His Beatitude Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, was the main celebrant of a Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving in the Papal Basilica of St. John Lateran commemorating 420 years since the signing of the the Brest Union. During the homily he underscored the continued relevance of the Union of the Ukrainian Eastern Catholic Church with the Holy See.
The solemn Divine Liturgy was concelebrated by Most Holy Dionisio Lachovicz – Apostolic Visitator for Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Italy and by Most Reverend Irynej Bilyk – Canon of the Basilica of Maria Maggiore in Rome. Other co-celebrants included the Basilian Fathers of St. Giosafat, members from the Congregation of Oriental Churches, the Papal Oriental Institute in Rome, the Papal Ukrainian Collegio of Saint Giosafat, many priests of the UGCC in Rome and various cities of Italy and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. Consecrated religious attending from the Order of Sisters of St. Basil the Great were General Superior Mother Dia Stasiuk, Vicar General Sr. Lydia Anna Sawka, and General Councillors Sr. Mariela Rotzen and Sr. Nazariya Mykhaylyuk. In addition to the members of the General Administration also present were Sr. Iryneia Filipovych, student living at the Generalate, and sisters from the Ukrainian Province mission community ministering at the Basilica of St. Sofia on Boccea in Rome – Sr. Makariya Glyuzdyn and Sr. Emmanuila Shumylo.
During the pastoral homily, His Beatitude Sviatoslav put forth a question based on the Gospel reading “How can we be good and wise stewards, able to minister better to the people of today?” The Head of the UGCC emphasized that 420 years ago when the Kyiv Church united with the Apostolic See, our Hierarches and faithful were searching for the same things that we are searching for today: renewal of our spiritual lives, the equal dignity of the various Churches (Rites), good models, the unity of all the Churches into one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church. His Beatitude underlined that regardless of the many discussions and even misunderstandings about the Union of Brest and continuing questions about the union of the Churches, to this present day, noone has come up with a better union than the one which our Bishops presented in Rome. As it was then, so it is today, the Ukrianian Greek Catholic Church strongly needs this union. The Head of the UGCC gave thanks to God, our Lord, for Pope Clement VIII – the Pope of the Union of Brest and for those Bishops, who had the courage to take the bold step of unity, for the gift of martytdom, the gift of the Resurrection of our Church, and for known and unknown martyrs who gave their lives for the unity of God’s Church. His Beatitude Sviatoslav asked God to strengthen us and give us the inner freedom to freely share this gift of unity of the Churches with others.