We, the delegates of the VI session of UGCC Patriarch Council gathered in Ivano-Frankivsk, Pre-Carpathian region on the 25th-27th of August 2015, headed by Father and Head of UGCC His Beatitude Patriarch Sviatoslav, when discussing the topic “Vibrant Parish – a Place to Encounter the Living Christ”, elaborated certain approaches to renewing the life our Church in Ukraine and other regions.
We witness by our presence at the Council that parish is the place, where the faithful are most likely to encounter Christ through Christian doctrine, common prayer and serving a neighbour. By cherishing and renewing our parish life, we renew the Church itself. Therefore, we propose the following ideas that might be divided into three levels: the Patriarch level, the Eparchial level and the Parish level.
“The Word of God”
- While constantly forming priests and seminarians:
– pay attention to different methods and approaches to preaching for different categories of people in the course of homiletics;
– hold practical course of Sacred Scripture prayerful reading (Lectio Divina).
- Call the laity to pray for good and diligent priests and preachers of the Word of God on a regular basis.
- Remind the laity about their duty to evangelize by means of witnessing Christian life.
- Process and publish Sacred Scripture in electronic version (translated by I. Khomenko) with comments, explanations and reference material: symphony, parallel places and other Ukrainian translations as well as a dictionary of the Greek language.
- Ask eparchial bishops to support and encourage the development of Biblical Apostolate in their eparchy parishes.
- Recommend eparchial bishops to organize the days of spiritual renewal for priests.
- Call priests to preach and explain the Word of God not only on Sunday and holidays but during every Divine Liturgy where the Old Testament is read, Holy Sacraments are received as well as during other liturgies and blessings.
- While the Anointing of the Sick, it is recommended that the priest engages relatives in reading the Psalms and the Apostle.
- Encourage priests to introduce Biblical catechesis as a method of adult catechesis.
- Remind the faithful how important it is to possess one’s own copy of Sacred Scripture. Eparchial and parish communities should help socially deprived persons to buy Sacred Scripture.
- Encourage priests to get acquainted with different methods and practices of reading Sacred Scripture in UGCC and apply them in parishes.
- Launch Biblical groups and clubs in parishes so that the faithful have an opportunity to understand Sacred Scripture better and are able to explain it to others.
- Encourage priests to take into consideration children’s presence while explaining the Word of God.
- Make use of modern mass media when proclaiming the Word of God and conducting catechesis.
- In order to experience and understand Sunday Good News better, priests should print changeable parts of Divine Liturgy for the parishioners.
- Encourage prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture in parishioners’ families.
- Use different effective practices of popularizing Sacred Scripture reading.
- Make sure that catechesis is relevant, meets the requirements of the time and is presented in a practical way.
- Introduce systematic catechesis of adults based on UGCC Adult Catechumenate Program.
- Introduce liturgical catechesis for parishioners of all ages using pre-holiday, holiday and post-holiday texts, especially before church feasts.
- During catechetic teaching, particular attention should be paid to cherishing love to the prayer and respectful attitude to the church and sacred things.
- Elaborate a program of liturgical catechesis (prepare unified texts for parish liturgical catechesis suitable for all ages).
- Organize eparchial and deanery training of catechists and animators (active laity) and support their continuous formation.
- Organize profound catechesis based on UGCC Catechesis “Christ – Our Pascha”.
- If necessary, catechetical training should be conducted in the language of the country it is held in.
- Use pilgrimages and common rest as a good opportunity to hold special catechization.
- Introduce systematic catechization of adults based on the UGCC Adult Catechumenate Program.
- Parish community shall make all efforts for the catechesis to become a primary parish task, which would cover all age groups (children, teenagers, youth and adults) as well as social groups regardless of the number of people.
- Establish parent councils that would promote the development of catechesis in parishes.
- In parishes with no catechesis, it is necessary set up catechetical schools and engage catechists to serve there.
- Organize camps, both outside and inside parishes for special catechesis.
- Introduce systematic catechesis of adults based on the UGCC Adult Catechumenate Program.
