We, the delegates of the 6th Session of the Patriarchal Sobor of the UGCC, gathered in Ivano-Frankivsk in the region of Prykarpattya, on the 25th-27th of August 2015, under the leadership of the Father and Head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, discussing the theme “The Vibrant Parish – A Place to Encounter the Living Christ,” have developed specific directives for the life of our Church in Ukraine and elsewhere.
By His presence at the Sobor, we testify that it is precisely in the parish that the faithful most frequently encounter Christ through Christian instruction, community prayer and service to one’s neighbour. Fostering and reviving parish life, we thus animate the entire Church. In view of this, we are presenting these proposals, which are divided into three levels: patriarchal, eparchial, and parochial.
THE WORD OF GOD
For the continuing formation of priests, and the formation of seminarians:
In homiletics courses, to pay attention to different approaches and methods of preaching among different categories of people.
To hold a practical course on the prayerful reading of the Sacred Scriptures (Lectio Divina).
- To call the faithful continually to pray for good and zealous priests, preachers of the Word of God.
- To remind all the faithful of their duty to evangelize as witnesses of Christian life.
- To work on and publish the Sacred Scriptures (translated by Ivan Khomenko) electronically, and with comments, explanations, and reference material: symphony, where to find parallels, other Ukrainian translations as well as a dictionary of the Greek language.
- To request diocesan bishops to support and encourage the development of a biblical apostolate in the parishes of their eparchies.
- To recommend that eparchial bishops organize days of spiritual renewal for priests.
- To call priests to preach and explain the Word of God, not merely on Sundays and feast days, but during every Divine Liturgy, during Vespers (wherever there is a reading of the Old Testament), during the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries, and during other divine services and blessings.
- During the celebration of the Mystery of Holy Anointing, to recommend that priests involve the family of the sick person in reading the psalms and the Epistle.
- To encourage the clergy to implement biblical catechesis as a method of adult catechesis.
- To remind the faithful of how important it is to possess their own copy of the Sacred Scriptures. For the eparchial and parochial community, to help persons who receive a low-income to have access to the Sacred Scriptures.
- To encourage the clergy to become acquainted with different methods and practices of reading the Holy Scriptures in the UGCC, and to apply them in parishes.
- To launch bible study groups in the parish, so that the faithful might be able to better understand the Sacred Scriptures, and explain it to others.
- To encourage the clergy to take into account the presence of children, while explaining the Word of God.
- To make use of contemporary methods of mass communication to preach the Word of God and to conduct catechesis.
- In order that the faithful better experience and understand the Sunday proclamation, to recommend that clergy print the changeable parts of the Divine Liturgy for their parishioners.
- To encourage the faithful to prayerfully read the Sacred Scriptures as a family.
- To use various effective practices to promote the reading of the Sacred Scriptures.
- To ensure that catechesis is relevant, meets the challenges of the time, and is presented in a practical manner.
- To implement a systematic catechesis of adults, based on the program of the Adult Catechumenate in the UGCC.
- To put into effect a liturgical catechesis for parishioners of all ages, utilizing the texts of pre-feasts, feasts and post-feasts, especially before the patronal feast of the parish.
- In catechetical teachings, to pay special attention to kindling a love for prayer and a reverent attitude towards the church and towards sacred things.
- To develop a program of liturgical catechesis (to prepare unified texts for parochial liturgical catechesis for all ages).
- To organize eparchial and deanery training for catechists and active laity, and to support their ongoing formation.
- To organize solid catechesis in parishes based on the Catechism of the UGCC, “Christ Our Pascha.”
- Where needed, to implement catechetical teaching in the language of the country in which it is held.
- To make use of pilgrimages and common recreation times as an opportunity for special catechesis.
- To implement a systematic catechesis of adults, based on the program of the Adult Catechumenate in the UGCC.
- Every effort should be made for catechesis to become a priority for parish communities, so that it addresses all ages (children, teenagers, youth, adults) and social groups, irrespective of the number of people involved.
- To generate parent councils for the promotion and development of catechesis in parishes.
- In parishes where there is no organized catechesis, to create a catechetical school and to engage catechists to serve therein.
- To organize camps, both outside and within the parish, as an opportunity for special catechesis.
- To implement a systematic catechesis of adults, based on the program of the Adult Catechumenate in the UGCC.
