Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 9th September, 4pm

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.

To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.

The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.




Sunday, 8 April 2012

Eternal Memory: Very Reverend Archimandrite Serge Keleher Remembered

Father John Salter, chairman, writes in Chrysostom, Pascha 2012:

Father Serge was known to me for almost twenty years and was instrumental in guiding me into the Unia. I travelled abroad with him on several occasions and was astounded at his seemingly unlimited
energy and his ability to raise funds for deserving causes in Eastern Europe, including an expensive deaf-aid for a son of one of the Greek Catholic priests in Lviv.

Serge was an enthusiastic supporter of Orientale Lumen, the series of conferences organised by our sister Society of St John Chrysostom in the United States; and I got to know him at their gathering some years ago in Warwickshire, which was organized by Jack Figel. Jack and Serge produced the very informative Eastern Churches’ Journal, the organ of our American branch. He also supported Joe Farrelly's work in the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary and travelled over from New York to be present with us at the Sacred Heart Convent School in Woldingham for one of its summer conferences.

My first trip abroad with Serge was to Rome, where we stayed at the Ukrainian Catholic centre of SS.Sergius and Bacchus, near the Coliseum, and met for the first time the “secret” Bishop Lubomyr Husar, later to become Patriarch of Kyiv-Halych. Serge's energy knew no bounds and while the moon was still shining we would set out every morning before breakfast for the 6 a.m. Divine Liturgy at the Russian Catholic College, “The Russicum”. After the Liturgy we would stay on with the fathers for
breakfast and it was here I first met Archimandrite Robert Taft S.J., the Vice Rector of the Russicum and a leading liturgiologist.

Whilst in Rome we met Bishop Basil Losten of Stamford, Connecticut, who invited me to join his jurisdiction. With this in view we visited Cardinal Cassidy and made our way to the Oriental Institute and the Greek College of St. Anastasio, on the Via del Babuino. Here I met for the first time Father George Mifsud and renewed my acquaintance with Archpriest Alexander Nadson of the Byelorussian Marian House in London, whom I had encountered at Gatwick in the line-up for the flight to Rome, and the students of the college. Later we visited for lunch the Ukrainian College of St. Joshaphat on the Janiculum, and its neighbour the recently re-opened Roumanian Catholic College, in the hands of the Benedictines.

My next trip with Serge was to Lviv in the Western Ukraine. I met with Serge the night before our flight, for dinner at the Athenaeum. Serge was very excited at the prospect of the visit and was talking so excitedly that he seemed to leave out all the main verbs in his sentences. We flew to Warsaw and I had to find accommodation in the Polish capital as Serge had not included me in his over-night arrangements, so an expensive night was spent in the Grand Hotel in central Warsaw. The next day, having visited the site of the Warsaw Ghetto, I made my way to the airport for the flight to Lviv. We flew in a most primitive aircraft and were served stale Madeira cake and Andrew's liver salts by large over made-up air hostesses. We arrived safely in Lviv and stayed with a young Ukrainian Catholic family in their flat. Our visits started with a call on the newly elected Catholic Patriarch – Cardinal Lubachevsky at the splendid rococo cathedral of St. George.

In Lviv Serge seemed to know all the Church leaders and we paid a courtesy call on a young Archbishop, Augustine, of the Moscow Patriarchate, who greeted us with a tirade against Uniates and Anglicans, and claiming that he should be at St. George's. I pointed out to him that St. George's had been built by the “Uniate” family of Sheptytsky, and hadnever been Russian Orthodox. He calmed down and treated us to vodka, an excellent four course lunch and presented us with splendid coffee table books. Our next port of call was on a Ukrainian Orthodox bishop who plied us with Georgian pink champagne and seemed to be on the verge of joining the Unia.

We went on by car from Lviv to a remote “Uniate” village of Kosmoloty back in Poland, where we met the local Bishop John Martyniak of Premsyl and paid our respects to some “Uniate” martyrs from the village, who had been slaughtered by the Cossacks. The villagers regaled us with stories of how when the Secret Police were searching out Eastern Catholics they turned around the sign post to Kostomoloty and the police were left looking for the village in the No Man's Land of the
Byelorussian frontier!

We then crossed the frontier into Byelorussia. The endless line of large lorries seemed to indicate an all night wait, which was a daunting prospect, but Serge put on his rason, his pectoral cross and his klobuk hat and veil, and ordered our driver to bypass the lorries and to declare him a V.I.P. His cheek worked and we were whisked through the frontier in no time.

We parted at Warsaw airport and I did not see Serge again until the gathering some years later in Dublin of the Order of St. Lazarus and the Pontifical Liturgy served by Patriarch Gregorios III of the Melkites. Serge had choreographed the liturgy and had put a great deal of the Irish language into its compilation. This ensured the liturgy was almost twice its normal length and the patriarch had to catch a flight to Vienna for the funeral of the Primate of Austria. His Beatitude left just before the last part of the liturgy; and as soon as he had gone Serge plonked a mitra on his head and concluded the liturgy. At the banquet in Dublin Castle attended by the President of Ireland, Serge, a fervent Irish Nationalist and a Jacobite, was very keen on drinking a toast to The King Over the Water. I intervened in time to stop him, by pointing out that the O'Conor Don, great nephew of the late O'Connor Don, the aged Jesuit priest, was at the next table, and in comparison with the descent of the High Kings of Ireland the Stuarts were very arriviste!

Serge always imagined that everything could be dropped at a moment's notice to assist him or stand in for him at the Liturgy in Dublin, and I remember when I was on my way to Bruges for a Catholic League gathering that he demanded my presence in Dublin to serve the liturgy while he was away. He wanted me to fly from Bruges to Dublin and back again. It was quite out of the question, but he was not easily convinced.

Time passed and I next saw Serge at the enthronement of Bishop Hlib as Exarch at the Ukrainian Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile, in Mayfair. It was a question of “Ichabod”. Serge had failed dramatically. He was stooping with arthritis and his kidneys were failing. He died shortly after his return to Dublin.

His memorial will be his generosity and his writings, particularly his editorship of The Eastern Churches’ Journal, and his translation of Koralevsky's life of Metropolitan Count Andrei Sheptysky and Koralevsky's essay on Uniatism, together with his account of the resurrection of the Greek Catholic Church in the Ukraine.

Father Serge's funeral was in Dublin and was conducted by The Apostolic Exarch, the Most Reverend Hlib (Lonchyna) in the presence of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. It was a sign of Serge's popularity in the Ukrainian community that priests had travelled for the service from Canada and the Ukraine. His body was laid to rest in the cemetery of Mount Jerome, Dublin.

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