- As members of the Universal Church, we have to be open to missionary activity – evangelization.
- Remind the clergy and the faithful that missionary spirit in UGCC is never restricted by ethnic background.
- Encourage the faithful to witness their Christian position through public manifestation of faith (e.g. through Christian greeting, symbol of Christ etc.).
- Modern conditions of missionary activity, evangelization and kerygma should be taken into consideration within the seminary program in “Missiology”.
- In view of the Church’s need for missionary trainers, the priests who have special ability for missionary activity and are specially educated should be sent for such training.
- Encourage priests to explain the missionary task of the Church in more details.
- In missionary activity, authentic testimony of faith and life of the saints and UGCC new martyrs should be taken into consideration.
- Develop pilgrimages and religious tourism.
- Support the development of UGCC official web site including its translation into different languages.
- Elaborate prayerful requests about missionary vocation of every Christian.
- Promote praying for missionary spirit and continue holding annual decade of missionary activity in all UGCC parishes.
- Stress missionary vocation of every Christian (to share their faith) and suggest specific examples of missionary activity during catechesis.
- Organize formation of the laity on the parish and eparchial levels.
- Encourage bishops and priests to engage the laity in administrative and household responsibilities of the eparchy and parish (building, repairs, household) and dedicate more time to communication with the faithful.
- Encourage creating different communities in parishes which would make the faithful more open to others and ready to testify about Christ.
- Encourage families that form parish communities to take active part in missionary activity (e.g. in volunteer projects).
- Stimulate families to reestablish Christian traditions (e.g. common prayer, meal and participation in Sunday Liturgies).
- Encourage parishioners to invite their friends and acquaintances to take part in the life of parish communities (e.g. invite friends for common prayer, vigils and other events that take place in parishes).
- Encourage priests to hold retreats and other events on missionary activity in
- Call the parishioners to joyfully witness their faith – to evangelize.
- Create the Book of Parishioners and regularly fill it in (forms with parishioners’ contact details for the priest to be able to reach them at any time).
- Encourage celebrating Church Feast after the Divine Liturgy to have common meal and communicate with each other on the level of parish.
- Organize meetings of different age groups to share the faith with parishioners (family, youth meetings etc.).
- Place a notice board where the faithful could ask for prayer in parish.
- One of the following years in UGCC (in a year or two) should be dedicated to the liturgical life of the Church.
- In order to celebrate the day of blessing Patriarch Cathedral of Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv:
А) set the 18th (5th) of August as a Day of Blessing Patriarch Cathedral of Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv;
Б) authorize Patriarch Liturgical Commission to write and submit for approval the service dedicated to this holiday.
- Process appropriate comments and explanations to liturgical texts.
- Complete the translations and publishing of liturgical books, necessary to conduct liturgies (menaion, transistor).
- Establish centralized publishing of liturgical texts and other materials as well as their translations into other languages.
- Compile the Book of Needs, paying particular attention to the rites, which are actual in modern pastoral service.
- Unify and arrange liturgical texts for the clergy and laity in different languages.
- Process and publish liturgical services dedicated to Ukrainian saints of the XX century.
- Encourage priests to conduct the rite of Initiation during the Divine Liturgy.
- Research the proposal to return the practice of saying the words of silent prayers aloud as well as the rite of peace.
- Stress the importance of adhering to the UGCC liturgical books during the Divine Liturgy and warn the priests against unauthorized changes. (Such changes may be introduced only by the Father and Head of the Church after the approval of UGCC Synod of Bishops).
- Call the priests to conduct liturgies conscientiously and attentively (clearly say the prayers, not to hurry with liturgical movements, control the posture and keep their chasubles clean).
- Introduce the Divine Liturgy with children involved and process recommendations for such liturgies.
- In the course of Liturgical theology in Seminaries, it is necessary to stress the importance of beauty and esthetics of the Church during liturgies.
- Pay attention to the prayerful and liturgical formation of seminarians.
- Take care of professional training and continuous formation of deacons/readers and create internet resources for distant training of deacons.
