Published in Church & Life(1846) 31.1.2013 – 27.2.2013

Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk C.Ss.R. (1911-1996) was one of the great leaders of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the 20th Century. He was a Redemptorist priest who was born in Ukraine but studied at the seminary and university of Leuven, Belgium, where he finished two doctoral degrees just about the time that Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky died and our church went underground in 1946. He was elected a bishop in 1951 and became the first Metropolitan of Canada in 1956.  In 1960 the Second Vatican Council began in Rome. Hermaniuk was already well known by then. He spoke many languages. He was a leading theologian of the Council and a fearless defender of the Eastern Catholic Churches and was given the title, the “father of Collegiality of the Council”.

Collegiality is a doctrine and an attitude. It was one of the distinctive features of the Vatican Council. It says that all bishops by virtue of their episcopal ordination amongst themselves and with the Holy Father have a corporate responsibility for the unity of faith in the church.

In 2012 Metropolitan Maxim’s personal diaries from the years 1960-1965 were published in Ukrainian and English. In my mind, this is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read about our church. During those years I was a seminarian and only heard small details of what was going on in the church at the time.

If you are interested in the Second Vatican Council, the history and development of the Ukrainian Catholic Church outside of Ukraine, the arrival of Patriarch Josyf Slipyj from Siberia, and the struggle for church recognition of the Ukrainian Catholic Patriarchate, then this book is for you.

Metropolitan Maxim reveals an insight into our church history which is unparalleled. We have to remember that there were no Ukrainian Catholic synods of bishops at the time as we have them today. There was little sense of the importance of unity within our church. Many bishops still did not realize the implications of a Ukrainian Catholic Patriarchate and could not even agree on a common liturgical language. Without the privilege of official church leadership, Metropolitan Hermaniuk tried to guide the church towards that unity. When Patriarch Josyf took over, our bishops were hopelessly divided it seems, that he and Metropolitan Hermaniuk just could not do what had to be done.

Metropolitan Maxim bemoans the entrance of the religious-political forces into the Patriarchal question. One is left with the impression that, if the bishops were united as they are today, Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk actually had enough influence in Rome that we might have had an official Patriarch today. The England question plus other squabbles caused the Holy See to pull back on the matter. However enough work has been done by the likes of Metropolitan Maxim and recent church leaders that one can only hope and pray for a resolution of the question soon.

I personally knew Metropolitan Hermaniuk very well. He ordained me a priest in 1967 and a bishop in 1993. I practically worked my whole life in Canada under his direction at St. Vladimir’s College in Roblin. Metropolitan Hermaniuk visited Australia a number of times. He tells the story of how the Vatican finally approved the creation of our Eparchy in Australia. He blessed many of our churches and halls. The last time he was in Australia was for my installation as Eparch in May 1993.

He died sitting in a chair, peacefully saying the rosary on May 3, 1996. He genuinely was a very holy, prayerful, and peaceful man.