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I think the question of "Ethnic Parishes Good or Bad?" Is a hard one to answer. If it is an older established church, the ethnic identity is important to those who built the parish with their blood, sweat and tears. They should not be discounted, and there should be an assimililation to allow openness to all. A newer parish (say outside of the NE corner of the USA) Should not be as ethnic since that is a newer parish and was started as an "American parish" probably not a group of people from the old country who built their own parish to accomidate being Greek Catholic in a Western Catholic world.

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Dear all,

This topic is a very sensitive one for me, especially with the UGCC. Coming from London, I saw at first hand the very ethnic parishes. Either the faithful were immigrants from the WW2 wave (and those were known to be the hardline 'patriarchalists'), or they were from the 'new fourth wave' (the recent immigrants). There were a few non-Ukrainians from intermarriages, but they were the exception.

Granted, the cathedral parish I attended is full to the rafters. For Pascha, we hadn't enough space, leaving the faithful to fill up the hall next door as well as the entire block around the church! The new immigrants are certainly bringing their faith with them, and they are helping the Church (at least in Europe) get back on its feet. It is a heavily weakened Church, more so than in the United States (it would seem to me). So, that is good!

However, when I came to the UGCC, I could not speak Ukrainian. My father was from Ukraine and part of the WW2 immigration, but not a 'hardliner'. So, unfortunately for me, he didn't bring me up in my Ukrainian heritage. Sure, we went to a few Ukrainian festivals here and there, but not nearly enough to 'Ukrainianise' me. My mother, being Portuguese, did differently. Therefore, today, I am culturally very Portuguese (and British, of course!). My allegiance to my Ukrainian side comes through the Church, although I try to learn as much as I can about all things Ukrainian for my own benefit.

Nonetheless, nothing could frustrate me more than a church closing itself upon itself. The anti-scriptural basis of this action is self-explanatory, and I need not say more.
There I was, at university, learning about the Christian East for the first time, and meeting Orthodox Christians (and a few Eastern Catholics) who took me to their Churches. So, there I was, hearing about the Orthodox faith in my own language. There were sermons, 'cathecheses', etc. I was falling in love, despite my legs hurting quite a bit from all the standing.

But, I had already known of certain 'Eastern Churches in communion with Rome!' I thought "My goodness, maybe I could check these out further!"
So I went, and...everything in Ukrainian. It was beautiful, and I loved the Liturgy. But I couldn't understand anything. Even the priests who served the parish church could not speak enough English to explain things to me.
So, I returned to my Orthodox friends, who happily took me on youth retreats, to churches, even to Orthodox countries where I could see, feel, hear, touch and smell Eastern Christianity. Granted, this brought foreign languages too (which I am not against, since I study them), but it was the fellowship and catechesis that drew me in.

I was in a heavy dilemma: do I become Eastern Catholic, and join an 'ethnic club', or do I enter the Orthodox Church, where I have been so welcomed and loved (in my own language!). Needless to say, my choice was not easy...and yet, it somehow seemed a little easier. There was something about the UGCC that drew me in. Somehow I felt a home there, not because of the language and ethnic traditions (beautiful though they were and are), but because of what the Church is per se.

I had known, since I was 16 years old, that I wanted to enter seminary. I'd heard of a 'Byzantine Catholic Church of America', and its wider breadth. They seemed to have, on the whole, surpassed the nationalistic barrier. However, for various complicated reasons, that didn't work out. Nor did the Melkites, for similar reasons. I'd heard how Eastern they were, etc.
So, I was encouraged to give the UGCC one more try, and was welcomed to try seminary by a wonderfully-open Eparchy (in comparison with my past experience).

Yet, the problems did not go away in the United States. Since arriving, I have had friends systematically driven away from the seminary, and thus from a vocation to the priesthood, by hard-line Ukrainians who thought that if they wanted to speak English 'they'd better go to the Vysantiyski (Byzantines...i.e. Ruthenians)'. And yet these people dare to stand in church and pray for vocations every Sunday. I have seen, and heard, of converts (esp. non-western...i.e. non-white) faithful driven away from our parish churches by an astonishing lack of charity and Christianity. These people will not return on principle, and ended up joining the Roman Catholic Church. When young people come our way to be evangelised, I've been told to 'send them to the Latins!' And then, there's me. I have been pushed, even by priests, to 'Ukrainianise' myself inside-and-out. One priest even said that I would not be able to read the signs to go to heaven when I die, because St. Peter would speak to me in Ukrainian to see how good of a Ukrainian Catholic I was. My attempted friendships with Ukrainians have consistently been thwarted, because they see in me an 'anti-Ukrainian' out to 'Americanise' the UGCC. How ridiculous a statement this is: how can I can anti-myself? Even a young lady I dated, who is Chinese-American and absolutely in love with the UGCC, was told that a condition for our getting married was that she learned Ukrainian. You should have seen some parishioners' faces when they found out I wasn't dating a Ukrainian girl!

