Metropolitan Sheptytsky

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(1865-1944)

2004 marked the 60th Anniversary of the death of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky.

On April 24th, 2012 the Parliament of Canada unanimously passed the following motion:

“This House is united in expressing Canada’s recognition of Andrey Sheptytsky’s courageous actions, compassion for his oppressed Jewish Ukrainian countrymen and enduring example of commitment to fundamental human rights as humankind’s highest obligation”

An abbreviated biography prepared on the occasion of Sheptytsky Institute 50th Anniversary Reunion.

1865 – Roman Aleksander Maria Sheptytsky was born July 29 at his family home in Halychyna, Western Ukraine, which at that time was occupied by the Austro-Hungarian empire.

1883-1887 – Studied law at universities in Krakow and Lviv. Prior to entering post-secondary studies he had volunteered for the Austrian military service.

1888 – Received a doctoral degree in law. Roman entered the Basilian monastery near Lviv later that year and professed his vocation and adopted the name Andrey.

1892 – Took monastic vows (August 11) and was ordained to the priesthood (September 3).

1892-1894 – Completed theological studies at the Jesuit Seminary in Krakow, receiving a doctoral degree in Theology.

1899 – Andrey experienced the great honour of being nominated and consecrated in L’viv as Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishop of Stanyslaviv (September 17).

1900-1901 – Bishop Andrey was nominated and installed at St. George’s Cathedral in L’viv as Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archbishop of L’viv (January 17), which is the ranking hierarch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Metropolitan of Halych, and Bishop of Kamianets’-Podil’s’kyi.

1903 – Metropolitan Sheptytsky was appointed member of the House of Lords in the Austrian parliament and to the Imperial Ministerial Council in Vienna (January 2). He also provided funds to establish in L’viv the Narodna Lichnytsia (People’s Clinic).

1905 – Metropolitan Sheptytsky established the Ukrainian National Museum in L’viv. The Metropolitan visited the Holy Land (August) with a group of pilgrims from Moravia. He convened and presided over an eparchial sobor (28-29 December).

1906 – Metropolitan Sheptytsky led an archeparchial pilgrimage to the Holy Land (5-28 September).

1910 – Visited North America where he met with Ukrainian Greek Catholic communities in the United States; attended the twenty-first International Eucharistic Congress in Montreal; and toured Ukrainian communities in Canada, which included a visit to Yorkton. In addition to his dedication to the Catholic church, Metropolitan Sheptytsky was openly supportive of an Orthodox-Catholic reconciliation. He believed that Ukrainian people should work together toward a unified faith in order to strengthen their national identity.

1914-1917 – With the beginning of World War I, the tsarist Russian army invaded Austrian Halychyna. Metropolitan Sheptytsky was arrested and imprisoned in various places in Ukraine and Russia. Revolution in the Russian Empire and the overthrow of the tsar occurred in 1917. The Metropolitan was released in March, and proceeded to St. Petersburg to work among Russia’s Catholics for a few months, returning home to Lviv late in the year.

1918 – Metropolitan Sheptytsky whole heartedly welcomed the declaration of Galician-Ukrainian independence 1 November, 1918 and the establishment of the West Ukrainian People’s Republic. Unfortunately, Ukrainian independence was short-lived as Poland gained control of Ukraine at the end of 1919. The following 3 years, Metropolitan Sheptytsky travelled abroad on behalf of the political and economic status of East Halychyna, allowing the Metropolitan to continue his mission of strengthening the Catholic faith throughout the world

1927 – In Lviv, Metropolitan Sheptytsky assembled the first meeting of all Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and North America.

1928 – Established the Greek Catholic Theological Academy in L’viv.

1930 – The Metropolitan’s health visibly began to deteriorate. However, he remained very dedicated to and active in Ukrainian Catholic leadership. He was clearly interested in the lives of and involved with youth activities as well. He played a substantial role in the festival of Ukrainian Youth for Christ in 1933, – realizing the importance of being with and educating the youth. He firmly believed that Ukraine’s future would be shaped not only by good leadership, but by the youth, deeming it important to teach them the positive aspects of life. Showing his strong sense of patriotism, the Metropolitan issued a pastoral letter against Communism and against Ukrainian participation in Communist-related activity. The Metropolitan organized the first pro-Union Congress in L’viv.

1938 – On the fortieth anniversary of his consecration as Bishop, Metropolitan Sheptytsky was appointed assistant to the Papal throne by Pope Pius XI. The Narodna Lichnytsia, or People’s Clinic, with further financing from Metropolitan Sheptytsky and Ukrainians in North America, was transformed into the Sheptytsky Ukrainian Hospital.

1939-1941 – When the Soviet army occupied Western Ukraine, they closed Ukrainian Catholic churches, destroyed church property and barred the teaching of religion in schools. They could not, however, bring themselves to incarcerate the ailing Metropolitan Sheptytsky. Nevertheless, the Metropolitan continued to display strength and courage by speaking out against the German Nazi forces occupying Western Ukraine at this time. He also helped Jews avoid persecution by allowing them to hide in Ukrainian monasteries. By his actions, he showed Ukrainian people how to be brave and vigilant in the fight against oppression and injustice.

1944 – Metropolitan Sheptytsky died November 1, at age 80, after serving the Church for a total of 56 years. His body lies in a crypt in the basement of St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv.

Metropolitan Sheptytsky saw the need for strong leaders, which is why he became a dedicated supporter of the Ukrainian youth organization PLAST, whose development of good leadership skills is one of its main goals. An excellent role model for youth, Metropolitan Sheptytsky led by example, cultivating leadership skills in all aspects of life, faith, family, community, and country. Through his actions it is clear that good leadership is not limited to one area or interest, but is interwoven in all aspects of life. In today’s world, good models of leadership, like Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, are needed more than ever.

Abbreviated English biography by: Marko Baran, Nissa Baran, Oksana Prokopchuk of Saskatoon Plast Stanytsia, on the occasion of Sheptytsky Institute 50th Anniversary Reunion

The Metropolitan lay calmly with eyes shut and breathed with difficulty, as he had previously. Then he began to pray again. He opened his eyes and began to talk to us:

‘Our Church will be ruined, destroyed by the Bolsheviks, but you will hold on, do not renounce the faith, the Catholic Church. A difficult trial will fall on our Church, but it is passing. I see the rebirth of our Church, it will be more beautiful, more glorious than of old, and it will embrace all our people. Ukraine,’ the metropolitan continued, “will rise again from her destruction and will become a mighty state, united, great, comparable to other highly-developed countries. Peace, wellbeing, happiness, high culture, mutual love and harmony will rule here. It will all be as I say. It is only necessary to pray that the Lord God and the Mother of God will care for our poor tired people, who have suffered so much, and that God’s care will last forever.’

From an interview with Fr. Yosyf Kladochnyi about Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky’s last moments of earthly life.