PHILADELPHIA — In what promises to be one of the most impressive liturgical ceremonies in recent Philadelphia memory, an estimated 50 bishops will be present June 4 in Philadelphia for the enthronement of Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak as head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
The Divine Liturgy and enthronement ceremony for the prelate will take place at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. He will be the seventh metropolitan-archbishop of the archeparchy and as such, he will be the spiritual leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States.
He succeeds Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka who resigned for health reasons in April 2018. Since then, the archeparchy has been led by Bishop Andriy Rabiy, an auxiliary of the archeparchy, as apostolic administrator.
The appointment of Archbishop Gudziak, the 58-year-old native of Syracuse, New York, by Pope Francis was announced Feb. 18 following the recommendation by a synod of Ukrainian Catholic bishops held in September 2018.
The Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide is the largest of the Eastern Catholic churches that have distinctly different liturgies than the Latin Catholic Church but are nevertheless in full communion with Rome.
The enthronement and the inauguration of Archbishop Gudziak’s ministry is really the centerpiece of a weeklong celebration, according to Father John Fields, an archpriest of the archeparchy who is its communications director.
The celebration begins June 2 and centers on the theme “From Heart to Heart.” Participants will include clergy, religious and lay faithful and young people from the Philadelphia archeparchy and other U.S. and international eparchies.
Among the events is the opening that first day of an art exhibit titled “Icons on Ammo Boxes” at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. That evening, also at the cathedral, well-known book author, columnist and commentator George Weigel delivers a lecture “Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Mission: Eastern Catholics and the Universal Church.”
On June 4, there will be a 10 a.m. liturgical procession, which will include bishops from the Ukrainian Catholic Church, other Eastern Catholic churches, the Latin Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as 125 priests, 11 deacons and 70 members of religious orders.
In the cathedral, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide will preside at the Divine Liturgy, along with Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States.
Archbishop Pierre will also present greetings from the Holy Father and present the papal bull, the document confirming Archbishop Gudziak’s appointment.
Among the concelebrants of the liturgy will be Archbishop Gudziak, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop Soroka and other archbishops and bishops.
Archbishop Gudziak, who is the son of immigrants to the United States from Ukraine, received his bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University in 1980 with further studies at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, at Harvard University and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. He returned to Ukraine, his ancestral homeland, in 1992 where he served in various position, mostly in the field of theological education and he is credited as the founder of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1998.
He was ordained to the episcopacy in December 2012, and the following month appointed bishop for a newly formed eparchy covering France, Switzerland and Benelux, which is a region that includes Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
His work especially in his Ukraine years did not go unnoticed in the wider world. In early May, the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, announced that Archbishop Gudziak will receive its prestigious Notre Dame Award at a ceremony in Lviv June 29.
He joins such other distinguished past recipients as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter with his wife, Rosalyn, St. Teresa of Kolkata and John Hume of Northern Ireland.
“In the face of innumerable challenges, Archbishop Gudziak has made the Ukrainian Catholic University a center for cultural thought, Christian witness and the formation of a Ukrainian society based on human dignity,” said Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, at the time of the announcement.