Please, if there is anyone out there who has an answer to this, speak out! When are we going to learn? When are we going to read the true signs of the times? If the Latins and the Byzantine-Ruthenians can do it, why can't we be more open and inclusive?
Why do we have to exclude anyone, because of their race or language?
For my beloved Church (UGCC), a Church of martyrs and confessors for the faith: are we willing to become a Church exclusively for immigrants and hard-line Ukrainian-Americans? Or, are we to follow Christ and thus be Christian:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

Your servant in Christ,

Joseph.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Joseph.

Your post left me wondering about the language requirements, if any, of the UGCC seminary in DC (either for admission or for graduation) and of the Philadelphia eparchy for ordination.

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As far as I know, there is no official requirement. We are exhorted to learn as much Ukrainian as we can, to be able to communicate with some of the immigrants who cannot speak English. All of us can sing the Liturgy in Ukrainian.
Some seminarians participate in the Ukrainian Summer Program at UCU in L'viv (one is going this year, two next year).
Having said this, some do not share the view that it should be an exhortation, but a requirement.

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B.B.! (all 6 UGCC parishes here are old calendar)

Thanks for the reply, but I'm still somewhat perplexed. How is it that a "wonderfully-open Eparchy" that apparently doesn't require fluency in Ukrainian of its priests has a seminary that "systematically drive[s] away" candidates who aren't fluent?

What are the obstacles that are presented?

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X.B.! (I guess I'm still thinking ala Greg!)

Sorry for not being clearer. I am studying for the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma. What I mean about 'wonderfully-open' can be best summed up by our mission statement, to be found on the eparchial website.
The seminary, as it is in Washington DC, belongs canonically to the Archeparchy of Philadelphia. When I said 'driven away', I did not mean by any of the seminary staff or the hierarchy, but rather by other individuals (cleric and/or lay). Our rector is an American, and is still learning Ukrainian. Our spiritual director is Ukrainian, but a really nice man.

It is not so much that those people aren't fluent, but that they aren't Ukrainian. So when my Italian friends mention their surnames, or when my Asian friends attend church, this hasn't usually gone down well (again, with certain individuals, who happen to be outspoken). Their experiences have led me to hear things like: "Well, I guess I should join the 'Byzantines', because I'm American and that would be the obvious choice."

I have had one or two friends who came to visit the seminary, and were put off because some of my Ukrainian brethren held public conversations in Ukrainian around them...despite the OFFICIAL house rule that English is to be spoken in public (particularly when we have guests).

Joseph.

P.S. I notice you're from Montreal. We have some lovely parishioners at the National Shrine of the Holy Family, originally from Montreal. They give me ample opportunity to practise my French! I hope very much to visit.

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X.B.!

I noticed a little error in my message. When I said "Our spiritual director is Ukrainian, but a really nice man", I did not mean to say that Ukrainians are bad. Rather, I hoped to imply that he is an open Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest, welcoming of everybody!

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Everyone has an opinion as everyone has a personal perspective. We need to know where you are coming from so we can understand how you are going to arrive. Here is Ecumenical 101: First off let us review East / West ideology. The East is suppose to get their direction organically from the grass roots up (Sunday of Orthodoxy). The West directs from the top guy down (Papal infallibility). East God is mystical in the West God is up close and personal. Being that I do not have personal ethnic experience beyond Central European (fold a map of Europe in half) let’s review an old adage I was taught. Rome leads through their respect of law. The Greeks embrace the allure of philosophy. The Save endear themselves to their love of beauty, no matter how they come by it (blessing Paschal foods). Rome translate Tradition as rubrical, Greeks translate Orthodox as true belief, the Slave translate Pravoslavnikh as true glory (we are as we pray). To quote (supposedly) Saint Augustine “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.” (Who says you can’t give a sermon in 5 minutes?)

