About our church

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The Ukrainian Catholic Church is an Eastern or Oriental Rite Church in full communion with the Holy See of Rome.

Eastern Christianity was established in Ukraine in 988, by Prince Volodymyr of Kyiv in the Byzantine-Slavic tradition, as the national religion of Ukraine. He welcomed missionaries from the Byzantine Empire sent by the Patriarch of Constantinople. In the 11 th Century the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople (Orthodox) severed ties with one another and the Church in Ukraine followed.

In 1595, the Ukrainian Hierarchy met in Synod at the council in Brest-Litovsk and it was at this time the Hierarchy agreed to re-establish communion with Rome. The traditional Eastern Rite of the Kievan Church was thus preserved and its ethnic, cultural and ecclesial existence was guaranteed. Confirmed at the Council of Brest in 1596, thus began the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church as an institution.

The first Ukrainian Catholic Church was established in North America in Shenandoah, PA. in 1884 under the spiritual guidance of Rev. John Wolansky. Today, the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States has a Metropolitan Archeparchial see in Philadelphia, PA and three Eparchies – Stamford, CT., Chicago, IL., Parma, OH. The Ukrainian Catholic Church is the largest Eastern Catholic Church with over five (5) million faithful.

Differences between Ukrainian Catholicism and Roman Catholicism range from minor to significant. Ukrainian Catholics cross themselves from right to left, not left to right; Holy Communion is always distributed directly into the mouths of communicants by a priest using a spoon; and married Ukrainian Catholic men can be ordained as priests or deacons. However, unmarried clergy may not marry and widowed clergy may not remarry.

Ukrainian Catholics celebrate their faith with the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great, which are quite different from the Roman Catholic Mass as reformed by the Second Vatican Council. Roman Catholics may also notice the absence of the Filioque ("and the Son") during the Profession of Faith – the Creed. All Eastern Catholic Churches use the original version of the Creed of the Council of Nicea without the added words.

Outside of the U.S. and western Canada, many Ukrainian Catholics, especially those in Ukraine, follow the Julian ("Old") Calendar as opposed to the Gregorian ("New") Calendar. The latter is used by the Western Churches—Catholic and Protestant—and in all civil societies. In these ways and others, Ukrainian Catholics may seem more Eastern Orthodox than Roman Catholic.

All Catholics, regardless of their own Catholic Church, may receive Holy Communion in Ukrainian Catholic churches.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church is led by His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Galicia.