Ottawa Ukrainian Catholic Community Celebrates Elevation of Fr. Andriy Chirovsky

MASI Acting Director Fr. Andrew T. Onuferko, Fr. Peter Galadza and Fr. John Jillions celebrate with Fr. Chirovsky at St. John the Baptist Church in Ottawa on November 25, 2005

Two events brought the Ukrainian Catholic community together this past weekend at Saint John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Shrine in Ottawa. The first was a Pontifical Divine Liturgy, during which Fr. Andriy Chirovsky was elevated to the rank of mitred protopresbyter. The following day, Fr. Chirovsky celebrated a Divine Liturgy in thanksgiving for his 25 years of priestly ministry.

Fr. Chirovsky is well known to the Ukrainian Catholic Community in Ottawa as well as throughout Canada and the US. He is the founder of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, initially established at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in 1986. In 1990, Fr. Chirovsky transferred to Saint Paul University in Ottawa. The Institute was established as a unit of the Faculty of Theology in 1992, and has since developed a full program of theological studies, from a one-year certificate to the doctorate. In 2003, Fr. Andriy moved to Arizona for personal health reasons. He continues to teach students at the Sheptytsky Institute through teleconferencing and with frequent trips to Ottawa.

The Pontifical Divine Liturgy was presided over by Bishop Stephen Chmilar who drove from Toronto for the occasion. He was delighted to “honor and praise someone who received a calling from our Lord and is truly honouring it.” He noted that the bestowal of Fr. Andriy’s new mitre will make him stand out among the people and he thanked Fr. Chirovsky “for bringing joy and beauty to our Church.”

Long-time friend and Acting Director of the Institute, Fr. Andrew Onuferko delivered the homily. He asked the community to pray for Fr. Andriy’s work as a theologian and teacher, for his priestly ministry, and for his desire to do the good in life. “Fr. Andriy is someone who loves God and we need to recognize his new mitre as a sign of Fr. Andriy’s continued desire to do everything in his power to work for the good.”

Fr. Chirovsky thanked the bishop for bestowing this blessing upon his head but stressed it belonged to the Institute and to those he has worked with over the years at the Sheptytsky Institute and on the Sheptytsky Institute Foundation. “MASI is the work of many people and there aren’t enough mitres around for those who deserve them. I must first bow to those who have helped me along the way.” He thanked Fr. Andrew Onuferko, as well as fellow professors Fr. Peter Galadza and Fr. John Jillions. He acknowledged the support of Foundation President Eugene Cherwick and Directors Ed. Hladunewich and Walter Bilous who were present for the occasion. He recognized Vice-Rector Colin Levangie and the administration of Saint Paul University. Finally, he expressed his gratitude to Peter and Doris Kule, and to the many others who support the Institute in prayer and generous giving.

The following morning, Fr. Andriy celebrated the early morning Ukrainian Divine Liturgy in celebration of 25 years of priesthood. Fr. Peter Galadza preached before the parish community, noting Fr. Chirovsky’s remarkable achievements and dedication, against great odds. The Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League generously provided a reception in the Church Hall after the service. Fr. Andriy thanked the Saint John the Baptist Shine for allowing him to minister there for over a decade. He expressed his deep love for the Ottawa community and asked for continued prayers for himself, his wife, Halyna and the rest of his family.

Fr. Chirovsky, born in 1956 in New Jersey, studied in Rome at the Pontifical Urban University, at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, where he earned an M.A. in Theology at the Institute of Christian Thought, and did doctoral studies at the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary of the Lake, earning a doctorate in Sacred Theology in 1990. He is the Peter and Doris Kule Professor of Eastern Christian Theology and Spirituality at Saint Paul University. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the respected scholarly revue: Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies.

The author of numerous books and articles of both a scholarly and popular nature, Fr. Chirovsky has lectured extensively throughout North America, Europe and Australia. He married Halyna Pawlyshyn of Rochester, NY in 1979. They have two children, Sophia (born in 1983) and Alexander (born in 1987). He was ordained to the priesthood by Patriarch Josyf (the Confessor) Cardinal Slipyj in Castelgandolfo, in 1980.

In addition to published articles on iconography, Fr. Chirovsky also produced two video programs on the subject: The Iconography of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Church in Chicago, and the six-hour series: To Write an Icon, both available from the Sheptytsky Institute in Ottawa.