- We recommend to create a unified UGCC database with all the reference materials for liturgies and promote theological texts through official media resources of UGCC.
- Call the priests to conduct the Divine Liturgy every day (if possible).
- Supplement the existing online platform “Dyvensvit” with liturgical texts in different languages taking into consideration different church calendars.
- Publish rules in the form of recommendations on how to behave during the Divine Liturgy; explain the parishioners how to cherish piety in their behavior, clothes and posture in the Church.
- Ask eparchial bishops to make their cathedral churches examples of perfect liturgies and prayerful life.
- Ask eparchial bishops to control the compliance of architectural norms, internal decorations and paintings in the Church with Church rules and traditions more carefully and cooperate closer with eparchial commission of sacral art and architecture in this sphere.
- Introduce liturgical catechesis and preaching in parishes. Elaborate educational strategy on explaining liturgies to the faithful, choosing appropriate time and way (before or after the Divine Liturgy, handing out printed comments, explanations and engaging trained laity).
- Take care of the beauty of liturgical singing, pay attention to the diction, deacon’s clear language, proper sounding and encourage parishioners to take part in singing during liturgies.
- Engage children in liturgical life in parishes, trusting them with different duties.
- Make sure there are liturgical books in parish community and parishioners have the texts of liturgies held in parishes.
- Encourage the faithful to witness about the importance of prayer in their lives.
- Pay particular attention to cherishing love to prayer and learning our liturgical and praying heritage.
- Encourage all the faithful to practise Jesus’s prayer both personally and in community.
- Prepare the faithful for liturgy, explaining its importance and beauty.
- Use social media to ask for prayer.
- Restart using bells that call for common prayer at a certain time.
- Introduce systematic formation for current prayer communities.
- Encourage to stress the importance of prayer and organize broadcasting of Church prayer rule on TV and Radio.
- Eparchial bishops should pay more attention to common prayer and communication with the laity during bishop’s visitation of parishes.
- Call priests to show personal praying example in the parish community.
- Encourage children and youth to take active part in parish liturgies and foster them in this direction.
- Appoint prayers and liturgies in parishes for the time suitable for people and also in the evenings.
- Organize brotherhoods for men and promote their spiritual formation in parishes.
“Communion – Unity”
- Introduce the rite of forgiveness at the beginning of Lent and encourage the faithful to reconciliation on the occasion of the completion of missions or retreats.
- Cooperate with other churches and confessions in the sphere of environment protection (ecology).
- Cherish mutual respect, love and
- Hold common spiritual, cultural and charitable events as well as processions on national and religious holidays.
- Suggest relevant programs and scientific and practical training for pastors and practicing Christians that would promote unity.
- Elaborate a program to get acquainted with other eparchies in order to exchange gifts and help each other.
- Call for common responsibility of bishops, priests, consecrated persons and the laity for executing decisions and laws of UGCC Synod of Bishops; this shall become a visible sign of unity in our Church.
- Help professional communities (e.g. teachers, doctors etc.) by organizing pilgrimages, prayers and other events for them.
- Practise ecumenical prayer in parishes and eparchies (Week-long praying for the unity of Christians etc.).
- Hold charitable events together with other Christian communities and religious organizations, cherishing mutual love and respect.
- Cooperate with other parishes in the sphere of various catechetic, praying and charitable initiatives.
- Set up communities of priests to promote unity among the clergy as a symbol of unity for the faithful.
- Encourage parish community to hold common liturgies, praying and different celebrations (Christmas, sharing kutia, blessing food) to promote the unity of
- Stress the importance of unity for children and the youth in parish schools and other communities (during Christian camps, meetings, conferences, forums, ecological projects, campaigns, Olympiads and contests).
- Organize different parish events (common meals, master-classes, sport activities, ecological campaigns) and inform each other about one’s needs and mutual help.
- Be open and accessible to new member of parish and be attentive to their needs.
- Create a parish web site or social network page.
