The Association of Consecrated Life of the UGCC and RCC in Ukraine is a young and dynamic community, which cares about spiritual support and human development of consecrated persons. This mission is our call and we perform it in Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches.
Above all, our endeavour is to strengthen monks and nuns in their common aspitation to practice their Christian faith and ministry by providing them tools for their spiritual and intellectual growth in both individual and collective dimensions.
In addition, a part of this effort concerns promotion the values of Consecrated Life in Ukrainian society in order to increase the number of new vocations among young people, by encouraging them to be real Christian Christian witnesses for our times. The Association also sees its role as a link between the clergy, the laity and the consecrated persons for successful integration and consolidation their activity in both Catholic Churches.
In practice, the Association team actualizes and performs our main goal by implementing our activity in 7 clearly defined areas:
1. Councelling Room (“Poradnia”)
Counseling Room or Consultation Office of the Association (in Ukrainian: “Poradnia”) is a bright small room, which is situated in the center of Lviv. Depending on the necessity, we organize different types of conversations there: consultation with psychologists, psychotherapeutic practice and spiritual dialogue, as well as sacramental confession. This service, performed in real time, allows receiving a professional consultation for everyone in order to receive real care and help in need. Therefore, people will improve their knowledge about himself. Therefore, this information will lead them to Christian maturity and integrity.
Five certified specialists are involved in the work of the Counseling Room. Their consultative services are provided by consecrated specialists: two priests (psychologist and confessor), as well as three nuns (two psychologists and one spiritual support specialist). The members of this team represent both traditions: Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic.
In recent years, information about functioning of „Poradnia” and the possibility of use the service providing by certified specialists for free was more widespread among consecrated persons, women and men who belong to different communities and live in different locations in Ukraine. In addition, the doors of the Counseling Room are open to seminarians of all theological educational institutions of our country. Therefore, many of them use this opportunity of confidential communication with a psychologists, confessor or spiritual support specialist.
As we see the „Poradnia” as an excellent and proven platform for sharing gifts and for becoming a mature person for consecrated persons, the Association team did a grate job and played an important role in encouraging people to receive professional advice and to seize this opportunity.
2. Formation courses
In addition to the activities of „Poradnia”, the Association organizes periodic several-day meetings for consecrated persons groups. We invite well-known clergymen, experienced psychologists, famous recollectionists and professional experts in a fiels of interpersonal communication to participate as speakers in order to share their knowledge and experience. All of them are representatives of the RCC and UGCC – bishops, priests, monks and nuns.
The Association organizes the formation-training course for spiritual leaders (clergy) also known as “Support in spiritual growth”. This training course is for personal development of spiritual leaders and help them to acquire professional skills in the ministry of spiritual support. The participants of the course are RCC and UGCC clergymen and spiritual leaders from different cities and villages of Ukraine. Instead, the speakers of this event was specialists from Christian spirituality, spiritual support of youth, pastoral ministry, as well as teachers of the theory and practice of interpersonal communication.
Every year the Association organizes a series of periodic meetings on formation for both Greek and Roman Catholic nuns. They take place in the “Center for Peace and Reconciliation”, located in the Bilshivtsi village in Ivano-Frankivsk region. Such meetings consist of 8 modules, and many different specialists are involved in them. There are 4 levels of formation and every participant should to pass them. Level 1 – lectures and practical classes on Theology and Anthropology of the monastic formation; Level 2 – training in groups to acquire knowledge and practical skills in Psychology of communication; Level 3 – partaking in “School of God’s Word prayer” on the basis of reading and meditation on Holy Scriptures (“Lectio Divina”); Level 4 – personal formation through individual conversation.
Every year the Association organizes 5 educational modules for Superiors, Economers and Secretaries of Catholic consecrated communities UGCC and RCC in Ukraine. We call this event „The School of Leadership”. The learning content of those modules is interesting, diverse and dynamic, but at the same time very relevant for leaders in consecrated group of people. The program’s range is very wide: from studying the psychology of self-knowledge to the elements of fundraising, creating grants and writing projects, as well as a strategy for implementing that learning. „School of Leadership” also teaches how to use the psychological knowledge and practical skills to identify our own strengths and weaknesses and learn how to achieve the goal in life, how to overcome fear as well as obstacles to success.
An additional opportunity for the training modules of „School of Leadership” is the use of innovative communication technologies and intermodular communication between participants and trainers. They could build strong relationship over the phone as well as through webinars. During such communication online, participants of the „School of Leadership” could ask individual questions to coaches, having the opportunity to pay attention on topics that interest them, and ask for help in better understandong of not simple topics that were raised during offline meetings.
3. Conferences, seminars, forums…
The Association of Consecrated Life of the UGCC and RCC in Ukraine is the organizer or co-organizer of short-term events, such as conferences, seminars, forums, trainings, and round tables. The aim of these events is to focus participants’ attention on the important challenges that we can notice in society, as well as to deepen their knowledge on a particular topic by acquainting them with new advances in science.
