The Anniversary celebrations in the former Cathedral of the historical Chelm Eparchy of the UGCC

Tuesday, 29 January 2013, 09:24
On the occasion of the liturgical commemoration of Podlachian martyrs, on the 23rd of January 2013, in the former Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin of the historical Chelm Eparchy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, there were held, the 10th in succession, anniversary celebrations. On the occasion of the Year of Faith, which was proclaimed all over the Catholic Church, that day, the celebrations were attended by the faithful people of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic and Latin Churches.

Traditionally, during the past decade, the Greek Catholic seminarians, along with parishioners, set off from Lublin to the Chelm, where they are warmly welcomed by the local Latin parish priest and by the parishioners. With each year, increases the number of Ukrainian Lublin parishioners, who express the willing and come to this, glorious in the Ukrainian history, which is in the present day found on the territory of Poland.

In the solemn liturgy, despite the Ukrainian seminarians and parishioners from Lublin, participated the parishioners from the local Latin parish. The service was led by Fr. Serhiy Stesenko, the doctoral candidate of the Canon Law of the John Paul II (KUL) Catholic University of Lublin, with whom concelebrated: proto-presbyter Bohdan Panchak, the senior priest for the Greek Catholic seminarians at the Metropolitan Seminary of Lublin, and Fr. Dr. Christopher Grzesiak, research assistant in the KUL Institute of cultural studies, who delivered the sermon. The diaconal service, during the liturgy, was performed by the Deacon Dr. Petro Syvytskyi, research assistant of the KUL Institute of History, and the mixed seminary- parish choir from Lublin, with their singing, decorated the festive celebration, in which, together with the Ukrainian, Polish language was heard.

The peacher, first of all, drew attention of the faithful people, who attended, to the fact that the Podlachian martyrs in Podlasie, whom in 1996, bl. John Paul II announced to be blessed, became a model for dozens and hundreds of ordinary peasants, faithful people of the Greek Catholic Church in Chelm and in Podlasie, who contributed their lives for the unity of the Church, by being faithful to the Apostolic See and their own Church, despite the pressure from the then royal power of Russian Empire regarding the transition to the fold of the Russian Orthodox Church. The heroic deaths of 13 Ukrainian peasants in 1874, who had families in the difficult period of persecution of the Greek Catholic Church, they without any hesitations demonstrated the loyalty towards the Catholic Church, should consolidate faith of the present day and future generations, regardless of the liturgical traditions and national ethnicity.

Then, the preacher focused attention on the fact that for many centuries, in this magnificent sanctuary, once the cathedral diocese of Chelm Eparchy of the Greek Catholic Church, the faithful people brought their prayers and that the present day belonging of the temple to the Latin Church, is almost one hundred years old, because after the elimination in 1875, from the side of Russian authorities, the Chelm Eparchy was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, and only later, the temple moved to the current owners. For Ukrainians, this place has both religious and cultural-historical value, as the mountain on which the church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin was built, is entitled "Danylova", because here, the king of Rus’ Danylo was buried, who is now being referred to as Danylo Halytskyi, the governor of the state, and in the crypts of the cathedral also rest Ukrainian bishops of Chelm.

For many local Latin parishioners, the information, which was heard, deepened the understanding of the importance of this sacred place and the Chelm city for the Ukrainian people. To this we must add also the fact that in January 2009, the Apostolic See resumed the titular see of Chelm in the Catholic Church.

At the end of the festivities, the local Latin parish priest, Fr. Prelate Thaddeus Kondziolka, expressed sincere gratitude to Ukrainians for the fact that they do not forget to visit their ancient shrines, as well as to all priests and deacons, who have served this Divine Liturgy to honor the Podlachian martyrs. Therefore, Ukrainian faithful people were invited to a common meal, during which they performed Christmas carols and shchedrivky.

To commemorate the blessed and the saints, the UGCC together with the faithful people of Latin Church, for more than one year reinforces good and warm relationship that should be cherished for the future of the two peoples.

Report made by Fr. Serhiy Stesenko


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