SUNDAY, 10 JULY 2016

The parish feast day should be a time when we renew and strengthen our identity as a parish in the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Sts Peter and Paul. That is our place in the Church. Our identity is inevitably tied to those activities which enable the presence and ministry of Jesus Christ to endure here and now. This is done every time we celebrate the Divine Liturgy. But there are other mysteries (sacraments) and events which contribute toward the ministry of Christ. Some of those things we do well such as:

  • Our community school with its Religious Education program
  • The icon group which deepens the faith of participants
  • The beginnings of an adult education program which assists us in the understanding of the faith
  • The recent social outreach project of the women’s group which contributed toiletries and personal items to the homeless in Melbourne
  • Our ongoing support for the Church in Ukraine.

But there are also some other things we need to do or do better:

  • Since homelessness is such a large and increasing problem in Melbourne we should consider expanding this activity and even collaborate with another organisation with experience in assisting the homeless.
  • The new catechism Christ Our Pascha has now been published and will be available quite soon now. Make no mistake this is not a book for children. It is directed to every Ukrainian Catholic adult. The clergy of your parish will be studying it closely under my direction. How will we develop a program for parishioners to meet in groups and study this basic and essential text for faith development?
  • Last year the sobor in Ivano Frankivsk made the Biblical apostolate one of its key objectives for our Church. As Catholics we need to know the bible far better. Our liturgy is a liturgy littered with important biblical texts. The liturgical book of the Gospels (evangelion) and the epistles (apostolos) are the building blocks for anyone who seeks to have a mature understanding of the catholic faith. But we need recent scholarship and the church’s guidance if we are to truly understand the Gospel rather than succumb to the terrors of fundamentalism

In order to understand what our church ought to be allow me to quote briefly from the teaching of Pope Francis in his apostolic letter Evangelii Gaudium:

I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security . . . If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. (#49)

Pope Francis here tells us that this is how we can offer everyone life in Jesus Christ.

May I suggest that two of our priests have in many ways been attempting to be out on the streets visiting our own community. I refer of course to Fr Peter Struk who has had a mission to the sick and the shut-ins for many years. More recently Fr Ivan Mysiv has developed his own unique ministry of visitation to those who are not so close to our church. We need to build on their work of outreach. There are of course many examples of outreach in our Church around the world. Let me mention just two:

  • The Yorkton Redemptorists have been running the Welcome Home since 1993 in Winnipeg where young lay people share in their ministry which they describe as: a concrete response to the invitation of the gospel to make the choice Jesus made – the choice in favor of the poor.
  • There is a UGCC parish in the eparchy of New Westminster, Canada. It is in the city of Richmond on the outskirts of Vancouver. The priest, Fr Richard Soo SJ is of Chinese descent and he has been offering significant outreach by ministering to the Chinese community there. Recently he received a Chinese Protestant convert into our church
  • I should also the work of Fr Olex Kenez in Asia which is gaining momentum.

If we are the Church of Jesus Christ we must think very hard about our attempts at outreach.

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Very Rev. Fr Brian Kelty