Ukrainian Major Archbishop Shevchuk preaches message of hope in New York

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, delivered a powerful message of hope during the Mass celebrated for the persecuted Church at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, organized by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to raise awareness about the plight of Ukraine.

Mass for Persecuted Christians at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk on March 10, 2024.
Mass for Persecuted Christians at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk on March 10, 2024.

Despite the tragedy faced by millions of Ukrainians due to the war with Russia, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with Rome, stressed the importance of hope to the Christian faith as Easter approaches. In a homily during a Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in New York, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk emphasized the significance of this virtue in the face of tragedy and despair. “Christ is our hope, His words and love are our hope. His death and resurrection are our hope”, said His Beatitude. “Hope is what we all need — every human soul navigating life’s challenges and moments of despair. All of us who are facing our own sinfulness. We all need hope! Hope is what the hearts of my people long for.”

The Mass (10 March) was presided over by New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who expressed gratitude for the tradition of the Mass of Supplication for persecuted Christians coordinated by Aid to the Church in Need. This was the third year of ACN’s “Courage in Faith” initiative, which dedicates a week each Lent to the plight of the persecuted Church around the world. ACN is featuring Ukraine as part of its 2024 Lenten Campaign. He described it as “a splendid initiative that brings much needed support to suffering Christians around the world. We gather in a special way to pray for those who are suffering for their Faith.”

Regina Lynch, the Executive President of ACN International, spoke before the Mass and explained that ACN’s support for the persecuted Church is as a vital as ever: “The persecutors have changed but, in this century, we still have persecution.”

During the Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, ACN International’s Executive President, Regina Lynch, spoke of the Christian persecution happening nowadays.
During the Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, ACN International’s Executive President, Regina Lynch, spoke of the Christian persecution happening nowadays.

Following the celebration, the major archbishop presented Cardinal Dolan and Regina Lynch with a framed piece of shrapnel from a drone that targeted his residence in Kyiv. This symbolic gesture aimed to demonstrate the adversity faced by Christians. The major archbishop also gifted a traditional Ukrainian Easter egg, a symbol of hope, to show that despite the adversity faced in the world, Christians are carried by their faith.

The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, was also present at the Mass, showing the solidarity of the worldwide Catholic Church in support of the persecuted Church.

ACN has been a longstanding supporter of the Catholic Church in Ukraine and has dedicated its 2024 Lenten Campaign to raise awareness and support for Ukraine. Since the full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022, ACN has provided over 15 million euros in support through more than 600 projects in Ukraine.

Regina Lynch (left), Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (centre), and Philipp Ozores, ACN International’s General Secretary.
Regina Lynch (left), Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (centre), and Philipp Ozores, ACN International’s General Secretary.

During his homily, Major Archbishop Shevchuk thanked ACN, amongst others, for their support offered to the Ukrainian Church: “I express gratitude to Catholics in the US and worldwide, to His Eminence Cardinal Dolan, and to Aid to the Church in Need and for the support we experience every day”.

He acknowledged the generosity of ACN towards the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for decades, stating, “many of our bishops and most of our priests were supported by scholarships from your donors. Among those lucky students I was one! Aid to the Church in Need has demonstrated singular generosity to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for three generations. We thank you for your prayer, advocacy and aid. By God’s grace we stand. Thanks to God and to you.”

 

By Joop Koopman.
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