Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Melbourne

Ukrainians who came to Australia did not have their own church. That is why on 4 June 1950, two priests Fr. Pavlo Smal and Fr. Dr. Ivan Prasko gathered the faithful to start fundraising for the purchase of a plot of land and the construction of their own church in Melbourne.

After 8 years, in 1958, a plot of land was bought in North Melbourne, on which a new church for Ukrainians in Australia was to be built. On 18 October of the same year, the site was consecrated. This event was attended by Metropolitan Maksym Hermanyuk, CSsR, Archbishop Ivan Buchko, Bishop Izidor Boretskyi, parish priest Fr. Dr. Ivan Prasko and all Ukrainian priests in Australia: Fr. Dr. Petro Diachyshyn, Fr. Mykola Kopyakivskyi, CSsR, Fr. Dmytro Kaczmar, Fr. John Bowden, Fr. Yuriy Spolitakevych, Fr. Stefan Maslo, CSsR, and Fr. Mykola Ivanco.

On 11 April 1959, a meeting of the faithful was held in the People’s House in Melbourne to choose a project for the construction of the church. After this meeting, Orion Wenhrynowycz’s project was chosen. The plan of the future Cathedral was prepared by the firm Smith and Tracy, and the construction of the temple was to be started by the firm Clemens Lang Ford after the competition.

Construction began in December 1961, and on 26 August 1962, the cornerstone was laid and consecrated by Archbishop Ivan Buchko and Bishop Ivan Prasko.

The blessing of the Cathedral took place on Easter, 14 April 1963, which was attended by more than 3,000 people. A commemorative tablet was embedded in the wall of the church with the inscription: “This Cathedral Church was built by Ukrainian Catholics for the Glory of God, blessed by Apostolic Exarch Ivan Prasko on Easter, 14 April 1963, year of God.” According to the table, a chronology of the structure of the church, a list of donors and a certificate were placed in a dense copper box.

After that, work began on writing the iconostasis and its installation. The iconostasis in the Cathedral was designed by Orion Wenhrynowycz. The carving was done by Yevhen Stakhiv, and the icons were painted by Sviatoslav Gordynskyi in 1978, a Ukrainian artist from the USA; and later the painting of the church was completed by Boris and Sviatoslav Makarenky in 1987–88. The ceiling inside the church was painted by Fr. Zenon Chorkavy and others.

The large altar mosaic in the sanctuary “Jesus Christ and St. App. Peter and Paul” was made by the Italian firm Monticelli, which also made all the mosaics in the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Rome.

The solemn consecration of the Cathedral with the iconostasis took place on 3 December 1967, which was attended by many faithful. A procession with the relics of St. Martyr Josaphat took place around the church, and later the relics were invested in the altar.

Later, eight houses were bought around the newly built Cathedral. A large parish house was built on these plots, where Bishop Ivan and several priests lived, as well as office premises. A two-story building was built next to it: on the first floor there was a Ukrainian Saturday school, and on the second floor there was a parish hall and a small room for a museum of Ukrainian art and a library. Also nearby was built premises for the printing house of the Prosvita publishing house, which printed the eparchial newspaper “Church and Life” and other necessary catechetical materials for work with children and youth.

On 11 October 1968, Patriarch Joseph Slipyj came to the Melbourne Cathedral, and later also paid a pastoral visit to all Ukrainians scattered throughout Australia. At the same time, the first congress of the Association of Ukrainian Catholic Organisations in Australia was held.

In 1970, the Sisters of Basil the Great opened their first settlement near the Cathedral in Melbourne.

On 24 June 1982, Pope John Paul II raised the Exarchate of Melbourne to the level of an Eparchy with his bull. The announcement was marked by great celebrations in the Melbourne Cathedral Parish, with the participation of Cardinal Edward Bede Clancy, Archbishop of Sydney and Archbishop Luigi Barbarito, Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, as well as numerous bishops, priests and the faithful.

On 20 March 1986, the Melbourne Cathedral welcomed Patriarch Myroslav-Ivan Lyubachivskyi. On 29 March of the same year, His Beatitude blessed the cornerstone for the construction of the monastery for the Basilian Sisters, which was later consecrated on 20 April 1987.

On 5 April 1987, there was a live broadcast of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy through state television to the whole of Australia, conducted by Bishop Ivan Prasko, and sung by the Cathedral Choir conducted by Oleksandr Kutsil.

On 28 January 2001, Bishop Ivan Prasko, the first hierarch of the Melbourne Eparchy and the builder of the Cathedral, died. He was buried in the crypt of the Cathedral Church.

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

Melbourne Cathedral Parish is the seat of the Ruling Bishop and is one of the largest parishes in the Eparchy.