For example, on September 25-28, 2018, the Association organized a forum for consecrated persons from the UGCC and RCC entitled “Consecrated Life in the Age of Digital Culture”. This event took place in Lviv and gathered about 150 participants. During 4 days the speakers shared their information about the activities of the Church in the media world, they try to teach the participants how to present the livestyle and activity of consecrated persons in the media area and social networks. The participants learned how to communicate properly through radio, television and other media channels in modern world. We invited speakers, who are well-known experts on communication, famous journalists, and marketers. They came from Italy, Germany and Ukraine.
In 2019 we organized 4 important events:
On April 13, conference entitled „Teacher quality improvement in Ukraine” took place at the Ukrainian Catholic University. It was attended by 60 participants – teachers and school principals, which were coming from different places of Ukraine. Two keynote speakers arrived: Fausto Presutti, President I.S.P.E.F. He delivered his speech on „Strategies for improving the success of educational process”; and prof. Zbigniew Formella from the Pontifical Salesian University, who gave a lecture on education through example. The participants of the Conference gained knowledge and skills in new methods of value formation in students. They also learned how to develop their potential, gaining information on improving teaching techniques in a Catholic school in order to receive the educational results. In addition, in the practical part of the Conference, working in groups, participants discussed current challenges and shared interesting and useful ideas, experiences and methods for creating a happier school. After the conference, participants were awarded with CEIS Certificate. This document is very important, because is very helpful for all primary and secondary schools in obtaining national and international recognition;
On June 22-23 was organized a seminar entitled “Model of Catholic Education and Upbringing”. It was held at the Don Bosco Youth Training Center in Lviv. The target audience for this event was educators of preschool, and the main purpose of the seminar was to deepen the understanding of the goals and implementation of the tasks in the process of Catholic education. The program of this event contained the following important topics: Christian principles of leadership and governance, community formation in a Catholic educational institution, as well as the basic principles of Catholic education. 29 people attended the seminar. We say about preschool educators and directors in Ukraine. The speaker of the seminar was the Salesian priest Petro Mayba, who is the chairman of the Public Union “Catholic Education”;
On May 1-4, was held a training meeting entitled „Effective communication as a tool to achieve goals”. The target audience for this event were young priests (up to 5 years). The training meeting was attended by 13 young priests from several regions of Ukraine. On the first day, the training was dedicated to the dialogue between the Church and the media, as well as to the issues of content management. In the following days, the training was conducted by an experienced religious journalist Olena Kulyhina, who talked about public relations, social communication of the Church, examples of positive and negative experience of religious units activity in social networks.
Pilgrimage as a religious journey to holy places for Christianity is a traditional opportunity not only to “touch” something sacred and get closer to the origins of Christian spirituality, but also to gain experience of walking together with a group of like-minded people and friends to a predetermined goal.
Therefore, the Association periodically take part in the organization and co-organization of pilgrimage, encouraging consecrated persons to participate in it. In 2019, several pilgrimages were organized:
On February 9, on the Day of Consecrated Life was organized All-Ukrainian pilgrimage for consecrated people of the UGCC in Lutsk city. About 280 persons took part in this pilgrimage. Just before this event a conference and two preparatory meetings was arranged. The Divine Liturgy was broadcasted live on TV as well as streaming video was delivered over the Internet. The worship was accompanied by the monastic choir “Deisis” of Basilian Institute of Philosophical and Theological Studies in Briukhovychi. After all, all participants of the pilgrimage received commemorative icons in memory of the pilgrimage. The group also visited the Lubart’s Castle in Lutsk. The participant of the pilgrimage, Sister Sevastiana Zinkevych mentioned that this pilgrimage became a great opportunity for her to practice unity, to deepen her prayer life and to meet God.
On May 10-11, before the Sunday of the Good Shepherd according to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar a pilgrimage for the consecrated persons of the RCC and the youth was held in Berdychiv. A motto of the pilgrimage was a phrase: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68-69). During this event was organized: a reading of the Holy Scripture, a biblical conference and also friendly meeting for coffee and tea. The project team was consisted of Benedictine Sisters and Carmelite Fathers. The event was also attended by the special guest – Bishop of the Kyiv-Zhytomyr Diocese Vitaliy Kryvyts’kyi. The total number of consecrated persons was 50 people. They came from different parts of the country. Instead, the number of lay people has reached about 200. That pilgrimage was a good attempt to build bridges between consecrated persons, lay people and young Catholics.
On May 11, the XVI All-Ukrainian pilgrimage of Catholic educational institutions to Zarvanytsia took place. Consecrated persons, who are teachers, educators, as well as children with parents – students of various Catholic educational centers attended it. The number of participants was about 1000. They came from different parts of Ukraine. The pilgrimage began with the Divine Liturgy. During the worship, students had the opportunity to say their personal prayer of petition and express their gratitude to God. After all, there was organized an interesting quest for children – “Brave by Faith and Love”. The students of the Zarvanytsia Boarding School for Girls “Znamennia” realized it. Afterwards, was conducted a lecture for the participants, which dealt with the issues of education of modern youth and successful teaching methods for the younger generation. The pilgrimage ended with a joint prayer, by honoring those who gave their lives for Ukraine. After this worship, students laid flowers and lit candles in memory of the heroes.
