Every second Saturday of the month, Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ.
4pm Divine Liturgy. Next: 13th November 2021

Very sadly, the Divine Liturgy in English at 9-30 am on Sundays at the Holy Family Cathedral, Lower Church, have had to be put on hold. Until the practicalities we cannot use the Lower Church space. Hopefully this will be resolved very soon. Please keep checking in here for details.

Owing to public health guidance, masks should still be worn indoors and distance maintained. Sanitisers are available. Holy Communion is distributed in both kinds from the mixed and common chalice, by means of a separate Communion spoon for each individual communicant.

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.

Monday 12 October 2009

Visit of Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk to Pope Benedict

Robert Moynihan, writing September 21 2009 for Zenit, posed the question, Will the "Third Rome" Reunite With the "First Rome"? and concludes that the recent 5 day visit of Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev from the Department of External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, representing His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill I, to the Holy Father Pope benedict XVI could mark the turning point. (Read the full article here.)

There have been no official communiques, but the meetings with the Pope, Cardinal Kasper at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and other officials were clearly cordial. Moynihan wonders whether 'the silence suggests that what transpired was important'.

Indeed there was some interesting intelligence. Cardinal Kasper revealed on Vatican Radio his suggestion to Archbishop Hilarion that the Orthodox bishops form a bishops' conference at the European level. Something similar is indeed to form part of the agenda for the forthcoming Pan-Orthodox Synod, but at national levels. Kasper said that a European conference would constitute a "direct partner of cooperation" with Roman Catholic bishops. Catholic and Anglican bishops have begun to work on a similar approach through the International Anglican & Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission, but also mainly at the provincial or national level. A pan-European conference of Orthodox bishops would correspond with the Consilium of Bishops' Conferences of Europe and the existing Conference of European Churches, which includes Orthodox and Reformation Christians, but not Catholics. But as yet there is no Europe-wide forum for focusing on Catholic-Orthodox relations and common work and witness.

An official meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch is not planned for the immediate future, but Cardinal Kasper remarked that it would be more likely to take place in a neutral territory, such Hungary, Austria or Belarus.

Interfax, the news service of the Moscow Patriarchate, on September 18 revealed that Archbishop Hilarion spoke to the Pope about 'cooperation between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches in the area of moral values and of culture'. Moynihan observes that, while the Russian Orthodox Church is growing at home, it is not without enemies and opposition and looks increasingly to friends and allies.

Interfax later reported that during his meeting with the Pope, Archbishop Hilarion drew attention to the status of Orthodox believers in Western Ukraine, which is the main centre of activity and life for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Interfax stated that this was where three Orthodox dioceses had been almost eliminated as a result of 'coercive actions' of Greek Catholics in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and spoke of the need to improve the situation in Western Ukraine," within the territories of Lvov, Ternopol and Invano-Frankovsk Dioceses.

But the report did not however mention the decades of suppression of the Ukrainian Catholic Church during the Soviet period and the coercion to become Orthodox, nor the restoration of Greek Catholic life in independent Ukraine and the recovery and restitution of churches and other property. Nor was mention made of the warmer relations and cooperatoin between Ukrainian Catholics and Orthodox in modern Ukraine, despite the sad divisions that had arisen within the Orthodox community itself. It makes all the more pertinent Archbishop Hilarion's words in the homily he preached when he served the Divine Liturgy in Rome's catacomb of Saint Callixtinus:
Human sin is the cause of all divisions, while Christian unity can be restored only in the way of sanctity. Each of us, conscientiously fulfilling a task the Church has given him or her, is called to personally contribute to the treasury of Christian sanctity and work to achieve God-commanded Christian unity.

To read Archbishop Hilarion's interview with Interfax, The Consolidation of Orthodox diasporas can lead to the emergence of new Local Orthodox Churches, looking forward to the Pan-Orthodox Synod and its likely discussions, click here.

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Permanent Synod, London September 2009

In September 2009, London welcomed His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and his fellow hierarchs of the Permanent Synod. Among the Synod's business were preparations for the forthcoming Synod of the entire hierarchy of the Church planned to take place in Ukraine in 2010.

The Divine Liturgy celebrated on Sunday 27th September was the also the occasion for the installation of the new Apostolic Administrator of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Exarchate of Great Britain, Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, in the Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, Mayfair.

His Beatitude installs Bishop Hlib Lonchyna

His Beatitude addressing the faithful at the Cathedral. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster is in attendance.

