Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski has overseen the Ukrainian Greek Catholic community in England, Wales and Scotland for the past two years. Monday, the Vatican announcement that he will also be responsible for the faithful in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Pope Francis appointed Nowakowski on July 4 as Apostolic Visitor of Ukrainian Greek Catholics on the island of Ireland. In the Latin Church, a visitor (or visitor) is an official who carries out an often delicate short-term mission on behalf of the pope. But in the Eastern Catholic Church, a visitor has a longer-term role in overseeing communities that do not have their own bishop.
Nowakowski said The pillar“In practical terms, this means that I will work closely with the Roman Catholic bishops of Ireland to ensure that we are able to offer good pastoral care to Ukrainian Catholics residing in Ireland and Northern Ireland, in order to to be able to be a liaison between the bishops of Ireland with regard to our Ukrainian Catholic faithful and the Holy See and, of course, with our Synod of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic bishops.
“It probably means being able to visit our only parish in Dublin and speak with the only priest there and consider the possibility of establishing other communities or mission points, especially given the influx of over 30 000 people fleeing danger and arriving in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
In total nearly 5.5 million Ukrainian refugees have settled in surrounding European countries since the large-scale Russian invasion on February 24. Some 87,000 people have arrived in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and almost 39,000 (mainly women and children) in the Republic of Ireland.
Nowakowski stressed that newcomers need compassion, “signs of hope and care” and a listening ear.
“It’s been my experience, both here in the UK and also in other parts of Europe that I’ve visited recently, that people really need to know that people care about them and that there is a place where they can come,” he said. said.
“I think the Church should always be seen as a beacon, where those beacons of hope are, and it’s not just an electronically driven beacon, but there’s actually a human being that can providing a sympathetic ear, prayers and the ability for people to know that God loves them.
From Canada to Ukraine
Nowakowski was born on May 16, 1958, in North Battleford, in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. After his priestly ordination in 1989, he left for Ukraine, where he worked as chief of staff to the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Cardinal Myroslav Lubashivsky. Nowakowski was among the founders of Caritas Ukrainewho has lost staff during the war, serving as the aid organization’s first president from 1994 to 2001.
Back in Canada, he served as rector of the Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Ottawa until 2007, when he was appointed head of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of New Westminsterat the age of 49.
In January 2020, he was appointed head of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London. Three days after his enthronement, England was placed under nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
“So I was not able, during those first months, to travel and visit my parishes, visit Ukrainian communities, meet my clergy,” Nowakowski recalls.
“And just when things seemed to be opening up, myself, even after being vaccinated, I got COVID and was pretty seriously ill and needed time to recover.”
Building in Brittany
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic community in England dates back to the end of the 19th centurywhen Ukrainian immigrants settled in the industrial city of Manchester, as well as in London.
An Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian Catholics in England and Wales was established in 1957. Scotland was added to its jurisdiction 10 years later. A few months before his resignation in 2013, Benedict XVI elevated it to the rank of eparchy (the equivalent of a Latin rite diocese).
The eparchy, centered on the Cathedral of the Holy Family in London, served about 13,500 people at last count, with 16 priests ministering in 15 parishes and 20 mission points.
The war greatly increased the number of people in need of pastoral care. Nowakowski said his main thought since the full-scale invasion was “how can we help those who are fleeing?”
“With the organization called the Association of Ukrainians of Great Britain and a few other stakeholders, the Catholic Eparchy founded a Ukrainian reception center to help those who have been displaced and arrived here in the UK,” the 64-year-old Bishop said.
“Both for those who arrived, but also for those who sponsor people [providing accommodation]to be able to have a place to come, even if it’s just to have a cup of tea or coffee and a cookie and talk – or practical matters like enrolling children in school, registering for problems health, referral to other agencies that can help, perhaps legal advice.
Nowakowski prepares to attend a meeting of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Poland later this week. The rally, which will take place near the border with Ukraine, will be the first such in-person gathering since 2019.
The bishop said it was vital for Catholics around the world to continue to pay attention to Ukraine as the initial shock of the war subsides.
“The most important thing – and I stress this many times – is to keep ourselves in prayer, to remember Ukraine, not to let it slip on the horizon because it may have become an old news. It’s very important,” he said.
“And we cannot expect our leaders or world leaders to bring peace to troubled parts of the world like Ukraine if they are not from communities that encourage and sustain peace in our neighborhood, in our houses in our neighborhood. And I think that would be an important thing that we can all do.
“And of course don’t let fake news, or fake news as we know it, be what influences how we respond and react.”