Repost: A prayer to Saint Josaphat. 

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was a Ukrainian (Greek Catholic) archbishop. He labored in Polotsk for the reunion of the separated brethren with the Catholic Church. His untiring zeal caused his premature death. On Nov. 13, 1623 he was killed by the enemies of the reunion. 

O Saint Josaphat, wonderful Saint and heroic martyr for the union of our Church with the Vicar of Christ, the Pope of Rome. Thou are glorious on account of thy zeal in the propagation of the true Catholic faith among our people. Thou art wonderful because of thy heroic martyrdom for the unity of faith of our people with the Holy See of Rome, the true center of orthodox Catholicism.

Thou art admirable on account of thy sublime virtues with which thou has adorned thy soul. We admire thy ardent love for Jesus and Mary and thy allegiance to the Vicar of Christ. Thou art a sublime example of all virtues for the people of whom thou wert born. 

Since thou art so powerful with God as thy miracles prove, I ask thee to obtain for me from Jesus and Mary a strong attachment to the Catholic faith and my beautiful Eastern Rite which I shall never betray nor abandon. 

Obtain also the grace of indefatigable zeal that I may labor for the reunion of my separated Eastern Brethren.

O glorious martyr of our Catholic Church, remember the nation of which thou wert a son, look at our people and pray to God for future reunion of all Ukrainians under one fold and one shepherd. 

May the day come soon in which all thy Brethren will assemble before thy holy relics in a free and independent Ukraine to give thanks to God for the union of all Ukrainians with the Holy See. Amen.

(Excerpted from pages 126-127 of the Ukrainian Rite prayerbook, My Divine Friend by Rev. Michael Schudlo, CSSR. Published 1959 Imprimi Potest: Vladimir Malanchuk, CSSR. Vice-Provincial No. 596, May 25, 1958. Nihil Obstat: Basil Makuch, STD, PhD. Censor Episcopalis. Imprimatur: Constantine Archbishop Metropolitan Philadelphia, August 1, 1958 No. 767/52M.)


Apologetics 1.9: Catholic teaching on idolatry, icons, and the True God!

It is commonly argued by Protestants that the Catholic Church teaches to worship saints and images of them. Even though this is commonly claimed, what does the Catholic Church really teach in this regard?

1. The Church teaches that the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) alone is God.


The first ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, the council of Nicea (325 A.D.) in regards to the belief in God, the Trinity: I believe in one God, the Father almighty,maker of heaven and earth,of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary”

• Catechism of the Catholic Church (234) :

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith”.56 The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin”.

• St. Ignatius of Antioch: “The prophets, who were men of God, lived according to Jesus Christ. For that reason they were persecuted, inspired as they were by his grace to convince the disobedient that there is one God, who manifested himself through his Son, Jesus Christ, who is his Word proceeding from silence, and who was in all respects pleasing to him that sent him” (Letter to the Magnesians 8:1 [A.D. 110]).

• The ancient Creed of St Athanasius:
“Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith.For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever. This is what the Catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity.”

• Irenaeus “For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Against Heresies 1:10:1 [A.D. 189]).

What does the Catholic Church teach in regards to images of God, the Theotokos, and Mary?
The Catholic Church infallibly teaches that the worship of saints and images is blasphemy and heresy, for the Trinity alone is God.


• The Second Council of Nicaea (787) addressed the heresy of iconoclasm. This was the heresy that taught images of God and the saints must be smashed since they were allegedly worshiped by Catholics. (Which is false and would be blasphemy and heresy.)

“[T]he one who redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous insanity, Christ our God, when he took for his bride his holy Catholic Church . . . promised he would guard her and assured his holy disciples saying, ‘I am with you every day until the consummation of this age.’ . . . To this gracious offer some people paid no attention; being hoodwinked by the treacherous foe they abandoned the true line of reasoning . . . and they failed to distinguish the holy from the profane, asserting that the icons of our Lord and of his saints were no different from the wooden images of satanic idols.”

• The Catechism of the Council of Trent, page 227, teaches that idolatry is of the devil. In objection to the accusation that Catholics worship images, it states that this is committed when:

“As far as this Commandment is concerned, it is clear that there are two chief ways in which God’s majesty can be seriously outraged. The first way is by worshipping idols and images as God, or believing that they possess any divinity or virtue entitling them to our worship, by praying to, or reposing confidence in them, as the Gentiles did, who placed their hopes in idols, and whose idolatry the Scriptures frequently condemn.”

• The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following in regards to idolatry: “Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who ‘transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God’” (CCC 2114).

