“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:17)
We are gathered together electronically, a modern way of gathering in today’s world, to give thanks to God for the blessing we have all received from Him.
Our Catechism, “Christ Our Pascha”, says that the purpose of the church is to let God speak to human beings to make Himself known to us and to call them into communion with Him (#18).
The Gospel of John (20:31) says that the church exists so that we “may believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that through faith, we might have life in His Name”.
When the church gathers, it gives praise to God because our life-giving God is amongst us.
Our Eparchy has had three bishops. Each one of us came from a different era and with different gifts and obligations.
However, our church has a single purpose and direction.
One thing each of us has in common-we all have our family roots in the heart of Ukraine, the Ternopil region.
Bishop Ivan was the organizing pioneer who established the heart and soul of our Ukrainian church in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.
I came when the church was already established and had to work on preparing for the future.
Bishop Mykola has a different call from God, to bring the church into the future post-Covid world. He is our bishop now. Please pray for him, support him, and work with him.
We gather today in prayer and thanksgiving for all the priests, deacons, and sisters, who have worked and are working in the Eparchy today.
We pray for all the people of our church throughout our Eparchy and thank them for the co-operation and sacrifices that they have put into building and maintenance of this church. Thank you very much. Your efforts are acknowledged and appreciated. May God Bless all of you.
Our Synod of Bishops and our Patriarch Sviatoslav have for a long time now been reminding our Ukrainian Catholic Church that we urgently need pastoral planning in our Divine Mission entrusted to us by God Himself.
Pastoral planning is a big word with a very wide meaning. It includes our prayer or liturgical life but also includes our social work, missionary work, our religious education, and all forms of pastoral support which are a part of every living church’s life.
I can assure you that Patriarch Sviatoslav is very serious about this. Months ago, when I was still in my last months as Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy, at a meeting through Zoom, our Patriarch asked me: “Bishop Peter, what is the pastoral plan of our Eparchy in Australia?” For a couple of minutes I tried to explain what our plan was. The Patriarch listened and then said: “I can see that you do not have a pastoral plan.” We do have a plan, but I probably did not explain myself very well.
Our Eparchy needs to renew our pastoral plan constantly. The modern Ukrainian Catholic Church needs to be very mission minded.
I am retiring and this task is now in your hands under the leadership of Bishop Mykola and the whole Eparchy. But I can continue to help. I will support our Eparchy with my prayers.
I can, however, also tell you today that it is my intention to establish for the Eparchy a “Bishop Peter Stasiuk Religious Education Fund”. I have been in religious education the whole of my life. To establish this fund, I intend to be the major contributor to create the existence of it. Of course, everyone can contribute to it.
Religious education is the basis of our faith and practice in the church. We, as a church, all need a solid knowledge of our faith, customs, and traditions. Our Eastern Catholic Church is special and unique. Pastoral and missionary work is only possible if we understand the Holy Scriptures, our Catechism, and all our customs. The very future existence of our Eparchy depends on God’s Blessing and our good will.
We, as an Eparchy, also need to be very missionary minded. Our Eparchy not only includes Australia but also includes New Zealand and Oceania. We all know and love our people in New Zealand. We know that we must renew our mission there. A couple of years ago, I was in Oceania, in Papua New Guinea. In the four days I spent there, I heard about the fact that about 20 Ukrainians were living nearby. I met a number of them. Ministry to them is our responsibility.
St. Paul says: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13)
Today is a celebration of thanksgiving. I personally want to thank you for the past 28 years. Again, I want to thank all the priests, deacons, religious sisters for your good work. I will remember in my prayers, all my past and present secretaries and co-workers. A special thank you to those who have served and still serve on the Parish Councils within the Eparchy. Thank you to all who have served in the Eparchial Committees, ie Pastoral and Financial and those who worked in the Youth Ministries. Thank you to all the faithful of our Eparchy who come to church, support the church, and do whatever is necessary to make it run smoothly. It is important that we all have a role to play within the church community and everyone, no matter what their contribution and involvement, they are all appreciated.
I ask that God Bless all of you and that you may be rewarded by our Lord who knows everything we do in secret.
I will now move on to the next phase of my life’s work. I will not forget you. I do intend to come back, once the restrictions are over, and enjoy some pleasant Australian hospitality and great Australian weather.
May God Bless you all!
Bishop Peter Stasiuk
September 12, 2021