Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Trying to save the Ukrainian Catholic Church in America

Ukrainian Catholics in North America continue to struggle to develop ways to maintain their Ukrainian religious and ethnic identity amid a larger majority culture that beckons with the siren song of assimilation.

The answer may lie in young people, according to Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak, the newly enthroned archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, during a June 6 conference on the future of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in North America that he convoked at The Catholic University of America in Washington.
Having been using the Greek Catholic option for sound Catholics three years now in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, this is of interest to me.

A Novus Ordo religious-studies professor:
If Jesus were preaching and teaching today, we might think of him as that millennial hipster with some crazy ideas.
Two of my sayings: "Eastern churches in Western countries fail in three generations" due to assimilation and "everything that's not doctrine is on the table."

There are next to no kids where I go to Sunday Liturgy.

Byzantine Catholic churches often have their wires crossed. On one hand, while the Latin Church was being ripped apart after/because of Vatican II (I don't mean Catholic teachings; those don't change), they were undisturbed, allowed to remain traditional, so 34 years ago a married priest from the Ukraine celebrated my first traditional Mass (not counting Episcopal services) of any kind; it was Byzantine Rite. On the other, they're trying to survive the problem in my first saying, so they're tempted to Westernize by adopting Novus Ordo-ey gimmicks to "relate to the kids" (with predictably poor results both catechetically and regarding retention?). Like in liberal Canada, which has lots of ethnic Ukrainians. Altar girls and Eucharistic ministers!

The answer is what Orthodox jurisdictions in America do: offer a local vernacular version of the old services and good youth programs such as summer camps and of course good religious education.

You can do everything right and still lose just about everybody to assimilation, as is happening to the Orthodox too, but you'll know you did right.
Father Peter Galadza, a Ukrainian Catholic priest and theologian, said the Ukrainian liturgical rites hold an appeal to some non-Ukrainians who have joined the Ukrainian church.
Almost acknowledging people like me who don't like the Novus Ordo, who have saved a few Byzantine Catholic parishes and often become enthusiastic about the authenticity of the rite (even more so than many born members), which is what the church wants. Official church people don't like to admit these refugees exist, and when they do mention it, they're disparaging: "could not accept liturgical change," blah blah. That might be changing as the liberals die out. Of course it's the Byzantine Rite, the Ukrainian recension of it, not a Ukrainian rite.

You've got to be careful with nationalism and ethnicity. The latter has its place in church as long as it doesn't take over. Community. Overdoing or stamping out ethnic culture would kill the parish. Ukrainian Catholicism is very nationalistic culturally but the parish I go to is more like its Ruthenian cousins in that the people are descended from immigrants from before World War I when their villages were under Austria-Hungary. So it's not extremely nationalistic. And I've never been told to get out for not being Ukrainian.

P.S. Why did I become Catholic? Like other Anglicans, when I realized I wasn't. More to the point, when recently asked, because the teachings make sense and I need to belong to something and someone.

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