Apologetics 1.5: The doctrine and dogma of: ‘No salvation outside the Catholic Church’

The Catholic Church has always taught that there is no salvation outside of her.
You may be wondering why the Church would teach this very truth since there are many other self professed Christian sects. However, the question remains; which Church did Jesus establish and where is it today; considering that all churches outside the Catholic Church were established by men?

These sects (which happen to be 35,000+) all disagree with each other upon doctrine because of their personal interpretation of scripture, something that is against scripture itself. (2 Peter 1:20). Scripture makes it clear that there is “one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5) What other Church, besides the Catholic Church, has been united in faith ever since 33 A.D.? What other church upholds the ancient faith? None.
First things first, let it be advised that this does not mean that all you have to do is be a member of the Church and you are saved. It’s quite the contrary since we must work out our salvation (Phil 2:12) and always repent when we sin. (Lk 13:3)

It means that the Church is necessary for salvation since she: 1. Is the true church. (1 Cor 3:15) 2. Has access to the sacraments in which are necessary for salvation. (Baptism: Mk 16:16, Eucharist: Jn 6:54, Confession: John 20:21-23 & Lk 13:3) 3. Is founded by Christ (Matt 16:18) in where Jesus is the Head (Col 1:18) (note, the church doesn’t teach that the Pope is the head, but the visible head.) and is His very body. Romans 12:5 “In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.”

1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:17 “Because there is the one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf.”‬ ‭
Note what these scriptures say: One Body. If the Church is One Body united in One Lord, One Faith, & One Baptism, who’s to say there’s salvation outside of her since there isn’t salvation outside of Christ Himself? (Acts 4:12)

To say that there are many churches of God is to say that there are many bodies of Christ. This is unbiblical since there is only One Body, UNO! To say there are many bodies is to insist that Christ is not a singular being, a blasphemous heresy insisted by the Nestorians. It also suggests that there are many bodies of Christ, again, a blasphemous heresy.
One interesting thing to note is that the bible never speaks upon there being multiple churches, but a Church. That’s right. This Church alone has the truth, and it is the truth that will set us free (John 8:32) since Christ is the Truth (John 1:14,John 1:17, John 14:6); and Truth is found within His Church alone. ( 1 Tim 3:15)

With that in mind, He established a Singular Church upon Peter the Rock (Matt 16:18). The Catholic Church is the only Church that can claim this because of the fact that no other church has complete lineage to the apostles, where as other churches were founded by men that teach heresy. (While the schismatic orthodox have apostolic succession, their religion was also founded by men, that being Photious and Michael Celuarius.)
As a kid, you may have been told the story of Noah’s ark. This ark is the very prefigurement of the Church since there was no salvation outside of it. Those who were outside of it perished. This is why she is referred to as the “Ark of Salvation”.

Saint Jerome (died A.D. 420): “As I follow no leader but Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. …This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. …And as for heretics, I have never spared them; on the contrary, I have seen to it in every possible way that the Church’s enemies are also my enemies.”

Saint Peter Canisius (died A.D. 1597): “Outside of this communion – as outside of the ark of Noah – there is absolutely no salvation for mortals: not for Jews or pagans who never received the faith of the Church, nor for heretics who, having received it, corrupted it; neither for the excommunicated or those who for any other serious cause deserve to be put away and separated from the body of the Church like pernicious members…for the rule of Cyprian and Augustine is certain: he will not have God for his Father who would not have the Church for his mother.” (Catechismi Latini et Germanici)
Since the Catholic Church is referred to as a boat, let me ask you one question. 1. During a storm or in the midsts of the sea, let’s say in the middle of the Atlantic for example, would you jump ship all because you do not like the captain? No, right? Would you also jump ship all because you disagree with Church teaching? Or because of the many sinners that are in her? To do so is to put oneself in danger.

“Then the sailors tried to escape from the ship; they lowered the boat into the water and pretended that they were going to put out some anchors from the front of the ship. But Paul said to the army officer and soldiers, “If the sailors don’t stay on board, you have no hope of being saved.”‭‭ (Acts‬ ‭27:30-31‬)
Does this mean that non Catholics cannot be saved? No. The bible, Magisterium & early church fathers teach that those who are not aware that the Church is the true church, but try to obey God’s natural law and live a holy life, can possibly be saved.
“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”(CCC 846)

Jesus’ own teaching about those who innocently reject him: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin” (Jn 15:22).
“If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (Jn 9:41). Paul taught likewise concerning the Gentiles:

“When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 2:14-15)

Addressing False Ecumenism 1.2: False Ecumenism in the East: a betrayal to the martyrs

In the Catholic East, it is not uncommon to hear that we are the “Eastern Orthodox Church in communion with Rome” or “we are the voice of the Orthodox Church in communion with Rome.”

