March, Palm Sunday according to the Gregorian calendar, several prayer events took place. The day began with an ecumenical prayer and blessing of palms in Raintree Park for the people of the city. The following people were present at the joint prayer: Bishop Charles Gauci, Ordinary of Darwin, Bishop Mykola Bychok, Eparch of Melbourne, Bishop Greg Anderson, Bishop of the Anglican Church, Fr. Ihor Holovko, Syncellus of clergy and other representatives of religious denominations. Later, a joint procession through the city streets to the Catholic Cathedral took place.

At the beginning of the Solemn Mass, Bishop Charles blessed the palm branches. In a sermon to the faithful, Bishop Mykola said: ‘For six weeks now, the whole world has been watching what is happening in Ukraine and is helpless to stop this horror. War is always a great tragedy, not only for the country but also for its people. Genocide of our population is taking place in Ukraine now. At this stage, we can all ask ourselves, “Why?” or perhaps even, “Why God?” We should remember just one thing- that God suffers with us. He enters our lifelessness, hopelessness and worthlessness with compassion and love, giving us hope.’

At the conclusion of the prayer, Bishop Charles addressed all those present with the words of St. John Paul II: “The Catholic Church breathes with two lungs. Today’s service clearly shows us that the Western and Eastern Churches are together as one organism. Ukraine is currently at war. I call on all the faithful to fervently pray for peace and security in Ukraine during the Passion Week.”

On the last day of the pastoral visit, Bishop Mykola Bychok visited the Missionaries of Charity sisters of St. Mother Teresa. The meeting began with a joint prayer for Ukraine. Afterwards, Bishop Mykola shared with the sisters about the horrors of the current war in Ukraine. The Hierarch also sincerely thanked the sisters for their ministry and encouraged further prayers for an end to the war.

It is worth noting that during the three days of the pastoral visit, the prayer “We run to Your mercy, Virgin Mary” was heard everywhere. May the Blessed Virgin Mary cover the whole of Ukraine with her Holy Intercession, giving us the long-awaited peace.