All parishes are ethnic, Presbyterians, Methodists and synagogues are ethnic too. English is only a common denominator in North America, it’s not law. Get a prayer book with an English translation; with or without the Liturgical language alongside depending if you want to go church shopping. It’s like buying a new gadget where the directions are written in Spanish also (or RC missal). Unless you are visually impaired, especially the Divine Liturgy is visually self explanatory if versed in it. It is not a follow along scripted bible class (that’s a different ethnic expression). Different people will embrace services differently at the same time. Someday you will even read the “secret” prayers with the priest, other days you will play “Name That Tune” with the cantor, and if you are really moved you will zone out in a mystical daydream from which you will return to reality refreshed and renewed, even if you can’t explain where you were. Remember you are only one of the chorus, cast or crew as there is only one in the audience; God. Or three; God, God’s Mama, and Saint Nicholas.

If a particular parish is too cosmopolitan for your ask where the next parish is. The further from a metropolitan center often the weaker the bounds to the motherland. Some parishes over a century old you will be served pie for coffee hour, sold jalapeño pyrohy as a fund raiser, pray all in English IF you don’t forget the secret password. In Rusyn-Ukrainian circles it is Slava Esusu Khrysty, and don’t expect to get away from staring every service during Easter with Khrystos Voskrece, during Christmas with Boh Predvychnyee and every requiem ending with Vychnay Pamyaet and wedding with Mnohiya lita. Oh and when they pray the rosary after Matins and before Liturgy don’t be surprised if they don’t use 3 Otche Nashs and 30 Bohorodytsya Devots during it. It’s not being ethnic to them, it’s their way of defending their version of Orthodoxy. By the way you may find the promoters of ethnic ways are the converts, they are proud of what they learned and you will use it. Every parish is suppose to be different (despite the clergy) and has its unique sets of checks and balances. Unfortunately it is when foreigners (from another North American community / town) come in to save them that they get wounded and dye. If it’s not broke DON’T fix it.

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Byzantine Latino struck a chord with me.

I am a "transfer-of-canonical-jusirdiction" UGC who has worshipped in UGC parishes in North and South America as well as Europe, including Ukraine where I have lived and worked. I was part of the struggle to introduce English in my former UGC parish in the Midwest some years ago and witnessed the aftermath of the calendar/language split in the DC parish.

I recall my optimism, decades ago, when I discovered that one of the students at the UGC seminary was an African American. (Unfortunately, he did not continue to ordination.) But I also recall a phone conversation I had with a UGC hierarch many years later on the English-language issue, when I was told "We take care of our own." Fortunately, that attitude did not prevail within the UGCC in the US on the issue of English, but it is still reflected in the reluctance of the UGCC and, I believe, the BCC to consider themselves called, along with other Eastern and Western Churches, to "teach all nations."

In Ukraine, the UGCC seems to show some signs of an awareness of being called to bring Christ to other than ethnic Ukrainians. As one moves east of Kyiv, there are UGCC parishes where the language is Russian. When I lived in Kyiv, however, it was left to the Latins there to offer liturgies and homilies in the language spoken by the Russophone majority. And, in America, even when my midwestern parish, sitting at the edge of the 'barrio', was being served by UGC priests from South America, it never occurred to any of them that a Spanish Liturgy, or readings, or homily, might be a gesture of Christian welcome and friendship to our unchurched neighbors.

Even in BCC parishes, I see a tendency to emphasize the Slavic elements in the Church's tradition rather than efforts to express the essence of that tradition in ways that resonate with other cultures.

I have the greatest of respect for Ukrainian (and for Carpatho-Rusyn) tradition and culture, but the time has come for our Byzantine Churches in this hemisphere to accept the task of being a 'Light of Revelation' to the communities in which they are located, and indeed, to the entire country. If we really are the "other lung" we must breathe for everyone, and not just for "our own."

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Originally Posted by Mykhayl

It's not being ethnic to them, it's their way of defending their version of Orthodoxy.


I remember speaking to a parishioner once at Pascha time who was saddened by the fact that the Liturgy was "half-na-piv" (half-and-half) and not completely without English. After speaking with the priest, he remarked that oftentimes those people who make such statements are not regular church goers, but come on special occasions in order to 'hear it in their own language'. This particular person, by the way, later went to the Latin parish for the Easter Vigil. There was no problem, it would seem, for the Latins to speak English as long as we don't do it. "What", I asked myself, "must be the difference between the Latins and us? Is it that we have distinct traditions (theological, liturgical, spiritual, canonical)? Or it is primarily the language (in which case we are simply 'Roman Catholics with a 'funny Mass')?

