NEW MEMORANDUM – APRIL 1, 2020
Memorandum of theBishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States of AmericaRegarding Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter celebrationsduring the COVID-19 pandemic
Dear beloved clergy, religious, and faithful!
Christ is among us!
In order to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus the civil and health authorities in our country have extended the “Stay at Home Order” until the end of April 2020. Out of deep concern for the spiritual and physical well-being of all persons —we the bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in America urge you at this crucial time to enter more deeply into the very heart of our Christian faith while following the directives of civil authorities. We ask you to celebrate the great mysteries of our salvation in Christ’s Death and Resurrection at home. Together with you, we recognize the sacrifice we are all called to make by being physically distanced from the Holy Week and Pascha services in church and from one another.
Trusting in the graces flowing from the celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord, we remain mindful that paschal joy has its source in a personal encounter with the Risen Christ. What did it take for Mary Magdalene’s tears to give way to Easter joy? Nothing less than meeting the risen Christ! The Easter Gospel is not only about Christ’s passage from death to life, but also about the encounter Mary has with the Lord. Jesus meets us – calls us by name, opens our eyes, and invites us to see him and be with and in Him in the Resurrection. No matter where we are or what may be happening in our lives, precisely in the midst of a deathly crisis such as the present pandemic, we are called to spiritual joy through the love of God who conquers death by death and gives eternal life.
We encourage you to participate as fully as you can in Holy Week and Pascha services by way of radio, television or live-streamed broadcasts. We encourage all the faithful to turn to the Church’s treasury of prayer, praying individually or as a family in the domestic church. Christ is truly among us!
We request the clergy to continue Holy Week and Pascha services without the physical presence of the body of the faithful: 1. The faithful can participate in the celebration of Divine Liturgies and the Blessing of Wil-lows and Easter Baskets via live-streamed services.The blessing pronounced in our churches will extend to the respective items in our homes. The prayer of blessing is the key element in these sacramental rituals. The faithful who have holy water in their homes may sprinkle it on these items while participating in the prayer via internet or by saying the prayers of blessing alone or together as a family or household.
2. The Great Friday Vespers with the placement of the Holy Shroud and Resurrection Matins services ought to take place within the church with no processions. The procession with the Holy Shroud can take place around the holy altar, and the opening rituals of Resurrection Matins can be conducted in front of the royal doors of the iconostasis instead of at the outside church doors.
3. The faithful can continue to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession on an individual basis.Priests should indicate to parishioners when and where they are available for confessions maintaining the prescribed safe distance between priest and penitent. When confession is not possible, faithful are encouraged to make Acts of Perfect Contrition, when a penitent sincerely regrets his or her sins, not merely out of fear of God’s just punishment, but because of having offended our Loving Lord. This year, the canonical obligation of going to confession in the season of Easter can be fulfilled in the time period extending to the feast of Pentecost.
Our beloved faithful, one day soon, an announcement will be made that we can celebrate the Divine Liturgy and other services all together again. We look forward to that joyous day. We will appreciate seeing each other more than ever, giving thanks for God’s gift of communion in the Church, the Body of Christ of which we are members!
Our fervent prayer is that our Resurrected and Living Lord may bestow his peace and grace upon you and your loved ones, upon our community, our nation and the world! Please join us in praying for all who are suffering from the Coronavirus, for all health care workers and first responders, and for an easing of the anxiety and tension caused by this pandemic. Relying on the care of the Mother of God and the Mother of us all, we unite our sufferings to those of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and we place our hope and trust in His glorious Resurrection.
The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
+ Borys GudziakArchbishop of Philadelphia for UkrainiansMetropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States
+ Paul Chomnycky, OSBMEparch of Stamford + Вenedict AleksiychukEparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago
+ Bohdan J. Danylo Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma + Andriy RabiyAuxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
Given on April 1, 2020Metropolitan Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia, PA
Memorandum of the bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States of America regarding of the COVID-19 pandemic
“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt. 25, 40)
Dear clergy, religious, and faithful!
Responding to the outbreak of the global pandemic virus COVID-19, which has been spreading with lightning speed across the globe, we, bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States, united in solidarity, wish to address you with assurances of our joint prayers and efforts. Bound together in our care for the spiritual and physical health of our faithful, we would like to inform you about certain norms and practices intended to confirm us in faith and truth, safeguarding all members of our communities, especially the most vulnerable, and preventing the spread of disease.
Keeping in mind the fragility of human life and acknowledging with humility the limits of human reason and resources, we are called to do all that is possible to help the national government, local authorities, and medical personnel to fight the spread of the virus.
Medical workers and scientists are unanimous in warning that this fight will be protracted, one that will require the solidarity of all people across the globe. The speed of transportation and the globalization of today’s world facilitate the spread of the virus. But the quality of our interpersonal relations and our solidarity—and it is Christ who grants these gifts—are able to slow down the contagion that takes more and more lives every day. The experience of the countries that squarely faced the consequences of the virus and acted quickly and decisively shows that it is possible.
“Love your neighbor!” These times call us to faith in God, trust in each other, focused efforts, solidarity and coordinated actions. Love, we know, entails closeness, even intimacy. In today’s circumstances, however, a certain distance may be the proper expression of interpersonal love and civic responsibility. Thus, the Ukrainian Catholic Church supports governmental regulations and public health measures connected with the pandemic. We ask you, our dear faithful, to follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and take care of your personal safety and hygiene as well as of those around you.
Christ is in our midst! Unfortunately, the necessary public health norms on social distancing, including restrictions on public meetings, make it impossible for the Church to carry on our usual rhythms. At the same time, despite the difficult situation, the Church does not stop Her activity and service. We are called to be creative in living our communion. We Christians continue to bear witness to the presence of God in the created world, to His action in the life of all people, to His love for every person. It is the hour to show our love and care for the elderly in our communities, who today are most at risk and for all who experience social isolation.