While it is true that we are the bridge between the Catholic Church and the many divided churches of the East in whom sadly happen to be in schism with Rome; and while it is also true that we are Orthodox (because of our profession of the Catholic Faith); it must be brought to our attention that there is a Catholic identity problem within the East just as there is within the West.

This is because there is a misconception of who we as Eastern Catholics are; whether we be Byzantine, Maronite, Coptic, Syro Malabar etc.

Among many beloved Eastern Catholics of good will, there happens to be an emotional attachment to the Eastern Orthodox Church because of its similarities in regards to theology and liturgical rites.

Having encountered many Eastern Catholics, it is not uncommon to hear that the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Churches are equivalent to the Catholic Church because of the validity of the 7 sacraments, the veneration of saints etc.
Even though these separated churches have valid sacraments and many similarities with the Church, it must be remembered that they are separated for a reason – that is – because of their bitter rejection of the deposit of faith in regards to submission to Peter, the Pope.

“You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head—that is why he is also called Cephas [‘Rock’]—of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all” (Optatus, The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).

With that in mind, we here at HolySynergy must note that many Eastern Catholics have died at the hands of schismatics and communists because of this very key doctrine. Being that they are our ancestors as martyrs and saints of the church; insisting that the Orthodox are the same Church as the Catholic Church, or at least equivalent, is a slap in the face to these very saints.

Not only is it a slap in the face to these saints, it is also a heresy to insist that the true Church of Christ can be found in any other communion besides the Catholic Church.Let’s take a look at these very brave, pious, reverent, and holy martyrs of the Catholic East.

1. The Pratulin Martyrs.

“The Pratulin Martyrs were a group of 13 Greek Catholic believers killed by the Imperial Russian Army on January 24, 1874, in the village of Pratulin, near Biała Podlaska. Following the secularization and de-legalization of the Eparchy of Chełm, the Russian authorities forcibly subdued all Belorussian Catholics and their churches to the Russian Orthodox Church.
In a protest against the Russification and confiscation of the church, the Greek Catholic community gathered in front of the church, but were fired upon by the Russian forces, killing 13 of the protesters. The Ruthenian Catholic Church has erected a shrine to their memory there.” (Wikipedia, The Pratulin Martyrs.)

These very soldiers of Christ were recognized by Pope John Paul II and beatified on October 6, 1996.

2. Bishop Hopko

Bishop Hopko was an eparch of the Greek Catholic Church. Since Czechoslovakia was taken over by the Communists, the Greek Catholic Church was persecuted and abolished.

As a result, the Russian Orthodox Church was granted permission to remain in existence within Czechoslovakia because of its previous affiliation with the Communist state.

Bishop Hopko was arrested on 28 April 1950 and kept on starvation rations and tortured for weeks. Eventually he was tried and sentenced to 15 years for the “subversive activity” of staying loyal to Rome.

He was repeatedly transferred from prison to prison. His health, both physical and emotional later failed.

In 1964, he was transferred to an old age home. Unfortunately, he never recovered his health. Hopko died in Presov at age 72 on 23 July 1976. On 14 September 2003 Pope John Paul II beatified him at a ceremony in Bratislava, Slovakia.

3. Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky

Born in the year 1884 of Western Ukraine, Blessed Nicholas was the eldest of 9 children. Ever since he was very young, he had a desire to be ordained to the priesthood. At 18, he was sent to study by his bishop to study at the Ukrainian college of Rome. Four years after ordination, he had a desire to live as a monastic after the Latin Rite Redemptorists established a mission in Ukraine . Being attracted to the life of the Redemptorists, he entered the religious order in 1919.
In 1934 the Soviet army began to invade western Ukraine, causing the Redemptorists to flee to Lviv. In 1944, the Soviets invaded a second time. The following year all the Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops were placed under arrest as part of the Soviet plan to suppress the Church and transfer its property to the state-sanctioned Orthodox Church.
During his time in prison Bishop Mykolay endured frequent violent interrogations. He was charged with collaborating with being an agent of a foreign power i.e. the Vatican; as a result he was sentenced to hard labour.
Even though he was released in 1956, his health was very poor. The prison authorities released him in order that he die elsewhere. While he later recovered, he has entered heaven in 1959. On his pastoral visit to Ukraine, Pope John Paul II beatified him on October 27, 2001.

