The Annual Meeting of Eastern Catholic Bishops of Europe was held in London and Hertfordshire this year from 26th to 29th October, at the invitation of Bishop Hlib Lonchyna of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family. As the bishops explain, these days of intense meetings and conferences were ‘above all days of brotherhood and prayer’. The general theme of the meeting was the proclamation, the knowledge, and the life of faith in Christ.
It was also a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Ukrainian Eparchy of the Holy Family of London. It was an ‘opportunity to remember with gratitude the pastoral attention of the Holy See in meeting the pastoral needs of the Eastern Catholic faithful scattered throughout Western Europe’.
It was also an opportunity to celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom at Westminster Cathedral on 28th October. Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk (pictured above), Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, presided over the liturgy that was concelebrated by the Eastern Catholic bishops, as well as the Apostolic Nuncio and a number of bishops from around England and Wales in the presence of Cardinal Vincent. Also present at the celebration were representatives from Anglican and Orthodox Churches, ‘a testimony to the good ecumenical climate in this country’.
The cathedral was resplendent with the sights and sounds of the Eastern Catholic liturgy. Cardinal Vincent preached the homily, welcoming the Eastern Catholic Bishops. Speaking of the 60th anniversary of the Eparchy of the Holy Family as a ‘significant anniversary,’ he said ‘one we would do well to celebrate’. Acknowledging the changes in Eastern Europe which have brought ‘great hope after years of darkness’, he noted that ‘great challenges face the Church’ in these lands.
He spoke of liturgical catechesis which is ‘something of a priority’ to the life of Eastern Catholic churches. ‘The reverence we show for the things of God is a barometer of our reverence for God himself; those who see the love and care we put into our liturgical celebrations are, we pray, the more likely themselves to grow in knowledge and love of him towards whom our praise is ordered,’ he said.
‘More than that,’ he added, ‘liturgy gives what it teaches, drawing those who live and experience it deeper into the life of grace, in word and gesture, in symbol and sacrament.’
At the end of the liturgy, Cardinal Vincent, Archbishop Shevchuk and the Apostolic Nuncio paused to pray at the tomb of Cardinal Cormac.
The Eastern Catholic Churches are Churches which are in full communion with the Church of Rome but distinguished from the Latin Catholic Church by their different forms of liturgical worship and popular devotion, sacramental (administration of the sacraments) and canonical (juridical norms) disciplines, terminology and theological traditions.
The full text of Cardinal Vincent's homily is available here.
For more information about the Eastern Catholic Bishops' meeting, please visit the CCEE website here.
Additional photos from the Divine Liturgy are available here.