Originally Posted by Mykhayl

By the way you may find the promoters of ethnic ways are the converts, they are proud of what they learned and you will use it. Every parish is suppose to be different (despite the clergy) and has its unique sets of checks and balances.


Indeed, if you define 'ethnic ways' as being the important traditions that come part and parcel with the Church. Pyrohy and dances, wonderful though they be, are unfortunately not crucial to Eastern Christianity. Personally, I like them very much, but do not impose them upon others.
Every parish should be unique, while not being closed to new possibilities with every single person who makes up that parish. It has been precisely those people who are unwilling to humbly change their minds and hearts, both to Grace and to other people, that have caused extreme stagnation in parishes.

Originally Posted by Mykhayl

Unfortunately it is when foreigners (from another North American community / town) come in to save them that they get wounded and dye. If it's not broke DON’T fix it.


I remember speaking with a young lady, aged 16, who came from a combined Ukrainian and Asian background. She, and her siblings, were in the process of leaving the UGCC for the local Latin parish. I took the time to ask her why she preferred the latter over the former, and her answers were informative. Other parishioners subsequently confirmed her view, and lamented to me: "Why aren't the young people coming to church any more?"

Indeed, this was a prime case of something that was broke and needed to be fixed!

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Originally Posted by Tim

I have the greatest of respect for Ukrainian (and for Carpatho-Rusyn) tradition and culture, but the time has come for our Byzantine Churches in this hemisphere to accept the task of being a 'Light of Revelation' to the communities in which they are located, and indeed, to the entire country. If we really are the "other lung" we must breathe for everyone, and not just for "our own."


Amen! Indeed, they are our mother Churches and should be loved as such. I hope that I could give an ounce of what the faithful from the old countries gave under persecution to the Church! Their sacrifice was not simply meant for their immediate children, but for Truth...and consequently for the whole world which is called to live the Truth! If the blood and tears they shed is to have the fullest possible meaning, then let us be truly catholic!

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With all the glitches in what we call the Eastern Churches in America, the one perpetually fix-all is language? Those that do the pushing recognize it as an ethnic ornament not a defense of orthodoxy. While in a liturgical language (like Latin) the Liturgy (or mass) is less likely to be embellished with guitars or the like as an introduction of modernizations or Americanizations aka Latinizing our way. Counterreformation if you will, as the vernacular hasn’t protected orthodoxy among the US RCs. There seams to be more fuss into putting English into the Liturgy than the Liturgy into America. Is the Divine Liturgy an experience or only a study guide?

After 125 years of US translations there still is not an American standard. If the people are still cling to their “Svyatiy Bozhe” are you going to tare it from their hearts? If it doesn’t happen organically its not our way. Remember Nikon.

There is so much more that needs fixed first. Maintenance may not be exciting but it is better than tearing everything down so only egos remains.

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Originally Posted by Mykhayl

With all the glitches in what we call the Eastern Churches in America, the one perpetually fix-all is language? Those that do the pushing recognize it as an ethnic ornament not a defense of orthodoxy.


You raise some very interesting issues, I must admit. Indeed, the vernacular does present those problems. I for one lament the disappearance of the Latin language altogether, although am not an opponent of the vernacular for obvious reasons. I take as my inspiration Ss. Cyril and Methodius, who took Christianity with them in the vernacular of the people. If there wasn't one codified, they invented it. This is the tradition of the Eastern Christian Churches. Remember, it was the West that stood for the imposition of a 'sacred language'.
For both East and West, translation into the vernacular carries with it the baggage of rendering the translated text 'faithful to orthodoxy'. I recall someone telling me about the translation of the Anaphora of the Latin Mass into Japanese. Apparently, they could not understand the concept of 'sacrifice' (or something to that effect). This is a wider issue that needs to be addressed: how can we inculturate without losing orthodoxy? Thankfully, in English this is less of a problem.

Originally Posted by Mykhayl

While in a liturgical language (like Latin) the Liturgy (or mass) is less likely to be embellished with guitars or the like as an introduction of modernizations or Americanizations aka Latinizing our way. Counterreformation if you will, as the vernacular hasn’t protected orthodoxy among the US RCs. There seams to be more fuss into putting English into the Liturgy than the Liturgy into America. Is the Divine Liturgy an experience or only a study guide?


