Faith in the face of war

New head of Ukrainian Orthodox Church ready to meet challenges, embrace newcomers fleeing conflict


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As the new primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada formally takes office today, he plans to encourage parishioners across the country to keep the faith in challenging times.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/11/2022 (190 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As the new primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada formally takes office today, he plans to encourage parishioners across the country to keep the faith in challenging times.

Despite declining membership and slow recovery after pandemic restrictions, Metropolitan Ilarion finds hope in the response of Canadians to Ukrainians displaced by war.

“We see the evidence of God’s love in how people in the world, and particularly in Canada, are responding to the plight of Ukrainian people that are affected by war and are seeking refuge here in Canada,” he wrote in an email exchange.


Metropolitan Ilarion, formerly of Edmonton, is taking over the highest office of the Winnipeg-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.

“This is a sign and a reminder that God is with us; He works through each and every one of us. “

The former Roman Rudnyk, who took on the name Ilarion when he entered a Greek monastery in 1997, is scheduled to be enthroned as the new primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada in a public ceremony at 9:30 a.m. today at Holy Trinity Metropolitan Cathedral, 1175 Main St. He also takes on the titles of Metropolitan of Canada and Archbishop of Winnipeg and the Central Eparchy.

The two-hour liturgy, held in both English and Ukrainian, will be broadcast online to allow parishioners across Canada to witness the installation of the seventh primate in the denomination’s 104-year-old history in Canada, says Rev. Cornell Zubritsky of Edmonton, who is organizing the service.

“That will be the first enthronement we are live-streaming in our history,” says Zubristky, who served in a Winnipeg parish for nearly a decade.

Metropolitan Ilarion succeeds Metropolitan Yurij Kalistchuk, who retired due to health reasons in July 2021 after 11 years in office. The new primate served in an interim capacity until his election to the office last summer.

Priests in the Ukrainian Orthodox tradition are allowed to marry, but bishops are chosen from monastic clergy, explains Zubritsky. The Ukrainian-born Ilarion, 50, was ordained to the priesthood in 2000 and served a parish in Portugal before being ordained as Bishop of Telmissos in 2005. Three years later, he moved to Canada to become Bishop of Edmonton.

During the ceremony, the new primate will be taken up to a platform at the front of the church to the bishop’s chair or throne, and presented with the symbols of office, says Zibritsky. As the primate, he will now wear a white hat instead of the black hat worn by priests.

As he takes over the highest office in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, Bishop Ilarion says he intends to tend to the spiritual health of his flock as the denomination regains its footing after pandemics restrictions and welcomes Ukrainians to Canada.

“My belief is that challenges we face individually and as the church are here to make us examine our heart, examine our faith, and to embrace our faith as our utmost treasure,” he wrote.

The recent influx of Ukrainians to Canada has increased attendance at parishes in both the Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic churches, says Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada. About 12,000 Ukrainians have relocated to Manitoba in recent months.

“They come for the (worship) service, and they stay around to socialize,” he says of the impact the newcomers have made in some Ukrainian-speaking parishes.

Ukrainian Catholics in Winnipeg will also experience some changes in leadership with the recent appointment of Bishop Andriy Rabiy, formerly of Philadelphia, to the position of auxiliary bishop of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg.

Ukrainian Catholics are in full communion with Rome, while Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada is part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

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Brenda Suderman

Brenda Suderman
Faith reporter

Brenda Suderman has been a columnist in the Saturday paper since 2000, first writing about family entertainment, and about faith and religion since 2006.

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