Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Byzantine Catholic resurrection in Delco

A story from about a year ago: Two Ukrainian Catholic parishes become one in Ridley.

On my list to visit: Holy Myrrh-Bearers Ukrainian Catholic Church in Swarthmore, Pa., created by the merger of Holy Ghost, Chester, whence came the fine baroque iconostasis, and SS. Peter & Paul, Clifton Heights, which I visited once (sorry, dismal; no iconostasis or singing); the church bought a closed old Presbyterian building. The people probably want a Saturday-night Mass so they have one rather than Saturday Vespers, like the first Ukrainian Catholic church I went to 30 years ago. I imagine like that place it could be to accommodate two languages; one service is in English. But I've been told this place does everything in English. Ukrainian Catholics probably still used Slavonic 30 years ago; now they use Ukrainian. Pictured: Metropolitan Stefan (Soroka) and other bishops consecrating the new church.

My first traditional Catholic Mass in person when the American church offered nothing similar; thanks. Eastern rites, such as the relatively large Byzantine Rite including this, seem self-limiting in America, parishioners gone often within three generations, but have much potential to bring in the lapsed and unchurched, a traditional Catholicism without some of our cultural baggage (such as Latin, not that Latin's not good). They have a spectrum of practice from unlatinized to latinized and that's fine. Its online dissenters from church teaching (usually converts making the Orthodox' mistake of putting their love for the rite above the church; worse because it's liturgically conservative, getting some Catholics' trust) seem rare in real life, thank God. In the western Ukraine, under the Communists, church members were heroes, often refusing to leave the church when ordered to (all of their bishops said no), forming an underground church (a survival lesson), and those who were forced out (the Soviets gave parish churches to the Russian Orthodox) came back as soon as possible, when Communism collapsed.

Being an unlatinized Byzantine Catholic who supports the magisterium is probably one of the hardest Catholic callings.

Ukrainian Catholicism has been in the Philadelphia area for about a century (often refugees from the Communists, right after World War II, like the priest and congregation I visited elsewhere 30 years ago) but not as numerous as upstate in now-declining coal-mine and steel-mill country (like in The Deer Hunter), immigration from before World War I.

Slavonic's medieval, related to Russian and Ukrainian; Ukrainian is to Russian as Portuguese is to Spanish.

I'll probably catch the Saturday-night Mass on a summer weekend when there's a car show or flea market on Sunday.


  1. I'm sorry, but twin TV screens livecasting all that's going on behind the iconostasis?! Your silence on that aspect of the posted image is deafening. Just how distastefully anti-traditional is that?! Fostering the same kind of anti-transcendent ethos of faux-"active participation" so beloved of Bugnini-style innovators in the Latin rite - now in an exciting, new Byzantine flavor!

    1. I thought of that too right after posting.


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