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New Ukrainian archbishop is a native New Yorker

John Burger - published on 06/03/19

Archbishop Borys Gudziak will be enthroned by head of Ukrainian Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk

A native of Syracuse, New York, who has spent many years as a Catholic leader in Europe, will return to the United States this week as an archbishop of the largest Eastern Church that is in communion with Rome.

Archbishop Borys Gudziak, 58, will be enthroned Tuesday as Metropolitan Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy, or Archdiocese, of Philadelphia.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Head and Spiritual Father of the Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, will preside at the hierarchical Divine Liturgy during which Archbishop Gudziak will take possession of his new archeparchy.

Archbishop Gudziak succeeds Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka, whose resignation for health reasons was accepted by Pope Francis in April 2018. After the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, meeting in Ukraine in September, made its recommendation to the Holy See, Pope Francis announced the appointment of then-Bishop Gudziak as seventh metropolitan-archbishop of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia on February 18.

The new spiritual leader for members of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the United States, was most recently Eparch, or Bishop, of the Paris Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great for France, Switzerland and Benelux, a position he held beginning in 2012.

Born in 1960 in Syracuse, N.Y., to parents who had emigrated from Ukraine, Gudziak earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and biology from Syracuse University in 1980 and then studied in Rome. There, he was close to Major Archbishop Josyf Slipyj, the exiled leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church who had spent many years in the Soviet gulag. Gudziak received an STB degree in theology from the Pontifical Urban University in 1983 and then earned a doctorate in Slavic and Byzantine Cultural History at Harvard University, in 1992. In 1995 he earned a licentiate in Eastern Christian studies from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome.

In 1992, he moved to Lviv, Ukraine, where he founded and directed (1992-2002) the Institute of Church History. In 1993, he was appointed Chairman of the Commission for the Renewal of the Lviv Theological Academy.

He was ordained as a priest  on November 26, 1998.

From 1995 until 2000, he served as Vice Rector of the Lviv Theological Academy, then as Rector from 2000 to 2002. In that year, Gudziak became Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University (founded on the basis of the Academy), and in 2013 its president.

As head of the Paris Eparchy, Gudziak is credited for increasing the number of priests and parishes, establishing a new financial model for the eparchy’s sustainability, and widely engaging the laity.

He also serves as a member of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and as a head of the Department of External Church Relations.

During the 2013-2014 Maidan movement in Ukraine, he appeared regularly on leading global TV channels and media providing expert commentary.

Gudziak has received numerous awards and distinctions. In 2015 he became a Cavalier of the Order of Legion of Honor (Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur), the highest decoration in France. In 2016 he was awarded the Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Award in Wroclaw, Poland, in recognition for his work in shaping civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2018 he received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Syracuse University, and a literary award from the Ukrainian chapter of PEN International. He travels globally with lectures and talks on theology, history, spirituality, education, society, and current challenges in Ukraine. He speaks English, Ukrainian, Italian, Polish, French, Russian, and German. Gudziak is the author of a number of scholarly works, among them Crisis and Reform: The Kyivan Metropolitanate, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Genesis of the Union of Brest (Harvard University Press, 1998). He is among the authors of A Pope Francis Lexicon, edited by Cindy Wooden and Joshua J McElwee (Liturgical Press, 2017) and a collection of essays about the future of Europe.

The enthronement ceremony on Tuesday will begin at 11:00 a.m., and will be broadcast by EWTN. The installation is being marked by a number of other events this week. On Sunday, George Weigel, biographer of Pope John Paul II, gave a lecture at the Archeparchy’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia on the topic “Twentieth Century Witness and Twenty-First Century Mission: Eastern Catholics and the Universal Church.”

On June 6, Archbishop Gudziak will address “The Future of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in North America” during a conference held at The Catholic University of America. Catholic University’s School of Theology and Religious Studies will announce the creation of a Center for Ukrainian Church Studies within the newly created Institute for Eastern Christianity.

That morning and the following, His Beatitude Sviatoslav will celebrate a hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington. He will be back at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday to address a Youth Day, and will preside at Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral for Pentecost Sunday.

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