The History of the Melbourne Eparchy of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

The first Ukrainians started emigrating to Australia in 1948 and immediately began efforts regarding spiritual life. Officially, 13 August 1949, is considered the date when the Divine Liturgy was first celebrated in Australia, led by Father Pavlo Smal in the chapel near St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

In 1950, Fr. Ivan Prasko volunteered to come to Australia. Initially, he served as a priest, fulfilling pastoral duties among Ukrainian faithful in Melbourne, Victoria, and Tasmania for eight years. During that time, he founded many church communities and later contributed to the construction of churches, organized Ukrainian Saturday schools, and a number of church-community organizations. At that time, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church did not exist in Australia as an official institution. According to the government’s population census figures for 1954, there were 17,239 Ukrainians in Australia.

On 19 October 1958, Fr. Ivan Prasko was consecrated as a bishop by Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk, Archbishop Ivan Buchko and Bishop Isidor Boretsky. The new bishop immediately assumed the leadership of the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainians in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania, which was established on 10 May 1958, by Pope Pius XII.

In the 1960s, Bishop Ivan Prasko approached the General Administration of the Basilian Sisters in Rome and Patriarch Josyf Slipyj with a request to send sisters to Australia. On 8 July 1966, several sisters left their native Argentina and headed to Australia. Among the first Basilian Sisters were Sr. Maria Afinets, Sr. Anizia Shevchuk, Sr. Konstantina Tsapay and Sr. Lukiya Angeliuk. On 28 March 1967, the sisters began their activities in Sydney, in 1970 in Melbourne, and in 1977 in Adelaide.

In 1967, Fr. Russell Morrison made the first visit to New Zealand to establish a mission there and serve Ukrainians on the two islands. His story is remarkable, as he himself is an Australian who became a Redemptorist and later expressed a desire to learn the Eastern rite and serve our faithful.

On 11 October 1968, Patriarch Josyf Slipyi visited Ukrainians in Australia for the first time. He visited all corners of Australia where Ukrainians lived. The first congress of the Association of Ukrainian Catholic Organisations in Australia was also held there.

On 18 February 1973, Patriarch Josyf visited Australia for the second time, attending the 40th International Eucharistic Congress held in Melbourne. Other bishops accompanied him. On this occasion, the Ukrainian Museum of Art prepared an exhibition on the persecution of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in both the Soviet Union and Poland, primarily in Lemkivshchyna.

The history of the construction and acquisition of Ukrainian churches in Australia is as follows:

1958 — St. Olga’s Church in Wodonga.

1961 — St. Andrew’s Church in Sydney. The parish, church hall, and school were built in 1970.

1961 — Protection of the Mother of God Church in Brisbane.

1963 — Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Melbourne. The parish house was completed in 1976.

1963 — Dormition of the Mother of God Church in Ardeer.

1963 — St. Volodymyr and Olha Church in Woodville, South Australia.

1966 — St. John the Baptist Church in Perth.

1967 — St. Michael’s Church in Queanbeyan.

1969 — Protection of the Mother of God Church in Northam, Western Australia.

1973 — Protection of the Mother of God Church in Wayville, South Australia.

1979 — St. Volodymyr’s Church in Wollongong.

1984 — St. Volodymyr’s Church in Canberra.

On 24 June 1982, the Melbourne Exarchate was elevated to the rank of an Eparchy with its headquarters in Melbourne. The first Bishop of the Melbourne Eparchy was the Most Reverend Bishop Ivan Prasko. Since there was already an Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Melbourne at that time, and it was not canonically acceptable to have two bishops with the same name, the decision was made to name the newly created Eparchy as the “Eparchy of Saints Peter and Paul.”

On 20 March 1986, Patriarch Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky visited the Melbourne Eparchy, making a pastoral visit to Ukrainians in Australia and visiting many parishes.

On 27 February 1991, Confessor of the Faith Bishop Pavlo Vasylyk visited Melbourne, delivering a report on the life of our Church in the catacombs and visiting various parishes in the area.

On 2 May 1993, the enthronement of Bishop Peter Stasiuk took place as the second ruling Bishop of the Eparchy of Saints Peter and Paul in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.

On 28 January 2001, Bishop Ivan Prasko passed away and was buried in the crypt of the Cathedral Church.

On 12 July 2021, the enthronement of Bishop Mykola Bychok took place as the third ruling Hierarch of the Eparchy of Saints Peter and Paul in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania at the Cathedral.

Coat of Arms Bishop Pilgrimage Place