4. Bishop Nykyta Budka

Bishop Budka was appointed appointed bishop for Ukrainian Catholics in Canada and titular bishop of Patara on July 15, 1912 by Pope Pius XI, and was consecrated (ordained a bishop) on October 14 of that year.

Bishop Budka was the first Eastern Catholic bishop with full jurisdiction within the New World, considering that he was born in Ukraine. After returning to the now Polish controlled Galicia (which was then Soviet territory), he bravely opposed the communist government because of its requirement that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church must separate from communion with the Pope.
On April 11 1945, he was sentenced to prison with many other bishops of the Church. He was charged with teaching in an underground seminary, conducting a memorial service for the victims of the Soviet occupation of Galicia in 1939, and campaigning for the secession of Ukraine for the Soviet Union.

Sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, he was sent to Kazakhstan to serve his sentence. He died in the Gulag on September 28, 1949 form what Soviet officials said was a heart attack. martyr on June 27, 2001, in a Byzatine rite ceremony by Pope John Paul II in Lviv.

5. Eparch Theodore Romzha

Bishop Romzha was a bishop of the Ruthentian Greek Catholic Church. Because of his opposition to convert to the Orthodox Church and refuse schism with the Pope of Rome, the Soviet Red Army has martyred him after beating him, which later caused him to be hospitalized, and poisoning him after hiring a nurse to inject him with curare because of his quick recovery. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on July 27, 2001.

6. His Eminent Beatitude Josyf Slipyj

Patriarch Slipyj was the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and a cardinal. Even though he was not a martyr, he along with the UGCC rejected to loose communion with the Pope regardless of what the communist party of Ukraine insisted. As a result, he was imprisoned with hard labour for eight years. The Soviets have later taken control of the UGCC within Lviv and later revoked the union breast with Rome and was forcibly “rejoined” to the schismatic Russian Orthodox Church.

7. Leonid Feodorov

Leonid Feodorov, a Catholic convert, was a Exarch (Patriarch) of the Russian Greek Catholic Church.

Although Leonid had originally promised to adopt the Latin Rite, while studying in the Jesuit seminary at Anagni, Leonid came to believe that it was his duty to remain faithful to the liturgy and customs of the Christian East. With the full permission and encouragement of Pope St. Pius X, Leonid transferred to the Russian Catholic Church.

Because of his pious submit to the Pope, the communist government has imprisoned him. On March 7, 1935, he died due to the rigorous of his imprisonment.

8. Pavel Peter Gojdič

Blessed Gohdič was a Basilian Monk and Bishop of the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Prešov, Slovakia. Because of his rejection to submit Greek Catholics to the Russian Orthodox Church, as insisted by the Communist party, he was tortured. Later, the Communists have given him the infamous offer that if he were to leave the church, they would appoint him the patriarch of the a Orthodox Church of Slovakia.

He piously rejected to loose communion with the Pope and to convert to the schismatic church, causing him to suffer even more persecution. He died of terminal cancer in the prison hospital of Leopoldov Prison in 1960, on his 72nd birthday. He was beatified on 4 November 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

Let us close this post with a few quotes from the Popes.

“…for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it.”
-Pope Pius XI, Encyclical “Mortalium Animos”

Apologetics 1.3 : Latinization and the Eastern Catholic Churches 

What is Latinization, and why is it bad for Eastern Catholics?

Latinization is the practice of making Eastern Rite Catholic Churches more like the Roman Catholic Church by replacing Eastern Catholic customs and practices with Latin practices. A good example of this would be the replacement of Eastern Chants with Gregorian Chant, the replacement of Eastern Catholic vestments with Roman Catholic vestments, the replacement of icons with statues, the unfair banning of Eastern Catholic priests from public ministry because of their giving into marriage prior to their ordination (common in the early 1900’s within the USA), the replacement of Hyssop with the Latin Rite sprinkler for the Holy Water rites, etc.


Latinized Coptic Catholic Liturgy

While it is still very common, the abuse has died down within many Eastern Catholic Churches. The abuse of Latinization has come from Catholics ignorant of the Eastern Catholic Churches and their dignity. It was believed that they  were less Catholic because of their differences in practices from the Roman Church. This was especially present among missionaries of the Roman Church that went to evangelize North Africa, The Middle East, and East Europe.

“We gather from many other indications that Latin missionaries devote thought and care to destroying or at least weakening the Oriental rite in the course of converting Orientals from the error of schism to the unity of the Holy Catholic Religion; they induce Oriental Catholics to embrace the Latin rite…” (Pope Benedict XIV, Allatae Sunt, July 26, 1755.)

