Former Bishops of the Eparchy of Melbourne
Most Rev. Peter Stasiuk CSsR AM
Bishop Peter Stasiuk was born on 16 July 1943 near the Canadian town of Roblin, Manitoba, Canada, to a family of farmers originally from the Ternopil region, who were representatives of the first wave of emigration to Canada. His father, Michael, emigrated from Ukraine when he was a small child, and his mother, Catherine, was born in Canada. In addition to him, there were five more children in the family. He grew up in a devout Ukrainian Catholic family in a Ukrainian neighbourhood.
After finishing the 9th grade of school, he entered the College of St. Volodymyr, which at the time was the Minor Seminary of the Redemptorist Fathers. Peter Stasiuk completed his studies at this college in 1960. From childhood, he dreamed of working with people as a priest. Having completed his studies at High School he entered the novitiate of the Redemptorist Fathers. He took his first monastic vows on August 28, 1962, and lifelong vows on August 28, 1965.
He received his theological education at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa. In addition, he studied French and Ukrainian languages at universities in Ottawa and Tours (France).
Peter Stasiuk received his priestly ordination on 2 July 1967 in the Church of St. Joseph in Winnipeg from the hands of Archbishop and Metropolitan Maksym Hermanyuk, CSsR.
From 1967 to 1975, he served in the parish of the Most Holy Redeemer in the town of Roblin. At the same time and for the next seven years, he worked as the deputy director of his school St. Volodymyr’s, as well as a hockey coach and teacher of religious studies.
From 1975 to 1978, he became an assistant priest of the parish of the Most Sacred Heart in Itoona, Saskatoon, and from 1978 to 1981, he was the pastor of the parish of the Holy Eucharist in the city of Toronto.
In 1981, Fr. Peter was appointed Director at St. Volodymyr’s College, and he served in this position until 1993.
On 16 December 1992, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II appointed Fr. Peter Stasiuk, CSsR, bishop for Ukrainian Greek Catholics living in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. On March 9, 1993, his episcopal ordination took place in Sts. Volodymyr and Olha’s Cathedral in Winnipeg with Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk CSsR as principal consecrator, and Metropolitan Stefan Sulyk of Philadelphia and Bishop Myron Daciuk OSBM of Edmonton, as co-consecrators.
On 2 May 1993, the enthronement of the new bishop took place in the Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Melbourne. “When the message came from Rome to go to Australia, I waited for a week, called the nuncio, refused, but then I agreed, because this is obedience and this is what the vocation consists of,” said Bishop Peter.
Bishop Peter had never been to Australia before, he did not know how the local Ukrainians lived: “I have never been to Australia, I more or less knew where it is, but I had no idea about the situation in Australia. I came to Australia at the age of 49 and already had a lot of practice in parishes, a certain idea about the essence of the church and what it means to be a church. Of course, there were certain cultural misunderstandings, because I am from Canada, and the emigration here is 70 years younger than the Canadian one. What helped me was that in Canada I saw what happens to a community that has a longer history of settlement.”
Bishop Peter Stasiuk founded the “Ukrainian Youth for Christ” movement in Australia. He promulgated the first Eparchial Statutes. He was a member of the Ecumenical Committee and secretary of the Immigration Committee for the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, as well as deputy chairman of Caritas Australia. He also served a term as Episcopal Delegate to Stella Maris Australia.
In 2009, the Australian government awarded him the Medal of the Order of Australia for his significant achievements.
From 2008, for ten years, Bishop Peter was Chairman of the Patriarchal Catechetical Commission, and from September 2013 to September 2018, chaired the Office of the Maritime Apostolate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Concluding his service as the Chair of the Catechetical Commission, Bishop Peter said, “25 years ago I was elected a bishop. At that time, it was difficult, because there were no modern books or publications for catechising. So, we were looking for ways to move forward… Two years later, Sr. Luisa Ciupa, SSMI, deputy head of the Patriarchal Catechetical Commission of the UGCC, came from Brazil to work. We convened a congress of catechists from all over the world, which took place in Rudno in 1995. More than a hundred of the best catechists of that time gathered at this event. One of the ideas generated was the necessity to write a general Catechism of the UGCC. It is worth noting that we implemented all the ideas from that congress within several years. We worked on it for 10 years and had many meetings of catechists, theologians and other specialists of our Church.”
On January 15 2020, Pope Francis appointed Father Mykola Bychok as third bishop of the Melbourne Eparchy of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, having previously accepted the resignation of Bishop Peter Stasiuk having reached the age of 75.
Most Rev. Ivan Prasko DSEO MBE
Ivan Prasko was born on 1 May 1914, three months before the start of the First World War. He was the only son of simple townspeople Vasyl and Maria Prasko, in the city of Zbaraz, Ternopil region, Ukraine.
He received his primary education in his hometown of Zbaraz and at a Polish High School. “There were only 42 Ukrainians out of 500 students. Therefore, from an early age I felt the power of discrimination, the depth of humiliation that Ukrainians had to endure in their native land,” recalled Bishop Ivan.
