A one day retreat for the clergy of the Melbourne Eparchy of Ss Peter and Paul took place on Tuesday, the 20th of April, 2021 by zoom. Bishop Mykola Bychok led the retreat session.
In as much as our church finds itself in the time of Great Lent on the eve of Palm Sunday and Great Holy Week, the retreat was focussed on the Sacrament of Holy Priesthood. This will be celebrated by all priests on Holy Thursday. Bishop Mykola encouraged all the priests to turn their attention and thoughts to their day of priestly ordination when each of them received the great grace of the Holy Spirit.
In the order of ordination of the deacon the candidate to Holy Priesthood, the bishop recites the prayer which clearly and exactly explains the meaning of this sacrament:
“O God, All powerful and unknowable by the mind. Unfathomable in His designs for the sons of man. Lord, fill also this your servant whom you have willed to be raised to the order of the priesthood with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
There are five important responsibilities of the priest:
- That he be worthy to stand without sin before your Holy Altar
- That he preach the Gospel of Your Kingdom
- That he makes holy the word of Your Truth
- That he bring you gifts and spiritual sacrifices
- That he renews your people through the bath of rebirth
That he greet the second coming of the Great God and Saviour Our Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son and receive the reward for his good and faithful fulfilment of his duty as a result of your immeasurable grace and benevolence.
Bishop Mykola underlined the fact that priests are called to be true witnesses of God, especially as each one of us is sent as servant of the Church to build up the Kingdom of God already here on this earth. The Sacrament of Holy Priesthood is service to God and His people. Today in the Church it is very important that our service is demonstrated in the close and tight cooperation between bishop and priest, between brother priests and between clergy and the laity. Through this cooperation our service will be effective and built on trust between one another.
Finally, Bishop Mykola indicated that we as priests all need good examples for our spiritual life. On the 24th of April, 2009, His Beatitude Patriarch Lubomyr Husar pronounced Omelian Kowcz patron of all priests of the UGCC. Blessed Omelian declared often that the priest is not a law enforcement officer nor is he a worker or manager. The priest is a servant of God – the spiritual father of the parish. When a priest wishes to safeguard his flock in the faith, to belong to the church and in the liturgical life of the church, he must exit the sacristy and take live participation in the community life of his parish. Blessed Omelian succeeded in witness to Christ when he was in the parish of Peremyszlany, in time serving the faithful of Yugoslavia and finishing his life in the concentration camp of Majdanek.
At the end of the spiritual deliberations, Bishop Mykola emphasised that the coronavirus pandemic continues. This has placed new challenges before us as priests. Unfortunately, we have lost faithful in our parishes. We also have the task to bring back our people to the church after employing for some time online services. At the end the participating priests recited the Ninth Hour led by Fr. Andriy Mykytyuk. Bishop Mykola concluded the one day retreat by greeting all present with the day of priesthood and thanked all priests, deacons and nuns and sisters for their dedicated service to the church and its faithful.