Three quarters of the population of the eparchy (or diocese) of Ivano-Frankivsk in Western Ukraine are members of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, which is in communion with Rome but celebrates the Liturgy in the Byzantine rite. That makes this diocese the largest community of this particular rite in Ukraine, in terms of the number of faithful. And with 400 priests, averaging only around 35 years in age, it also has the highest number of Greek-Catholic priests in the country.
Nor is the flow of vocations drying up. At present there are no fewer than 213 young men training for the priesthood at the seminary in Ivano-Frankivsk. They come from five different dioceses of West Ukraine.
The seminary building itself dates back to the 19th century. During Soviet times, when the Church faced persecution, it was used as a training school for communist cadres. When the building was finally returned to the Church, after the collapse of communism, it was in an appalling condition. The seminary opened again in makeshift conditions and the seminarians of the time rolled up their sleeves and set to work to clean up and renovate the building, with support from ACN. And more recently, ACN has again helped the seminary to carry out essential repair and extension work to accommodate the growing number of students. Once again, the seminarians have rolled up their sleeves and helped, in order to keep costs down as far as possible.
At the same time ACN is also providing regular support, year on year, for the formation of these future priests. For the cost of living is rising sharply and gas, electricity, water, food supplies and other basic essentials are becoming so expensive that the seminary cannot cover the cost alone. So this year ACN is planning to help once again, with a subsidy of 600 Euros per seminarian, so that they can complete their studies and be ordained to the priesthood. For the 213 young candidates, this comes to a total of 127,000 Euros. Can you help us?