Thursday, June 30, 2011

Arise and spread God’s word: Bishop Stephen to youth

The Arise teen rally, which took place at the end of June, marks a new chapter in the history of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada. This gathering of  youth from various parts of our eparchy is the inaugural event of our new Eparchial Youth Ministry Office.

As our eparchy renews its focus on the role of local youth, we also celebrate the start of a new era in our broader Church community. In March, Sviatoslav Shevchuk was inaugurated as Major Archbishop (Patriarch) of Kiev-Halych and head of our Church.

Born in 1970 to pious parents in Stryj, in western Ukraine, Patriarch Sviatoslav practised his faith with his family secretly under the Soviet regime. Upon reaching adulthood, he witnessed the opening of the border and rebirth of our long-persecuted Church. He also had a chance to study in the West, in Italy, to travel abroad, and serve as a bishop in Argentina. These experiences undoubtedly shaped his character profoundly, and he now represents a generation of forward-thinking and optimistic Ukrainians with fresh ideas and attitudes.

In a recent Kyiv Post newspaper interview, Patriarch Sviatoslav said one of his priorities is to reach out to young people in the manner of the newly beatified Pope John Paul II, who drew millions worldwide to youth jamborees. “These meetings should always stimulate some common action,” Shevchuk said. “…These were meetings to say – do it!”

I heartily encourage you, the Awake rally participants, as well as all the young people in our parishes, to consider this important call to action.

You are being called to be evangelists, both among your peers in schools and social groups and among your elders. Like Patriarch Sviatoslav, with your youthful enthusiasm, you have the power to
re-ignite the fire of Jesus Christ in the hearts of many. May the Lord bless you, attendees, Father Andrij Figol and other organizers in your work at Arise 2011 and in years to come!

† Stephen
Bishop Stephen Chmilar
Eparch of Toronto and Eastern Canada

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