I don't understand. Are you implying that the introduction of 'Americanization' equals to 'Modernization' and 'Latinization'? If so, I think we need to be very careful. We have a Christian duty to inculturate the Gospel in a sound, orthodox, faithful way (see the documents of the Church). This has to be done very carefully and selectively. A priest once suggested to me that he would like to see the so-called 'Gospel Spirituals' sung in our churches, since they are non-instrumental, very moving, and akin to our worship but from another cultural perspective. As long as the text is orthodox, then why not? The same could be said of Spanish hymns in Hispanic areas. The Ruthenians are beginning to recognize this, and I think we should as well. But to go as far as introducing guitars into our worship, as modernizers tend to push, is clearly out of the question.
I am simply saying that these were interesting and thought-provoking suggestions, and could be part of an orthodox 'Americanization', which is what should happen when we attempt to bring Christianity to America. We are not the Byzantine Church, but the Byzantine Church in (of) America.

I couldn't even say how many translations of the Liturgy into the English language exist (Orthdox and Catholic together). However, I do believe that if it were done there should be, as far as possible, one translation for the use of all Byzantine Churches. Perhaps there could be minor differences for each jurisdiction, but if only they could get together and produce one text...yet I recognise that I am a dreamer. Trying to get Eastern Christians to agree with each other is like asking a wall to move.

Originally Posted by Mykhayl

There is so much more that needs fixed first. Maintenance may not be exciting but it is better than tearing everything down so only egos remains.


Indeed there's a lot of work to be done. But we have to be careful not to stay put either 'so that our ego remains'.

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Originally Posted by Mykhayl

After 125 years of US translations there still is not an American standard. If the people are still cling to their 'Svyatiy Bozhe' are you going to tare it from their hearts? If it doesn't happen organically its not our way. Remember Nikon.


Nobody loves a Slavonic 'Sviatiy Bozhe' more than I do. Pastorally, this is indeed a difficult one. In bilingual parishes, compromises can be reached. For example, one could take all the changeable parts (and perhaps some of the longer texts) in the vernacular, while reserving the unchangeable parts in the 'sacred language' (Slavonic, Greek, etc.). I do love the sacred languages, but imagine what would happen when a non-churched person walks into our churches (if we let them) and hears us singing/praying. They may be moved, indeed to repentance of heart, but will they then hear the Gospel being preached in their own language? (see the Epistles of St. Paul).
I agree that there is to be no violent tearing! Pope Benedict XVI adequately sums up the negative effects that follow from this, in his commentary upon the reform of the Latin Liturgy following the Second Vatican Council. People can always work with each other, but it requires much humility and patience. But, with the Holy Spirit, nothing can go wrong!

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Yes you are correct and naturally so am I; compromise. Salt and pepper has been “ponashumo” (our way) since 873 when Saint Methodius and Pope John VIII agreed on tandem scripture readings. Maybe it should be in English and Spanish in some sections of the US, whatever cosmopolitan is not anti US, it just shows inclusivity. If prays are a concert or soloists dominating are they prayers?

The Liturgy needs to be a part of contemporary Life not a Sunday school bible study. TV is teaching our youth how they are expected to live. The only TV churchgoers are usually black sitcoms. White storylines literally battle demons with spells not prayer. There was a Legion of Decency which kept the movies honest for decades. We can write letters to the networks and add a petition in the Liturgy so that our children and those who are influenced by electronic airway icons are protected from entertainment directed by the evil one.

The Holy Spirit is not only a dynamic administrator, but He has a sense of humor. If parish leaders are egocentric, whether it be the clergy, clerical family, cantor, councilors or committee it will fail. If it is His will, even if all seams hopeless often there is a last minute revival FROM GOD. The parish of my youth use to call itself “the most American parish in the diocese” even though they sang everything in "kolomaka" tempo. Then the Fourth Wave came and guess where they landed. By the way the Slavonic / Ukrainian service is usually attended by the American born while the real Ukrainians often attend the English services.

We could brainstorm improvements, but let us leave language to “local custom”. If we are speaking of parishes enough of “one guy” or “this church lady”, instead “I visited this parish and felt welcome because THEY…” How about reaching out to them convert spouses by singing a Protestant hymn before or after "Sluzhba" (Liturg aka Mass)? That is how they teach orthodoxy, but would that be a "Latinization"?

Last edited by Mykhayl; 06/08/08 05:38 PM.
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