Pastoral Missionary Department of the Patriarchal Curia acquainted with spiritual life of Ukrainians in Portugal


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On April 9-21, 2010, Bishop Joseph (Milyan), the head of the Pastoral Missionary Department of the Patriarchal Curia, auxiliary bishop of Kyivan Archeparchy of the UGCC, and Fr. Vasyl Potochnyak, the secretary general of the department, visited the cities with large communities of Ukrainian immigrants in Portugal.

"The situation is not bad. People have a spiritual guidance. Someone who is looking for our church can find it. The only thing that is needed is for the church to make the efforts to minister our faithful where they live and work," described Bishop Joseph. On St. Thomas Sunday Bishop Joseph jointly with two bishops of the Lisbon patriarchate and thirteen priests celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the large church of Franciscan monastery in Lisbon. Over one thousand faithful from Greek Catholic communities in all cities where Ukrainian immigrants live came to the festive service. Church galleries from Fatima and Lisbon jointly sang on the Liturgy.

The feast finished with a spiritual concert and hajivky (spring ritual) singing with participation of art collectives that are active in the Ukrainian diaspora of Portugal. The Ambassador of Ukraine in Portugal Rostyslav Tronenko participated in the event. During the visit, the head of the Pastoral Missionary Department of the UGCC took part in the meeting of Episcopal Conference of Portugal, which lasted from April 12-15 in Lisbon. Bishop Joseph expressed gratitude to the bishops of Portugal for meeting the spiritual needs of the Ukrainians and the assistance given to Greek Catholic priests in the pastoral ministry in Portugal. In addition, the head of the department conducted negotiations about the possibility of signing special contracts with Ukrainian pastors in Portugal.

"We noticed that Portugal could use more Greek Catholic priests. If there were more priests, the number of communities would grow and, accordingly, the care of our faithful would improve," stated Bishop Joseph. According to him, this would be possible if there was a better chance for married priests to minister in Portugal. "We have many married priests who have good educations and know foreign languages. They would be able to serve our faithful in this country, if helped by the local episcopate," remarked Bishop Joseph.

During its stay in Portugal, the delegation of the UGCC visited two Ukrainian schools in Lisbon and met with representatives of Ukrainian public organizations. As informed by Bishop Joseph, today minister ten Greek Catholic priests who obtain considerable assistance from the side of Portuguese clergies. For example, two Basilian Greek Catholic priests who recently arrived in Lisbon to carry out their ministry were given a small church in the center of the capital for their ministry and were provided with lodgings and access to a car.

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