These times of trial are a unique opportunity to manifest our love for God and neighbor. Today, when we are limited in public liturgical practices, our life in Christ will be measured by the authentic quality of our personal relationship with God and neighbor: in private and family prayer and in works of charity. In the midst of today’s pandemic caring for one’s neighbor calls for clear and immediate expression.
The experience of our underground Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (1945–1989) is a source of inspiration and faith for us. In recent memory having been deprived of all of its church buildings and all other infrastructure, the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine and elsewhere in the communist world was led by God to find creative ways to foster the spiritual life of its members for two generations. Through excruciating suffering and great losses, our Church was forged, cleansed, and prepared for a new life in a new millennium. Now is the time to prayerfully reflect upon this salvation history. The Lord will guide us again in fortitude and flexibility to praise Him and foster communion and solidarity among us.
1. All weekday and Sunday services will be celebrated temporarily without the participation of the assembly of the faithful. Our clergy will continue to celebrate and pray for you and with you vicariously. We will celebrate the Divine Liturgies and other services in behalf of and for all of you, especially for the sick and the healthcare providers. We will beseech the Lord for wise and prudent decisions on the part of government and medical authorities. We will pray for the eternal repose of the deceased. We are obligating our priests to be steadfast in prayer for their flock. Be as Moses, who raised his hands in prayer so that whole people of God could prevail over the enemy (cf. Ex 17, 11-12).
2. Our churches will remain open for private prayer at designated times. We ask the pastors to guarantee the safety and frequentdisinfection of our churches.
3. We renew and confirm the dispensation from the obligation to participate in Sunday services. At the same time, we ask you to pray as a Domestic Church (as a family or household unit) on Sundays and on Holy Days. We suggest making use of the ZhyveTV and internet resources of your eparchy or parish. Read prayerfully the Holy Scriptures, reflect upon the source and meaning of your life, on God’s love and salvific action on our behalf.
4. We encourage you to make best use of the quarantine time, which coincides with Great Lent, for personal prayer, reading the Word of God, and building a more profound relationship with Our Lord, our neighbors and in our families.
5. We ask that all the Lenten practices — e.g., missions and spiritual exercises — be held with the aid of the internet and other means of social communication.
Sacraments and Sacramentals
1. We kindly ask that you postpone, in consultation with your pastor, the Sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism and Chrismation) and Matrimony.
2. The faithful can avail themselves of the Sacrament of Repentance (Confession) in church, taking all necessary precautions for social distancing.
3. In cases of grave illness or danger of death, priests are obligated to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, while assuring safety for all involved.
4. Priests will celebrate funerals with the participation only of the immediate family members of the deсeased, according to local regulations regarding public assemblies.
1. Dear priests, religious, sisters and brothers! If you feel sick, we urge you to stay at home, call your doctor, and obey all medical and civil regulations.
2. We encourage our pastors to maintain personal contact with their faithful, especially with the elderly and sick by phone and via social media. Our priestly ministry continues without ceasing.
3. Confessions are to take place in the open, not in a confessional. Safety of the penitent and priest must be assured.
4. Frequently sanitize with disinfectant whatever people tend to touch in the churches: pews, door handles, etc.
5. During private prayer in church, maintain a safe distance from each other (6 feet or 2 meters).
6. Venerate icons and the Cross by bowing your head and with a sign of the cross or by prostrations. Do not kiss icons or the Cross.
7. Comply with the guidelines and prescriptions of governmental authorities (town, county, state, federal) regarding public gatherings and personal safety.
These norms are effective immediately after being published on Wednesday, March 19, 2020. We carefully follow developments, consult experts and will update our norms and regulations according to new information and circumstances.
God is calling us to a new and deeper spiritual awareness. We encourage you to stay united in the communion of the Holy Spirit! Pray! Stay vigilant! Sing, smile, and laugh! Exercise and read! Pay attention to your health and help people who are under risk in your family as well as in your neighborhood! Communicate and support each other in spirit and deed!
The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
+ Borys Gudziak
Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians
Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States
+ Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford
+ Вenedict Aleksiychuk
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago
+ Bohdan J. Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma
+ Andriy Rabiy
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
March 19, 2020
from Metropolitan Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia, PA
Following the Bishops directives, as you can read in the Memorandum above, I will continue to celebrate privately all Church Services with scheduled prayer intentions requested by our parishioners. The Family or individual people who requested Divine Liturgies intentions will be notified regarding the date of the service and thus can be united in prayer from their home.
We will be livestreaming the Divine Liturgy via Facebook from the Rectory’s chapel on Sundays. The English Liturgy will be livestreamed on Facebook at 8:30AM and the Ukrainian Liturgy will be at 10:00AM. Those of you who are not familiar with the technology or do not have a Facebook account, ask someone in your family to assist you in watching the Liturgy online. Please like our Facebook page and turn on notifications to be alerted when the live streams begin. Additionally, subscribe to our YouTube channel (St. Peter & Paul UCC) to watch videos of the Liturgy anytime during the day after they stream live.
If you have a difficult personal situation, please let me know by calling the parish office at (315) 252-5573. I will hopefully be able to find people in our parish community who can help you with various needs, such as grocery shopping, picking up medication, etc.
The church will be open for private prayer on Saturdays from 9:00am -11:00am and Sundays from 12:00pm –2:00pm. Please follow the official recommendations for social distancing and hygienic measures.
May our Lord, Jesus Christ, the physician of our souls and bodies, as we pray in the Liturgy, bless all people! May He comfort those throughout the world who suffer from this disease! May God bless us all and the Blessed Virgin protect us through her prayers before God!
Fr. Vasile Colopelnic
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