By Adam DeVille, University of St. Francis
Nearly two-dozen theologians, thinkers, and writers of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church (UCGG) from across North America gathered from May 8-10, 2015 in Ottawa to plan future endeavors, including a new scholarly society. Meeting at Holy Spirit Seminary in Canada’s capital, leading thinkers from across North America met at an event sponsored by the Ukrainian Patriarchal Society and the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, and convened by Fr. Andriy Chirovsky. The Ottawa Colloquium on the Future of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church in North America was underwritten by the generous financial support of the Yonkers Ukrainian Federal Credit Union, the Self-Reliance Federal Credit Union of New York, and the Heritage Foundation of Chicago.
Though most of the participants were full-time academics at universities in Canada, the USA, and Europe, the colloquium was not a typical academic conference with a pre-arranged slate of scholarly papers to be delivered. Nor was it a typical church meeting—though bishops of the UGCC in North America were certainly informed. Bishop Ken (Nowakowski) of New Westminster, British Columbia sent written greetings.
With much prayer and frank discussion, participants used nearly three days of meetings to consider a wide array of challenges and opportunities facing the UGCC in North America in particular. Part of the time was given over to a deeper understanding of the strategic Vibrant Parish initiative (also known as the Vision 2020 Initiative), which is a project initiated by the synod of bishops; the colloquium voiced support for this effort. Such a diverse gathering of Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Theologians of North America has never before been accomplished.
Serious attention was paid to the opportunities presented by the 2014 Revolution of Dignity and the challenges created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Participants were deeply convinced that these are not simply political events, but that they represent widely variant visions of Church and society. Their impact on the life of the Church not only in Ukraine but also worldwide should be studied more deeply by theologians.
Participants agreed that they would heretofore in their writing and teaching refer to the Church as “The Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church” because the legal title of the Church in English (Ukrainian Greek-Catholic) is a mistranslation of the Ukrainian “Українська Греко-Католицька Церква,” as well as the German “Griechisch-Katholische Kirche,” the designation given to this Church by the Austro-Hungarian Empire several hundred years ago (not “Griechische Katholische Kirche”). The nomenclature has theological and pastoral ramifications and should not be taken lightly. The use of the word “Greek” confuses ethnic terms with those signifying an inherited tradition. The usage “Greco-Catholic” has been endorsed for theological reasons by the Sheptytsky Institute’s peer-reviewed journal, Logos: a Journal of Eastern Christian Studies, since the early 1990s.
In the end, the participants unanimously voted to create a scholarly society for Ukrainian Greco-Catholic intellectual endeavors in and for North America. A steering committee was formed to explore a charter for this society and further details about it will be announced later this year.
For more information, please contact Andriy Chirovsky, 480-217-8505