5. Publishing projects
In 2019, the Association made considerable progress in publishing documents of the Church concerning consecrated life in Ukrainian language. The same is with the new papal documents and letters. Over a period of 12 months, 5 new profile publications were translated, edited and published. These are:
1. ”Economy at the service of the charism and mission”. This document, issued by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, contains important guidelines regards managing of material gifts in the comunity of consecrated persons.
2. ”New wine in new wineskins”. Another important document of the above-mentioned Congregation contains a biblical-theological reflection on the vocation to the consecrated life, by proposing new and real ways to answer challenges that have arisen for communities of consecrated life.
3. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Holy Father Pope Francis „Christus vivit”. This exhortation is addressed to young people and to the entire people of God. The document is written in accessible language and deeply imbued with the religious observance of Pope Francis and understanding of the worldview of young generation.
4. Apostolic Letter „Admirabile signum” of the Holy Father Francis on the meaning and importance of the Nativity Scene presents to the God’s flock the wise and deep reflections of the Holy Father on the role and significance of the manger scene in the evangelization of the world.
5. Apostolic Letter issued Motu proprio by the Supreme Pontiff Francis “Vos estis lux mundi” („You are the light of the world”) contains new legal norms of the Catholic Church on annoying cases of abuse and violence, in which could be involved members of Church’s hierarchy. This document also clarifies the procedure for ecclesiastical penalty for those who is guilty.
In order to spread information on these Ukrainian-language versions of important documents the Association team organized presentations and discussions. The Association announced these events through the website and social networks as well as printed materials.
6. Evangelization of society
The Association tries to spread the eternal and unchanging values of the Gospel of Christ in society. We are sure that consecrated life is the very core and essence of the Gospel. We try to evangelize Ukrainian society in two ways: virtually and in real communication.
1. Communication through the use of new electronic media occurs through the periodic updating of thr publications on web pages and social networks (Facebook and Instagram). Through this communication we try not only to spread a positive image of the Church, because of the hard work of consecrated persons the whole Ukrainian society is gradually changes, but also to acquaint Internet users with real events in the life of consecrated persons in Eastern and Western Christianity.
In addition, we try to „unveil the mystery” of monasteries and its life in order to bring the new image of the monks and nuns closer to contemporary world. That is why the Association shares two author’s columns. In the first column we present well-known and interesting inventions, contributed by the the consecrated persons, and in the second column we talk about the life achievements of an individual monk or nun, taking into account interesting facts from their real lives, trying to present interesting stories that happened to them.
2. Live and real communication of the Gospel plays extremely important and indispensable role for our times. Therefore, the Association tries to convey the values of consecrated life in communication with the laity. For example, on September 15, 2019, when the All-Ukrainian Festival for Youth „Wind of Hope” started in Lviv, we took an important work in building bridges with the lay people. Festival „Wind of Hope” is a large-scale youth meeting organized by the UGCC, but it is also the ecumenical event and it seems to be the open platform, which allows consecrated people to communicate with young people. The main topic of last year festiwal was: unity and interaction in the community. So, the Association created a platform for communication called „(Non) Black Tent”. This ordinary tent became a space, which facilitated communication between consecrated persons and lay people who are young. First, we organized a creative meeting there, and later arranged lectures on monastic life in the era of urbanization. This lecture could to strengthen missionary consciousness among young Ukrainians and to give them power to spread Christian values. In addition, the Studite Father Makariy Dutka, who is the winner of the Powerlifting World Cup, in his speech tried to combine two trajectories – sports and spirituality. He explained the importance and need of these two areas in human life.
7. Friends Meetings
Friends meetings with informal dialogues are the best moments of our life. The Association gained many friends and respect since its fonundation few years. Therefore, every year we organize two types of informal meetings: learning and celebratory.
Learning meetings are in-house gathering of consecrated persons over a cup of coffee with the opportunity to gain new learning experience, as well as to meet interesting guests. For example, during 2019, the Carmel Café hosted several meetings with interesting guests from abroad. The interactive dialogues were conducted in Italian. The purpose of this event was to practice the Italian language, as well as make new acquaintance with an interesting speaker. Consecrated men and women in a family atmosphere discussed the difficulties and challenges of the formation process and new ways of seeing it.
Celebratory meetings are communication in a wider group of people, which the Association organize since 5 year before Christmas and New Year. We call this event „Christmas Coffee”. Such a meeting takes place in Carmel Café and its participants are friends and benefactors of the Association, who share the same values as we do. They help our team move forward towards achieving our goal. In 2019, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyj visited „Christmas Coffee” meeting. An event of this format helps to create community with friendly atmosphere with live music. It inspires participants to share their experiences, and Christmas melodies introduce the mystery of the meeting of the newborn Christ. We can say that the family atmosphere gives the opportunity to develop new ideas, to analyze the year that passes and to plan activities for the future. This pre-Christmas event is highly appreciated by visitors.