- As members of the universal Church, we must be open to missionary activity – evangelization.
- To remind the clergy and the faithful that the missionary field of the UGCC is never restricted by ethnic origin.
- To encourage the faithful to witness to their Christian stance through public manifestation of the faith (e.g., giving a Christian greeting, making the sign of the cross, etc.).
- To take modern conditions of missionary activity, evangelization, and kerygma into account within a seminary course on “missiology.”
- Considering the needs of the Church in mission territories, to send those priests who have the gift of missionary service to training for this purpose.
- To encourage the clergy to provide a more in-depth clarification of the missionary spirit of the Church.
- To align missionary activities with the authentic witness of faith and life of the saints and new martyrs of the UGCC.
- To develop pilgrimages and religious tourism.
- To support the development of the official website of the UGCC, including its translation into different languages.
- To develop prayer petitions for the missionary vocation of all Christians.
- To promote prayer for a missionary spirit and to continue the annual decade of missionary activity in all the parishes of the UGCC.
- To emphasize the missionary vocation of the Christian (namely, to share one’s faith), and to give concrete examples of missionary service, during catechesis.
- To organize the formation of the laity on parochial and eparchial levels.
- To encourage bishops and priests to involve the laity in a more active role in the administrative and economic needs of the eparchy/parish (construction, maintenance, management), and to devote more attention to dialogue with the faithful.
- To encourage the creation of different communities in the parish, which would make the faithful more open to others and ready to bear witness to Christ.
- To encourage families that form the parish community to take an active role in missionary activities (e.g., volunteer projects).
- To encourage families to restore Christian traditions (e.g., common prayers, mealtime prayers, joint participation in Sunday worship).
- To encourage parishioners to invite their friends and acquaintances to participate in the life of the parish community (e.g., invite friends to communal prayer, vigils, and other events taking place in the parish).
- To encourage the clergy to conduct retreats (and other events) in the parish, on the theme of mission.
- To call parishioners joyfully to witness to their faith – evangelization.
- To create, and to keep regularly updated, a book of parishioners (profiles with their contact information, in order to enable communication between pastors and their faithful).
- On the parish level, to encourage the celebration of the patronal feast to continue even after the divine services, by enabling communication with one another in the context of a common celebration and a meal.
- To organize meetings so that parishioners of diverse age groups might share the faith (meetings of families, youth meetings).
- To place a notice board where the faithful might request the prayers of the parish.
- To devote one of these next years (in a year or two) in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to the liturgical life of the Church.
- To commemorate annually the consecration of the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv:
To set the Feast Day of Consecration of the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv on August 5th (Old Calendar: August 18th).
To authorize the Patriarchal Liturgical Commission to compose and submit for approval a service for this feast day.
- To develop suitable commentaries and explanations of the texts of divine services.
- To complete the translation and publication of the liturgical books necessary to carry out the divine services (Menaion, Triodion).
- To establish a centralized publication of liturgical texts and other materials, including their translation into other languages.
- To compile the Book of Needs (Trebnyk), paying special attention to those rites that are relevant to modern pastoral situations.
- To unify and arrange the texts of divine services for the clergy and the laity in different languages.
- To develop and publish liturgical services for the Ukrainian saints of the twentieth century.
- To encourage the clergy to celebrate the Mysteries of Christian Initiation during the Divine Liturgy.
- To explore the proposal to restore the practice of pronouncing aloud the texts of silent prayers, as well as the kiss of peace, within the Divine Liturgy.
- To stress the importance of adhering to the prescriptions of the liturgical books of the UGCC, in celebrating the Divine Liturgy and the other divine services, and to warn the clergy against making unauthorized changes. (The competency to make any changes lies exclusively with the father and head of the Church and with the consent of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC).
- To call the clergy to a diligent and attentive celebration of the divine services (to clearly pronounce the prayer, to follow the liturgical movements unhurried, to adopt a proper posture, to keep their priestly vestments clean, etc.).
- To implement the participation of children in the Divine Liturgy and to work out recommendations in order that this might be fulfilled.
- In seminary courses in liturgical theology, to pay attention to the importance of beauty in the church and to the aesthetics of divine services.
- To pay attention to seminarians’ formation in prayer and liturgy.
