A three-year project “Increase of social responsibility of parishes and their participation in community life at local level” was launched in autumn 2017. The project is focused on promotion of the social service in Ukrainian Greek Catholic parishes through educational programs for parishioners and priesthood, support of small grant proposals and active media support.
One of the project components is “Studios of Vibrant Parish”. It is a modular program on management of social projects for parish representatives, implemented by Lviv Educational Foundation. More than 40 participants from all parts of Ukraine joined the first module of such training Studios, held on February 05-08, 2018 in Briukhovychi village near Lviv.
Diocesan, archdiocesan and exarchate centres all around Ukraine are engaged in the process of enhancing the level of social service. These are Kyiv, Lviv, Stryi, Sokal and Zhovkva, Sambir and Drohobych, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kolomyia and Chernivtsi, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Lutsk, Ternopil, Buchach, Khmelnytskyi, Odesa. The program is implemented by local Caritas centres and priests, responsible for the social service in their region. In general, there are 14 diocesan teams whose members are also lay people.
This year, diocesan teams have already started trainings and seminars in their perishes using “Serve one another in love” guidebook, released by Caritas Ukraine with the support of a humanitarian aid organization Catholic Relief Services (the USA) last year. During 2018, the educational courses will be delivered in 125 parishes, the same amount will be engaged during next two years. Some teams have already presented results of their visits.
In particular, the presentation of the project was carried out at the beginning of February in Ivano-Frankivsk. Archbishop-Metropolitan of Ivano-Frankivsk Volodymyr (Viytyshyn) emphasized that the God would not count our serving unless we as the Church and priesthood serve people in need. He blessed the team of his eparchy and local priesthood on social service development in each parish community of the archdiocese.
At the same time, the social service strategy was presented to Caritas Kyiv staff by the Head of Social Affairs Department of the UGCC, Vice president of Caritas Ukraine, Father Andriy Nahirniak. Kyiv archdiocesan team, whose members are priests Vasyl Chudiyovych and Andriy Bondaruk, has already held first training sessions in the parish community of Saint Boris and Saint Gleb (Kyiv).
The team of Buchach diocese has also visited selected parishes. Inspiring meetings were held in four parish communities. First steps to promote social service were taken in Pidhaitsi and Monastyryska towns and Shveikiv and Ustia Zelene villages in Ternopil region.
The first meeting of Eparchy of Sokal – Zhovkva was held in Rava-Ruska. The responsible person for the social service in the eparchy is Caritas Zhovkva Director, Father Stepan Makar, emphasized that one of the project’s objective is an active participation of religious people in different charitable and volunteer initiatives within their community. Any kind initiative is a particular answer to the scream of their brother or sister in trouble regardless their nationality or religion.
On February 9, 2018, the first educational meeting to enhance social service was carried in the Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral in Strilkiv village (the Eparchy of Stryi). At the end of the meeting, parish administrator Father Zynoviy Myklasevych thanked the diocesan team for their visit and mentioned that together with the congregation he would determine possible directions for social service and analyse urgent needs of the parish and community.
A team of the Archiepiscopal Exarchate of Lutsk, which encompasses Volyn and Rivne regions, started implementation of the project with picturesque Shatsk. This year, training courses will be delivered to lay people from seven parish communities of the exarchate, who live in Polozhev near Shatsk, Kovel, Rozhutsi, Lutsk, Rivne, Zdolbuniv and Novovolynsk.
In February, the team on social service promotion visited volunteers of parish community of the All Saints Church of Ukrainian People in Lviv. The first meeting under the project was held here in Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lviv-Sykhiv) on January 16.
For the Eparchy of Kolomyia-Chernivtsi, the project started not solely with meetings at parishes, but with the conceptual interview with Father Serhiy Tryfiak, responsible for social service in the Eparchy of Kolomyia, for UGCC website. In particular, Father Serhiy highlighted that social service and demonstration of the faith through merciful love are vocation and duty of each Christian: both layman and monk, priest and bishop.
The project is held under the patronage of the Social Service Department of the Patriarchal Curia of the UGCC. Activities are carried out with the financial support of Renovabis, CRS and CNEWA Canada.