Ukrainian Byzantine Rite
The Ukrainian Catholic Rite
Ukrainian Catholicism is one of 22 Eastern Catholic Rites within one Catholic Church. The Eastern Catholic Churches have their own hierarchy, system of governance (synods) and general law, the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches. All are in full communion with the Holy See and recognize the Pope as the successor of St. Peter. All the rites of the Catholic Church are of equal dignity and equally valid. Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter, Orientale Lumen - "The Light of the East," asked all Catholics to increase their awareness of the rich spiritual traditions of the Eastern Catholic Churches.
Byzantine Family of Liturgical Rites
The Ukrainian rite is part of the Byzantine family of Liturgical rites. The Church of Constantinople became the political and religious center of the Roman Empire after the Emperor Constantine built his new capital there (324–330) on the site of the ancient town of Byzantium. The Byzantine liturgy is based on the Liturgy of St. James, developed for the Antiochaian church. St. Basil (329 - 379) and St. John Chrysostom (344 - 407) modified St James liturgy.
The Byzantine rites are typically divided along national lines.
In the Ukrainian rite, the liturgical languages are old Slavonic and the vernacular.
Legend states when the apostle, Saint Andrew reached the hills of Kiev, he blessed them and foretold a great city would be built on them. He is called the Apostle of Rus-Ukraine.
Saints Cyril and Methodius, apostles to the Slavs, influenced the cultural development of all Slavs and invented the Cyrillic alphabet. They translated the Gospels, the psalter and liturgical books into Slavonic.
The Kievan Prince, Volodymyr the Great, proclaimed Christianity as the official religion of Ukraine in 988. At this time, Ukraine was known as Kyivan Rus', Kyivan state or Principality of Kyiv. Byzantium sent missionary clergy to minister to the new Christian nation. The clergy introduced Byzantine art and literature. Prince Volodymyr built schools and churches. His son, Yaroslav the Wise, dedicated Ukraine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1037.
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was liquidated by Stalin's regime and forcibly united with the Russian Orthodox Church after World War Two. Regardless of the fact that it was officially forbidden and harshly persecuted, this Church preserved its hierarchical structures in the underground and diaspora, and in December 1989 it requested official legalization.
Pope John Paul II visited Ukraine June 23 - 27, 2001. During his visit, he beatified 27 martyrs and 3 other Servants of God. He also blessed the new Ukrainian Catholic University.
The Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States
The first Ukrainian settlements were established in the United States in the 19th century. The settlers had a deep devotion to God and a strong attachment to their rite. They wanted a place of worship where they could pray according to their rite.
In 1884, a group of Ukrainian coal miners from Shenandoah, Pennslyvania, asked the Metropolitan Archbishop Sylvester Sembratovich to send them a priest. On December 19, 1884, the Reverend Ivan Volansky offered the first Divine Liturgy on US soil.
Father Volansky established many parishes and built churches throughout the United States.
Today, the Ukrainian Catholic Church has a Metropolitan Archdiocese in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and 3 dioceses or eparchys in the United States. Saint Constantine's is part of the Eparchy of Saint Nicholas.
Greek Catholic Church (UGCC)