- Organize meetings for the parishioners, where headed by their priest they would be able to discuss their idea of how they see their parish, express their wishes and expectations (e.g. at pastoral planning meetings, parish council meetings etc.).
- If possible, priests should have Sunday meetings with people after the Divine Liturgy.
“Serving Thy Neighbor”
- Stress the importance of continuous social service in UGCC parishes.
- Spread the Universal Church teaching on the protection of human life starting from the conception to natural death.
- Hold whole-church fund-raising campaigns for some specific social projects.
- Ask “Caritas” organization to take care of the formation of staff for different types of social service in parish community and provide them with relevant methodological help.
- Support Caritas and social service in parishes of central, southern and eastern regions of Ukraine.
- Ask eparchial bishops to pay attention to the social activity of the parish during their canonic visits there.
- Encourage to set up centers that would take care of orphans, help pregnant women, homeless and addicted people that are in difficult social circumstances.
- Organize special shelters for homeless people during cold seasons.
- Pay attention to socially deprived people (e.g. in wheelchairs) while building new Churches and restoring the old ones.
- Pay special attention to the importance of pastoral care for children, youth and families to prevent social cataclysms.
- Call parish community to social service as an important manifestation of our faith.
- Set up social councils, centers of Caritas organization or appoint people that would be responsible for social service in parishes.
- We recommend parish councils to include programs of social service in their planning
- Call parishes to help priests and people engaged in penitentiary service.
- Encourage parish community to take care of elderly people.
- Encourage parish communities abroad to help Ukrainian emigrants with legal, language, employment problems and implementation of state programs.
- Cherish co-responsibility of the laity and priests for the Church duties.
- Encourage respectful attitude of the laity to the priest.
- Stress the importance of constant formation of both the priests and bishops.
- Introduce the course of pastoral planning in seminaries.
- Encourage priests to be examples both in personal and family (if married) life, cherishing the virtue of modesty in particular.
- Call priests to live on the territory of their parishes, get acquainted with the parishioners, be open to them and distribute responsibilities equally.
- Explain the vocation and task of parish councils, showing this way your trust and support in their service.
- Ask eparchial bishops to introduce training of pastoral and financial councils members in parishes.
- Organize educational and spiritual training for accountants, sextons and other people who serve in parish.
- Elaborate and implement parish Charters.
- Organize common meetings for parish councils from different parishes.
- Encourage people to share effective parish practices at eparchial and diaconal meetings.
- Introduce a course of lectures in parish administration into the program of continuous formation of priests.
- Draw eparchial bishops’ attention to the difference between the regular visits of parish and canonical visitation.
- Call the priests to live in parishes and encourage parish community to supply their pastor with everything necessary.
- Set up parish pastoral and economic councils (if there are no), hold honest elections to existing councils and inform parish community about their activity.
- Set up parish communities with members of different professions to engage them in different types of serving and volunteering.
- Encourage parishioners to issue parish
- Encourage the clergy and UGCC faithful to introduce the practice of tithe (time, talents, material goods etc.).
- Organize a course “Gifts Management” for the priests and laity.
- Set up a feedback mechanism concerning the implementation of Councils’ resolutions.
- Express gratitude to “Working Groupon Implementation of the UGCC Development Strategy 2020. Vibrant Parish – a Place to Encounter the Living Christ”.
- Initiate post-council conferences of all levels (eparchial, diaconal and parish) in order to inform all the UGCC faithful about the Resolutions of the Council. .
- Ask eparchial bishops to set up a fund of priestly help aimed at helping priests and their families in need.
- Encourage pastor to cooperate with parishioners on a regular basis.
- Recommend priests to inform parish community about the activity of the parish on a regular basis.
- Call parish community to pay special attention to the needs of asocial families.
- Recommend parishes to engage consecrated persons (sisters and brothers) to hold retreats, parish schools etc.
- Encourage establishing parish advisory departments, engaging professionals from different spheres (priests, psychologists, lawyers etc.).
Rev. Oleh Kas’kiv
Secretary of the VI session
Of the UGCC Patriarch Council
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