Pastoral Appeal regarding transition to the Gregorian Calendar
March 29, 2023
From September 1, 2023, the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Australia will transit to the Gregorian calendar. In his pastoral message to the faithful of the Melbourne Eparchy, Bishop Mykola explains the need for these changes.
to the faithful of the Eparchy of the Saints Apostles Peter and Paul for Ukrainian Catholics in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania regarding transition to the Gregorian Calendar
Following the move by our Mother Church in Ukraine that was announced on 6th February to move to the Gregorian Calendar from the 1st September 2023, our Eparchy of Saints Peter and Paul is also transitioning to the Gregorian Calendar on the same day. Unlike the Church in Ukraine, we shall also be moving the Easter calendar or “movable feasts” to the New Calendar.
For many years, there have been debates and discussions, at times heated and emotional, about a change to the Gregorian Calendar, within our Eparchy. It was often said by my predecessor and pioneer of our Church in Australia Bishop Ivan (Prasko), of blessed memory, that, “we will change when Ukraine changes.” Bishop Peter (Stasiuk) made allowances in the Eparchial Statutes for parishes to change the calendar after a vote of parishioners and consent of the Eparch. Three parishes and some parish missions were considering making such a change at the time of the promulgation of my decree of the 22nd March 2023. However, our Church in Ukraine decided to change first, so we were left with little choice than to follow the example set by her and to go one step further by changing the date of the Easter calendar to suit our needs in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania.
Change is never easy. His Beatitude Patriarch Sviatoslav in his video statement regarding the calendar said, “Do not be afraid of change! We want our Ukraine to be different. We declare that it must become better than it was before the war. This means that we must change first. So let us change! Do not be afraid to become different, better.”
Our situation in Australia is very different from the situation in Ukraine, however we are united with Ukraine in an unbreakable bond of love. We are one Church, and our change of calendar is a sign of unity with our Mother Church. Ukraine will be working on changing the date of Easter by 2025 together with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The change of calendar is not an attack on “tradition”. We understand that the emotional attachment to the past remains. But the calendar is not tradition, it is a mathematical and astronomical calculation. By transitioning to the new calendar, we are not giving up anything, in fact it is a way of making our traditions more relevant in Australia today. To help us gain a better understanding about calendar reform in the Eparchy, the Liturgical Committee has organised an online information session for the faithful in Ukrainian and English on ZOOM. During these sessions, Father Andriy Mykytyuk and Father Simon Ckuj, will explain in more detail what this change involves and answer all questions regarding the transition to the new calendar. The Sessions will take place on 17 May 2023 at 8.00 pm (English) and 18 May 2023 at 8.00 pm (Ukrainian). All times are Eastern Standard Time. Details of these sessions will be provided later on the official website, social media and parish bulletins.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, we are called to accept in humility the directions that have been given by the church. This historical change requires us to have an open and humble heart. May we continue to work together in discovering new ways to live our lives as Ukrainian Catholics in our large Eparchy, growing in our understanding of what are the Sacred Traditions of our Church and making the new calendar work for us.
I pray that you have a blessed Pascha!
The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
† MYKOLA BYCHOK, CSsR
Eparch of Melbourne
Given in Melbourne,
at our Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul,
on the 29th day of March, in the Year of Our Lord 2023,
the Holy Martyrs Sabinus and Papas