- To see to the professional training and continual formation of cantors/readers and to create internet resources for distance formation of cantors.
- We recommend the creation of a single database resource for the UGCC, which would contain all helpful reference materials for divine services, and to promote the texts of divine services through the official media resources of the UGCC.
- To call the clergy to serve the Divine Liturgy every day (wherever possible).
- To supplement the existing online platform Dyvensvit, with the texts of the divine services in different languages, taking into consideration the different church calendars.
- To issue rules, in the form of recommended guidelines, regarding the behavior of the faithful during the Divine Liturgy and other divine services, explaining to the faithful how to value piety in behavior, clothing, and posture in church.
- To request of eparchial bishops that the cathedral church become the model for divine services and prayer life.
- The request of eparchial bishops that they closely supervise the observance of architectural norms, interior decoration, and painting of churches, according to church norms and tradition, and to cooperate in this area more closely with the Eparchial Commission of Sacred Art and Architecture.
- The implement liturgical catechesis and preaching in parishes. To prepare an educational strategy on explaining the divine services, choosing the appropriate time and method (before or after the Divine Liturgy, distributing printed comments, explanations, and involving educated laity).
- To care for the beauty of liturgical singing, to pay attention to pronunciation, the expressive language of the cantor, the proper sound, and to encourage all the faithful to take part in singing the divine services.
- To involve children in the liturgical life of the parish, giving them responsibility over different tasks.
- To ensure the presence of liturgical books in the parish community and to provide the faithful with the texts of the divine services, which are carried out in the parish.
- To encourage the faithful to witness to the importance of prayer in their lives.
- To pay particular attention to imparting a love for prayer and the study of our liturgical and prayer heritage.
- To encourage all the faithful to practice the Jesus Prayer, both personally and communally.
- To prepare the faithful for divine worship by explaining its important and beauty.
- To use social media in order to make prayer requests.
- To revive the practice of ringing bells, in order to call for communal prayer at certain times.
- To implement a systematic formation for active prayer communities.
- To stress the importance of prayer and to organize a broadcast of the prayers of the Church via television and radio.
- During his episcopal visitation, the eparchial bishop should pay greater attention to common prayer and to communication with the laity.
- To summon the clergy to give a personal example of prayer to the parish community.
- To encourage children and youth to take an active part in parish worship and to educate them accordingly.
- To promote prayer and worship in parishes at a convenient time for the people, and also in the evening.
- To organize brotherhoods for men and to promote their spiritual formation within parishes.
- To implement the Rite of Forgiveness at the beginning of the Great Fast (Lent), and to encourage the faithful towards reconciliation on the occasion of the completion of missions or retreats.
- To collaborate with other churches and confessions in the sphere of environmental protection (ecology).
- To nurture mutual respect, love, and knowledge of one another.
- To conduct joint spiritual, cultural and charitable events and processions on national and religious holidays.
- To offer suitable programs and scientific and practical training for pastors and practicing Christians who foster unity.
- To work on a program that would acquaint eparchies with one another, with the aim of exchanging gifts and providing mutual aid.
- To appeal to the common responsibility of bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and laity to implement the decisions and laws of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC – this shall become a visible sign of unity in our Church.
- To promote professional associations (teachers, doctors…) by organizing pilgrimages, prayers, and other activities for them.
- To practice ecumenical prayer in parishes and eparchies (the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, etc.)
- To hold charitable events together with other Christian communities and religious organizations, fostering mutual respect and love.
- To collaborate with other parishes in catechetical, prayer, and charitable initiatives.
- To establish communities of priests to foster unity among the clergy as a sign of unity of the faithful.
- To encourage the parish community to hold common worship, prayer, and other celebrations (Christmas carols, sharing kutya, blessing meals) to promote unity between all parishioners.
- To stress the importance of unity among children and youth in parochial schools and other communities (during Christian camps, meetings, conferences, forums, ecological projects, campaigns, contests, and competitions).
- To carry out various parochial activities (common meals, workshops, sports activities, ecological activities) and to inform one another of needs and mutual assistance.
- To be open and accessible to new members of the parish and to be sensitive to their needs.
- To create a parish website or social network page.
- To organize a meeting for parishioners, in which, under the leadership of its pastor, they might discuss how they view their parish, express their wishes and expectations (e.g., pastoral planning meetings, parish council meetings, etc.).
