Ukrainian Catholic National Pilgrimage in Canberra: From History to the Present

March 10, 2024

32 years ago, on March 7–8, 1992, the first Pilgrimage of the faithful of the Melbourne Eparchy of Sts. Peter and Paul to Canberra under the slogan “Ukrainian Youth for Christ” took place. This year, the church of St. Volodymyr is again waiting for pilgrims.

Ukrainian Catholic National Pilgrimage in Canberra: From History to the Present

“Let’s make every effort to bring as many of our young people as possible, organised in CYM and Plast and unorganised from Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, and at least delegations from Perth, Newcastle, Wollongong, and Brisbane.” Bishop Ivan Prasko addressed the priests with these words when organising the first pilgrimage of Ukrainian Catholics to Canberra in 1992. Then, in response to the bishop’s call, pilgrims from all over Australia, as well as youth choirs from Melbourne and Sydney, came to Canberra.

The participants of the pilgrimage prayed together, had thematic talks, a concert of Ukrainian choirs, and the culmination of the pilgrimage was the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday, March 8, led by Bishop Ivan Prasko in concelebration with Fr. Ivan Szewciw, Fr. Volodymyr Volochiy, Fr. Peter Struk, Fr. Paul Berezniuk, and Deacon Zdan Kolomyjec. In the newspaper “Church and Life” we find the following lines about this remarkable day: “The Holy Liturgy was celebrated in the open air… A touching homily on the theme of ‘Cheese-fare Sunday’ was delivered by Fr. Peter Struk. Many of the faithful received the Holy Communion… The Bishop gave a short homily in which he noted that last year the Ukrainian Youth for Christ (Europe) made a pilgrimage to Jasna Góra in Poland, and this year the Ukrainian Youth for Christ (Australia) made a pilgrimage to Canberra.” The pilgrimage took place against the backdrop of a national upsurge in the first year of Ukraine’s independence and, according to the organisers, was intended to be a symbol of spiritual unity with our church and people in their native lands.

For the second year in a row, in a difficult time for the entire Ukrainian people, when we are in great need of spiritual growth and a sense of unity to fight together for peace and victory for Ukraine, our Eparchy revives a tradition and organises a pilgrimage to Canberra. Taking care of the spiritual welfare of the faithful in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania, on December 12, 2023, Bishop Mykola Bychok, Eparch of Melbourne, officially proclaimed the Church of St. Volodymyr in Canberra as the place of annual pilgrimage for the faithful of the Melbourne Eparchy of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Last year, on June 10–11, 2023, pilgrims from all over Australia, clergy and faithful, gathered for a joint prayer in Canberra for the first time after a long break. For many participants, it was a time of special spiritual experience and a manifestation of unity and support for Ukraine.

This year’s Ukrainian Catholic National Pilgrimage to Canberra under the slogan “O Most Holy Theotokos, save us” will be held on June 8–9. The programme includes Liturgies, prayers, activities, workshops, and a vatra. During the Pilgrimage there will be an opportunity for a spiritual conversation with a priest and the opportunity to go to the Holy Mystery (Sacrament) of Confession. So, we sincerely invite you to register here: q72 WLx4 MJUmGS8.

In preparation for the pilgrimage, on March 7, the Eparchial Pastoral Council, headed by the Synkellos for Laity, Fr. Andriy Mykytyuk, organised an online meeting during which participants could learn more about what a pilgrimage is, why St. Volodymyr’s Church in Canberra is a place of pilgrimage, and get answers to many other questions related to the pilgrimage. Since not everyone had the opportunity to participate in the online meeting, in our next publications we will tell more about the idea of pilgrimage, about indulgence, and about the relics kept in St. Volodymyr’s Church in Canberra.

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