On the back of two significant anniversaries, the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania has launched its new website, focused on sharing the word of God and acting as a ‘bridge to our people’ according to its Eparch, Bishop Mykola Bychok CSsR.

‘Sometimes it is difficult to pick up true information which can enrich us as humans and as believers,’ reflects Bishop Mykola. ‘Wrong information can destroy someone,’ he says, while ‘true information can heal a person.’ The bishop says the Church must continue to use its online presence to proclaim the work of God, encourage the spiritual growth of its people and strengthen connections within the community.

‘For us Ukrainians, this task is twice greater because of the war, where we must be witness to the truth behind the events that take place,’ he says. ‘Today people are especially hungry to hear good words—and most of all, the word of God.’

The launch of the website follows the anniversaries of two significant events in the life of the Ukrainian Eparchy: the consecration of its first bishop and the blessing of its cathedral.

Sixty-five years ago, on 19 October at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Bishop Ivan Prasko was consecrated as the first bishop for Ukrainians in Australia and New Zealand. From that moment, according to Fr Simon Ckuj, Vicar General of the Eparchy, ‘the dissemination of news became an important issue.’

‘We were in the days of the Cold War, and so it was important for our people in Australia to receive news of what was happening in their homeland from trusted and reliable sources,’ he says. ‘It was not easy to disseminate news in the late 1950s and early 1960s, so most of our parishes began by printing their own bulletins.’

By 1963, the first issue of the Eparchy’s official publication, Church and Life, was published in Sydney. It soon became a trusted source of news and by the late 1960s was being published on a weekly basis. The publication was eventually moved to North Melbourne, where it was taken up by the Sisters of St Basil the Great. The publication was eventually replaced by the Eparchy’s website, which by the early 2000s had become the repository for updates to and from the local and international Ukrainian Catholic communities.

391625653 10232218306307163 2835575086154385093 n
Sixty-five years ago, Bishop Ivan Prasko was consecrated as the first bishop for Ukrainians in Australia and New Zealand at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Photo courtesy of Fr Simon Ckuj.

Another milestone recently marked by the Eparchy was the 60th anniversary of the blessing of the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul in North Melbourne. On 22 October 2023, Bishop Mykola presided over the special liturgy, which was concelebrated by Archbishop Charles Balvo, Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, and priests and deacons from around Australia.

Earlier this year, a delegation from Australia, including bishops, priests and laity, visited war-engulfed Ukraine in an extension of pastoral fraternity and humanitarian solidarity. The four-day encounter was to listen to and witness first-hand the experiences of the people, and to see where the Church in Australia’s own support might have greatest impact.

Within the country there exists a strong network of Catholic parishes and organisations that are helping to ensure the distribution of supplies across the country. But almost two years into the conflict, and with no end in sight, calls for humanitarian assistance continues, with people displaced and in need of shelter, food, and pastoral and mental health support.

‘Watching this tragedy from afar and offering financial support is one thing, but it is important that we hear and share the voices of those directly affected,’ reflected Archbishop Peter A Comensoli at the time. The visit, he said, was about ‘caring for our neighbour, and personally offering a strength in friendship and prayer to the Ukrainian people.’

Visit the newly launched website to learn more about the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania.