Слава Ісусу Христу! Praised be Jesus Christ

I sincerely welcome all of you, our guests, at this welcoming banquet for our New Bishop, a fellow Redemptorist, Mykola Bychok.

We have just a few hours ago witnessed the enthronment ceremony in our very beautiful cathedral, in a very moving ceremony.

I want to thank all of you who have helped organize this event, and all of you who attended the service. Your presence means a lot to us in the Eparchy.

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Before I go any further I would like to acknowledge the pioneer work that my predecesssor, Bishop Ivan Prasko did in setting up this Eparchy. He arrived about the time when in 1948-49 most Ukrainian refugees came to Australia to settle in this far away country. As bishop, he called his faithful to form communities across this whole region. He led the building of churches and other buildings necessary to form a church and community. When I came here in 1993, the Eparchy was mostly in place. We all acknowledge and thank Bishop Ivan.

I am delighted that we have a new bishop, Mykola Bychok. I ask the Eparchy and the whole Australian church to pray for him and our people as we continue our journey in faith, to discover our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and our customs and traditions on which our faith is based.

Our church is a global church which has global responsibities. This is now the task of Bishop Mykola. I do, however, have  spiritual obligations which I intend to fulfill. These are to pray for and to support the Eparchy as it progresses into its future. This Eparchy will always have a special place in my heart. I pray that, as a united Church and people, all of us may meet in the new life of the resurrection.

I will always be thankful for the privilege I had of being the Bishop of this Eparchy. I have a lot to be thankful for in my 28 years of sevice. So many people from every parish in this Eparchy who have worked with me to meet the challenges we faced. I am thankful for all the parish councils, parish organizations, members of the Eparchial institutions, the Pastoral Councils, the Financial Councils, Consultors, Tustees, Committees, my secretaries, and my various advisors. May God Bless all of you.

The most important group I must thank and pray for are the priests, deacons  sisters, and all the religious vocations we have had and continue to have in our Eparchy. We have good and holy clergy. May God bless you and may the Lord continue to love our church and send us new vocations. I ask all of you to continue to work together under the leadership of Bishop Mykola.

I must thank the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Conference for the love and appreciation of the Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia of which we are one. I have served in many conference committees over the years. The Australian church is one of the best in the world when it comes to accepting diversity and keeping unity as well. It is exemplary in working with migrants and refugees.

I thank our Brothers and Sisters in the faith, the Victorian Council of Churhes of which I was president for a few years. Their support is truly appreciated. At the same time , I also remember the National Council of Churches and the interfaith networks. All of these are important to our Eparchy and our people.

In conclusion I want to say that all of us must work with our new Bishop Mykola. John Donne, a poet, once said that “no man is an island”. Our church is not an island as well.

Our church is part, a very important part, of the big picture which is our society. We will only succeed in the future if we figure out what role we play in that picture. So I ask you to reflect with me, as we explore together, on what that role will be for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the future. Far be it for us to inspect life through the rear vision mirror. The challenge we face today is to reassess how we may best live and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I conclude with the words written two millenia ago by the Apostle, Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippians :

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).

Please pray for me as I will continue to pray for you.

12th July, 2021

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