- To pursue the possibility of a meeting between the priest and the people after the Sunday Divine Liturgy.
SERVICE OF NEIGHBOR
- To emphasize the importance of continuous social ministry in the parishes of the UGCC.
- To spread the teachings of the universal Church regarding the protection of human life from conception to natural death.
- To conduct whole church fund-raising campaigns, aimed at concrete social projects.
- To request the Caritas organization to take charge of training personnel for various types of social service within the parish community, and to provide them with the appropriate methods of assistance.
- To support the activities of Caritas and social ministry in the parishes of central, southern, and eastern regions of Ukraine.
- To request that eparchial bishops pay attention to the social activities of a parish, during their canonical visitation.
- To encourage the setting up of centers to take care of orphans, provide assistance to pregnant women, the homeless, addicts, and other people who are in difficult social circumstances.
- To organize shelters for homeless people during cold seasons.
- To pay attention to people with special needs (e.g., those who use a wheelchair) when buildings new churches, and when restoring existing ones.
- To pay special attention to the importance of pastoral care for children, youth, and families in order to prevent social upheaval.
- To call the parish community to social service, as an important manifestation of our faith.
- To establish in parishes social councils, centers for the Caritas organization, or to appoint persons who would be responsible for organizing social service.
- We recommend that parish councils introduce programs of social service into its planning.
- To call parishes to assist priests and other persons involved in prison ministry.
- To call the parish community to care for the elderly.
- To encourage parish communities in the diaspora to provide assistance to immigrants from Ukraine in legal matters, language issues, employment, and the implementation of government programs.
- To educate the laity and clergy on how to cooperate with each other in carrying out the duties that the Church confers upon them.
- To cultivate a respectful attitude by the laity towards the priest.
- To emphasize the importance of continuing formation for both priests and bishops.
- To introduce courses of pastoral planning in seminaries.
- To encourage the clergy to be exemplars of both personal and family (if married) life, valuing especially the virtue of modesty.
- To call the clergy to reside in their parish, to become personally acquainted with their parishioners, to be open to them, and to distribute responsibilities effectively among them.
- To explain the vocation and task of parish councils, demonstrating, at the same time, confidence and support for them in their service.
- To request eparchial bishops to implement training for members of pastoral and finance councils in the parishes of their eparchies.
- To organize educational and spiritual training for accountants (treasurers), sextons, and other persons who serve within the parish.
- To develop and implement parish statutes.
- To organize common meetings for parish councils from different parishes.
- To encourage people the presentation of effective pastoral practices during eparchial and deanery gatherings.
- To implement a course on parish administration into the program of continuing formation for clergy.
- To draw the attention of eparchial bishops to the difference between regular parochial visitations and a canonical visitation.
- To appeal to the clergy to reside in their parish, and the parish community to provide whatever might be necessary for their pastor.
- To set up pastoral and finance councils (wherever there are none), to hold transparent elections in those already existing, and to inform the parish community about their activity.
- To create within the parish a community of people from different professions that are involved in various kinds of service and volunteering.
- To encourage the publication of a parish newsletter.
DISTRIBUTION OF GOODS
- To encourage the clergy and faithful of the UGCC to practice tithing (time, talent, material goods, etc.).
- To organize a course on the “Distribution of Goods” for the clergy and faithful.
- To create a feedback mechanism for implementing and executing the resolutions of the Sobor.
- To express gratitude to the “Working Group on the Implementation of Strategic Development of the UGCC in the Year 2020: The Vibrant Parish – A Place to Encounter the Living Christ” for their sacrificial labor and service.
- To initiate conferences after the Sobor on all levels (eparchial, deanery, and parochial) in order to inform all the faithful of the UGCC of the resolutions of the Sobor.
- To request that eparchial bishops establish a mutual fund for priests, to help clergy and their families in need.
- To encourage pastors to cooperate closely with their parishioners.
- To recommend that clergy continually inform the parish community of parish activities.
- To call the parish community to pay special attention to the needs of asocial families.
- To recommend that pastors involve consecrated persons (sisters, brothers) in conducting retreats, parochial schools, et al.
- To encourage the establishment of parochial advisers, drawing professionals from various branches (priest, psychological, lawyer, etc.).