Ukrainian arch­bishop re­signs

Soroka cites med­i­cal rea­sons; fre­quently vis­ited Sem­i­nary Day at St. Nicholas Grove

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By JOHN E. USALIS Staff Writer

PHILADEL­PHIA — The res­ig­na­tion of Met­ro­pol­i­tan-Arch­bishop Ste­fan Soroka was an un­ex­pected an­nounce­ment to thou­sands of Ukrainian Byzan­tine Catholics in the United States who have had him as their spir­i­tual shep­herd since 2001.

On Mon­day, the Vat­i­can In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice an­nounced that Pope Fran­cis had ac­cepted the res­ig­na­tion for med­i­cal rea­sons of Soroka as the arch­bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archep­archy of Philadel­phia and Met­ro­pol­i­tan for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States. The res­ig­na­tion was ef­fec­tive Mon­day.

In light of the res­ig­na­tion, Pope Fran­cis has de­clared the Archep­archy of Philadel­phia as “sede va­cante” — Latin for “the seat be­ing va­cant.” The Most Rev. An­driy Rabiy, an aux­il­iary bishop of the archep­archy, has been ap­pointed by the pope as the apos­tolic ad­min­is­tra­tor of the archep­archy un­til the ap­point­ment of a new arch­bishop.

Soroka was ap­pointed as met­ro­pol­i­tan-arch­bishop by Pope St. John Paul II on Nov. 29, 2000, and in­stalled on Feb. 27, 2001. Rabiy was ap­pointed by Pope Fran­cis as aux­il­iary bishop on Aug. 8, 2017. A priest of the archep­archy when the ap­point­ment was made, Rabiy was or­dained to the epis­co­pacy by His Beat­i­tude Svi­atoslav Shevchuk in St. Ge­orge Ukrainian Catholic Cathe­dral in Lviv, Ukraine, on Sept. 3, 2017.

The Philadel­phia Archep­archy in­cludes the District of Columbia, Vir­ginia, Mary­land, Delaware, New Jer­sey and parts of eastern Penn­syl­va­nia.

It has a to­tal Catholic pop­u­la­tion of 12,846.

Soroka made fre­quent vis­its to the archep­archy’s South An­thracite Pro­to­pres­bytery, which in­cludes all of Schuylkill County and por­tions of Northum­ber­land, Columbia and Luzerne coun­ties. His most re­cent visit with Rabiy was on March 29 at Ss. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Mount Carmel to cel­e­brate the Ves­per Divine Li­turgy of St. Basil the Great on Holy and Great Thurs­day. He also reg­u­larly at­tended the an­nual Ukrainian Sem­i­nary Day event at St. Nicholas Grove, Prim­rose.

The Very Rev. Arch­priest John M. Fields, archep­archy di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, said when ap­pointed, the new arch­bishop will also be­come the new met­ro­pol­i­tan.

“The per­son who is Ukrainian Catholic arch­bishop of Philadel­phia is also met­ro­pol­i­tan of the prov­ince, which in­cludes, besides the Philadel­phia Archep­archy, the Eparchy of Stam­ford, Conn., Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago, and Eparchy of St. Jos­aphat in Parma, Ohio,” Fields said.

Soroka re­leased a state­ment on Mon­day about his res­ig­na­tion.

“Our heart­felt ap­pre­ci­a­tion is ex­tended to His Ho­li­ness, Pope Fran­cis, and to His Emi­nence Leonardo Car­di­nal San­dri, Pre­fect of the Con­gre­ga­tion for the Ori­en­tal Churches, and to His Beat­i­tude Svi­atoslav Shevchuk for their un­der­stand­ing and com­pas­sion,” Soroka said. “We are also grate­ful to the Holy Fa­ther for the con­fi­dence he has shown in the abil­i­ties of Most Rev. An­driy Rabiy in ap­point­ing him as Apos­tolic Ad­min­is­tra­tor for the in­terim.

“I take this op­por­tu­nity to ex­tend my heart­felt grat­i­tude to the clergy, re­li­gious, sem­i­nar­i­ans and laity of the Ukrainian Catholic Archep­archy of Philadel­phia. These past 17 years have been filled with many chal­lenges and bless­ings, some unique in the ex­pe­ri­ence of the Philadel­phia Archep­archy. Suc­cess in re­spond­ing to the vary­ing needs of the archep­archy and its parishes was achieved with the pos­i­tive and hope­ful par­tic­i­pa­tion of clergy, re­li­gious and laity en­abled by the Grace of God. Most grat­i­fy­ing to me was the per­sonal jour­ney of prayer and fra­ter­nity ex­pe­ri­enced with the clergy, re­li­gious and faith­ful of the Archep­archy. The high­light of my min­istry in lead­er­ship was ex­pe­ri­enced when amidst parish­ioners and their min­is­ters in par­ish litur­gi­cal cel­e­bra­tions, vis­its, pil­grim­ages, fes­ti­vals and in per­sonal shar­ing. I was in­spired by the ded­i­ca­tion of the clergy, re­li­gious and faith­ful and their love for their Church.”

Soroka con­tin­ued, “I am also es­pe­cially grate­ful for the fra­ter­nity and co­op­er­a­tion shared with my brother bish­ops of USA, with whom com­mon needs of clergy, re­li­gious and faith­ful were ad­dressed in our reg­u­lar meet­ings, and in gath­er­ings of our Church. The Grace of God pro­vided richly in our many shared en­deav­ors.

“The Risen Christ greeted his apos­tles with the words, ‘Peace be with you!’ May the peace of­fered by the Risen Christ char­ac­ter­ize our con­tin­ued love and ser­vice of our Ukrainian Catholic Church. Let us re­mem­ber one an­other in prayer as we seek the in­ter­ces­sion of the Mother of God in this time of tran­si­tion be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced within the Ukrainian Catholic Archep­archy of Philadel­phia and in our Ukrainian Catholic Church in the USA. Christ is Risen!”

Ac­cord­ing to a re­lease from the United States Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops, Rabiy was born Oct. 1, 1975, in Lviv, Ukraine. He pur­sued sem­i­nary stud­ies at St. Jos­aphat Ukrainian Catholic Sem­i­nary in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and was or­dained a priest in De­cem­ber 2001 by Soroka at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathe­dral of the Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion in Philadel­phia.

Soroka was born on Nov. 13, 1951, in Win­nipeg, Prov­ince of Man­i­toba, Canada. He re­ceived a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in so­cial work and a master’s in so­cial work from the Univer­sity of Man­i­toba. His sem­i­nary for­ma­tion was un­der­taken at St. Jos­aphat Ukrainian Catholic Sem­i­nary. At the Catholic Univer­sity of Amer­ica, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., he earned a bach­e­lor of sa­cred the­ol­ogy and a doc­tor­ate in so­cial work in 1985. He was or­dained a priest on June 13, 1982, for the Ukrainian Catholic Archep­archy of Win­nipeg at Ss. Vladimir and Olga Cathe­dral, Win­nipeg.

JoHN e. UsALis / stAff Writer

Met­ro­pol­i­tan-Arch­bishop Ste­fan Soroka, cen­ter, is greeted at the en­trance to St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Saint Clair for the 50th an­niver­sary of the or­di­na­tion to the holy priest­hood of Mon­signor My­ron Grabowsky, left in green vest­ments, in June 2017.

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