Bishop Hlib blesses Cardinal Lubomyr and then His Grace the Archbishop of Westminster and the Papal Nuncio Archishop Faustino Sainz Munoz

Thursday 1 October 2009

The Year for Priests: The Eastern Curé d'Ars, Fr Beshara Abou Mrad

The Holy Synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church has studied the announcement from Pope Benedict XVI of a Year of the Priest 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010. In order to commemorate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of Jean-Marie Vianney (April 25 2009), patron of parish priests throughout the world, the Synod suggested some commemoratory activities
  • firstly, to address a letter in the name of the Patriarch and the Holy Synod to all priests;
  • second, to present the Servant of God Beshara Abou Mrad, Salvatorian Father, as a model for parish priests;
  • thirdly, to prepare a congress for all priests of the Melkite Church;
  • fourthly, to publish some leaflets about the priestly vocation and
  • fifthly, to organise meetings in the various congregations, schools, universities and parish movements so as to invite young people to consider the priesthood as a vocation.
A committee was appointed under the leadership of Archbishop Selim Ghazal to supervise the whole celebration of this year. The Patriarch Gregorios is preparing the letter, taking into consideration eventual suggestions from bishops.

Beshara Abou Mrad BSO, Melkite Priest - An Eastern Curé d'Ars

The following presentation, given by His Beatitude to His Holiness at their meeting on 19 September 2009 in Castelgandolfo, aims to draw out from the discourses of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI the characteristics of the spiritual life of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney that are to be found in the life of Father Beshara Abou Mrad (1853-1930), a monk of the Basilian Salvatorian Order in Lebanon.

  • The Curé d'Ars dedicated himself with all his might to shepherding his flock, making his chief priority the religious education and edification of the people confided to his care.
The pastoral zeal of Father Beshara Abou Mrad and his devotion to his parish were shown through his motto taken from the Prophet Ezekiel, “I have placed thee as guardian of this people and for each soul that is lost, I shall require in its stead thine own.” (Ezekiel 17:3) This strong conviction created in him a huge respect for the priestly ministry and for the service of souls.
  • The Curé d'Ars dedicated his life to humble, patient work. He undertook to be the faithful servant of the holiness of the service entrusted to him, so he decided to make the parish church his home: he went into it before sunrise and only went out after the Angelus prayer...
The parishioners of Deir Al-Qamar would speak with respect and veneration of Father Beshara. According to them he is a saint, as they never saw him but with arms outstretched in prayer: he would spend his time in church, ceaselessly repeating hymns to the Mother of God. Old people from the parish tell how, having been woken by the sound of the bell, they were astonished to see their priest already kneeling before the altar, meditating in deep silence.
  • The Curé d'Ars used to visit all sick persons and their families and take care of orphans... by his own witness he taught his parishioners.
Father Beshara, following his Saviour’s example “took upon himself people’s frailties and bore their sicknesses.” He continually visited all the families, giving special care to all its members, both young and old. He took care of the sick and suffering, offering them heavenly nourishment and helping them bear their illness, and above all ensuring that the dying received the sacraments.
  • The Curé d'Ars affirms, “Good works cannot match the sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the work of humanity, but the Liturgy is God’s work.” He was convinced that the life of the priest is dependent upon the Eucharist.
Before the Church of the Annunciation was built, Beshara Abou Mrad used to begin the day with Mass in one of the houses among the villages he served. Nothing could stop him celebrating Mass - neither cold, nor rain, nor unseasonal weather.

People from the region recall how often they helped him cross the river by ladder because of torrential currents. Seeing their astonishment at his zeal, he would say to them, “What rain, what cold? Could I leave you without Mass?"
  • The Curé d'Ars sought by preaching and other means to enable the rediscovery of the meaning and beauty of the sacrament of Reconciliation, which is, according to him, an inseparable condition for receiving the Eucharist. And it is unforgettable how crowds used to flick from all over France to make confession.
The reputation of Father Beshara in the villages in the Saida region and the districts around Deir Al-Qamar, made him a source of blessing for the people of those villages who would come to him. In fact, he would spend most weekdays hearing confession. He would go from school to school and church to church, spending hours hearing the confessions of several hundred people, taking back the lost sheep to the Father’s house. Everybody wanted to go to him for confession and receive his blessing. As a result he no longer had enough time to pray. Therefore, so as to be able to pray, he decided to sleep in church under the pretext of keeping alight the sanctuary lamp in front of the Holy Sacrament.
  • The poverty, chastity and obedience of the Curé d'Ars were an example to be followed for the priests of his day. He was poor among the poor. What was his he considered as belonging to others. His life was entirely dedicated to God and his Church.
The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience were like an eighth sacrament for Father Beshara. In fact he lived like the most deprived of the poor. In his room there were but a bed and a wooden crate that he used as a wardrobe ... he gave the presents he received to the poor, withholding nothing for himself.

He would habitually eat as the poor did. Father Malatios Khoury said of him that he ate half what others ate. The countless sacrifices and mortifications that he made and the hours of prayers that he spent in front of the Holy Sacrament were so many tokens of his chastity.

For Father Beshara, God’s will was manifest in the will of his superiors.