At school the young Ivan was greatly influenced by the Greek-Catholic catechist Fr. Joseph Kodelsky. Ivan Prasko grew spiritually both in conversations with this clergyman and during his visits to Zarvanytsia. He was a keen footballer for the Zbaraz team and even rode a bicycle to Lviv (150 km away).
In 1934 he began his seminary studies and became a student of Philosophy at the Lviv Theological Academy, where he listened to the lectures of the Father-Rector and the future long-term prisoner of the Soviet gulag and the Patriarch of the UCC, Fr Josyf Slipyj.
In 1937, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky sent the future bishop to the Pontifical Ukrainian College of St Josephat and to study at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. On 2 April 1939, he received priestly ordination from the hands of Bishop Dionysius Naradi in the College Chapel. During his time in Rome, Fr. Prasko went on to study at the Pontifical Oriental Institute where in 1944, he defended his thesis “The Ruthenian Catholic Church at the time of the vacant throne, 1655–1665” he received a doctorate in “Oriental Sciences” DSEO.
During the difficult years of the Second World War, Fr Prasko was also involved in the “Auxiliary Committee in Italy”, visiting captured soldiers of the Galicia division in a camp in Rimini (Italy) and Ukrainians in camps for soldiers who served in General Anders’ army. He helped many of them adjust to post-war life. They were mostly young people aged 25–35. Fr Ivan worked closely with Bishop Ivan Buchko, the “pastor of refugees”. He also served as a chaplain to the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate often riding a bicycle the considerable distance to the sisters convent.
In 1950, Fr. Ivan Prasko volunteered to work in Australia, where for eight years he performed pastoral duties among the Ukrainian faithful in Victoria and Tasmania. During these years, he founded many church communities, contributed to the construction of churches, organised Ukrainian Saturday schools and a number of church-community associations — Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods.
In 1958, following a visitation by Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk CSsR, His Holiness Pope Pius XII established the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian Catholics in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. He appointed Rev Dr Ivan Prasko as the first Exarch and titular bishop of Zigris.
On 19 October 1958, Fr. Ivan Prasko received episcopal consecration from the hands of Metropolitan Maksym Hermanyuk CSsR, Archbishop Ivan Buchko and Bishop Isidor Boretskey in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne.
Bishop Ivan quickly set to work building up the new exarchate. Within days of his consecration, the foundation stones of the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul and well as St Andrew’s, Sydney was blessed. It was a time of building Churches and communities albeit with few priests and resources.
The bishop also participated in the sessions of the Second Vatican Council and formed a close working relationship with the bishops of Australia as well as Ukrainian bishops scattered thought the world. It was during the Second Session of Vatican II that his former Rector Joseph Slipyi, released after 18 years in Soviet Gulags, met Bishop Ivan. This relationship was to have a lasting impact. Bishop Ivan’s devotion to the Head and Father of the Ukrainian Church were well known.
Bishop Prasko was committed to the Ukrainian Catholic Patriarchate and served as a member of the first Permanent Synod established by Patriarch Joseph.
In 1967 Bishop Ivan invited the Sisters of St Basil the Great to work in the Exarchate, establishing the first convent in Sydney and subsequently in Melbourne and Adelaide.
In 1982, the Australian Exarchate was raised to the level of an Eparchy. The hard work and merits of Bishop Ivan were also recognized by secular authorities — on January 1, 1982, he was awarded the Member of Order of the British Empire (MBE).
Bishop Ivan often visited Ukraine. In 1967, 1973, 1979, 1984, 1988, 1991 and 1992, and in every possible way supported his native land. It is known that during these visits, Bishop Prasko undertook secret pastoral work, visiting underground bishops and priests at a time of persecution. It was indeed fitting that he accompanied his old friend from seminary, Patriarch Myroslav Ivan when he returned to Ukraine in 1991.
Bishop Prasko was a member of the Saint Sophia Roman Catholic Religious Society and was an active member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Ukrainian Historical Society.
On 16 December 1992, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II appointed Fr. Peter Stasiuk, CSsR, bishop for Ukrainian Greek Catholics living in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. At the same time Bishop Ivan’s resignation was accepted having reached the age of 75 several years earlier. In retirement, Bishop Ivan continued to live near the cathedral that he built and for as long as his health allowed, he continued to be a pastor and priest to his people.
On 28 January 2001, Bishop Ivan ended his earthly ministry having been a priest for 61 years and a bishop for 42 years. His funeral was celebrated by the newly elected Patriarch Lubomyr Husar, for who Bishop Ivan was a co-consecrator, mentor, and friend. He is buried in the crypt of the Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Melbourne.
Bishop Ivan Prasko is remembered as a true pioneer of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Australia, not only for building churches, halls, schools, museum, library, but for his pastoral zeal and steadfast loyalty to Ukraine and to the Ukrainian Patriarchate.
History Coat of Arms Pilgrimage Place