Priests and Bishops from Australia have been visiting New Zealand for about 60 years. At one time, there were about 3,000 people there from the same camps that Australian Ukrainians came from. Today only a few of the original migrants are still alive. Very recent immigrants from Ukraine are the present members of our community.
On 6th February 2014, Bishop Peter and Fr. Andrij met two Ukrainian Redemptorist priests, Fr. Ihor Kolisnyk CsSR and Fr. Yaroslav Feduniv, CSsR, who had just arrived from Lviv, Ukraine. Together, the group set out to meet as many local Ukrainians as possible.
Mr. Taras Klish of Auckland was elected the head of the Ukrainian community in Auckland during a meeting held on Sunday 9th of February. An executive was elected to assist him. After the meeting, a Divine Liturgy was celebrated at St Mary’s Church in Glendowie – the church of the Redemptorists in Auckland. After the liturgy and prayers for Ukraine, people stayed around until the evening for songs and fellowship.
The four visitors travelled by car to Wellington for a picnic with the local Ukrainians. This was held at the beach just north of Wellington. It was a day of food, song, and fellowship. Close to 40 people gathered for what is now a yearly tradition there. The Vorobeys, a husband and wife team, are the leaders of the community there. They work very hard to keep the group together. They hold concerts, festivals, and picnics, of course. About half of that number came to the Wellington Cathedral for Liturgy on Sunday. Candles were blessed after the Liturgy. Those present enjoyed a beautiful lunch.
The situation in Ukraine has certainly united the people in New Zealand. They, as Ukrainians around the world, worry about Ukraine’s future and pray for a more peaceful resolution.