More than 500 people, including many Ukrainians attended the Divine Liturgy.

The Catholic Church unites to pray for peace in Ukraine and for the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia.

For the first time at a Plenary Council in Australia, the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom according to the Ukrainian Catholic Church was celebrated in the mother Church of Australia the Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians, Sydney.

The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Grace, Mykola Bychok, Eparch of Sts Peter and Paul for Ukrainian Catholics in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. Concelebrants at the altar were the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop Antoine Tarabey of the Maronite Eparchy, Bishop Bosco Puthur of the Syro Malabar Eparchy as well as Fr Simon Ckuj Protosynkellos of the Eparchy, Very Rev Denis Stanley, Rector of Corpus Christi Seminary, Melbourne and Frs Laurence Foote OP and Oleh Stefanychyn.

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The Archbishop of Sydney, His Grace Anthony Fisher OP welcomed all the participants of the Plenary Council. He extended a special welcome to Bishop Mykola, “I am very pleased that tonight we celebrate for the first time at a Plenary Council the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, a reminder of the large part of the Oriental Churches play in the life of the Catholic Church in Australia and worldwide. I am especially pleased to welcome the Ukrainian Catholic Eparch of Australia, Bishop Mykola Bychok to preside at this Eucharist tonight. Bishop Mykola, please know that the Catholic people in Australia of whatever rite, ethnicity or language, are united in love and prayer for the people of Ukraine and its diaspora who are suffering terrible violence from a big bully power and death, damage and displacement as a result. But faith and courage are carrying your people thru this trial, and we pray for them and for you this night”, the Archbishop said.

The homily was preached by Bishop Bosco Puthur, Syro-Malabar Eparch. His Grace reminded the members of the Plenary Council and all present that, “The Catholic Church is communion of Churches as St John Paul II reminds us the church breaths with two lungs… The Ukrainian Catholic Church and all Ukraine is now suffering… this Divine Liturgy is a cry to Heaven for peace. Mykola Bychok, the youngest bishop in Australia and he gives us hope for the Church in this country. Let love peace and joy prevail! In spite of the power of evil that suffocates the Church and the world everything is not lost. After Good Friday there is joy and hope of Easter. After every winter there is a spring!”

Also concelebrating were over 40 Archbishops and Bishops as well as many priests. They included Archbishop Charles Balvo, Apostolic Nuncio to Australia; Cardinal Charles Bo SDB, Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar; Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington.

The Divine Liturgy was beautifully sung by the English Choir of St Andrew’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish, Sydney under the direction of Mr Adam Wesselinoff. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was concluded with the singing of the Prayer for Ukraine “O God Great and One”.

More than 500 people, including many Ukrainians attended the Divine Liturgy on what was a very wet and windy evening. The Plenary Council continues its work until 9th July.

Photo: Fiona Basile