The missionaries have even come to the point where they demanded that those within the Eastern Rites must become Latin Rite in order to be completely Catholic. Therefore, Pope Leo XIII condemned this practice in his encyclical ‘Orientalium Dignitas’ by stating the following:

” Any Latin rite missionary, whether of the secular or religious clergy, who induces with his advice or assistance any Eastern rite faithful to transfer to the Latin rite, will be deposed and excluded from his benefice in addition to the ipso facto suspension a divinis and other punishments that he will incur as imposed in the aforesaid Constitution Demandatam. That this decree stand fixed and lasting We order a copy of it be posted openly in the churches of the Latin rite.”

However, the Popes have made it know that the Eastern rites aren’t less Catholic.

Pope Benedict XV asserted in the encyclical, Dei providentis, May 11, 1917: “The Church of Jesus Christ is neither Latin nor Greek nor Slav, but Catholic; accordingly she makes no difference between her children and Greeks, Latins, Slavs and members of all other nations are equal in the eyes of the Apostolic See.”

Pope Leo XIII in his Apostolic letter, Orientalium dignitas, published on November 30, 1894, declared:

“The maintenance in being of the Eastern rites is of more importance than might be imagined. The august antiquity, which lends dignity to these various rites is an adornment of the whole church and a witness to the divine unity of the Catholic faith. Perhaps nothing, in fact, better proves the note of Catholicity in the Church of God than the singular homage paid by these ceremonies which vary in form, which are celebrated in languages venerable by their antiquity, and which are still further hallowed by the use that has been made of them by the Apostles and Fathers of the Church.”

Pope Pius XII took a keen and abiding interest in the Ruthenian people. On May 21, 1939, at his direction, a solemn Triduum begun in Rome was concluded in the Vatican Basilica with services according to their own rite. This was in celebration of the 950th anniversary of the baptism of St. Vladimir, the great Ruthenian ruler.

“Each and every nation of Oriental rite must have its own rightful freedom in all that is bound up with its own history and its own genius and character, saving always the truth and integrity of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. … They will never be forced to abandon their own legitimate rites or to exchange their own venerable or traditional customs for Latin rites and customs. All these are to be held in equal esteem and honour, for they adorn the common Mother Church with a royal garment of many colors. Indeed this variety of rites and customs, preserving inviolate what is most ancient and most valuable in each, presents no obstacle to a true and genuine unity.” Orientalis ecclesiae— April 9,1944.

So what does the Church teach in regards to Latinization? Are there any consequences? Absolutely. As a matter of fact, the Church has condemned the mixing of rites as a whole.

Pope Benedict XIV: “Canon Law decrees that the Oriental and Greek rite should not be mixed with the Latin rite. See the entire Decretal of Celestine III in Gonzales, chap. Cum secundum: de temporibus Ordinationum; in the decretal of Innocent III, see chap. Quanto: de consuetudine; chap. Quoniam: de Officio Judic. Ordinar.; and the Decretal of Honorius III, chap. Literas: de celebrat. Missar.” – ALLATAE SUNT, July 26, 1755.

Therefore, regardless of what Sui Juris Church we belong to, we are all equally Catholic because of our unity of faith in Jesus Christ, His Church, and the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church.

Apologetics 1.2: ‘Vicar of Christ’ a blasphemous title? 

It has been argued by both Orthodox and Protestants that the title ‘Vicar of Christ’ for the Pope is blasphemy and heresy. Because of the ignorance of Catholic teaching, it is misunderstood that this title means to literally “replace Christ” or to literally be “Jesus on Earth.”

The Catholic Church agrees that it would be blasphemy for one to claim to be Jesus Christ on earth or claim to take His place since there is only One Lord, Jesus Christ, and not many.
However, it must be noted that the phrases such as “The bishops are in the place of God” are pastoral metaphors that simply explain the responsibility of the Bishops for God’s ministry on Earth until He comes again in Glory on the last day!
Let’s first address what ‘Vicar of Christ’ means. “… the title Vicar of Christ is more expressive of his supreme headship of the Church on earth, which he bears in virtue of commission of Christ and with vicarial power derived from Him.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vicar of Christ.)
In other words, the Pope is the Vice President of the Church; since Christ is the literal head in where all power comes from, and the Pope carries out the duties given to him by Christ because of his earthly ministry to govern the Church. Because of the fact that the title “vicar of Christ” is argued to be an ‘innovative blasphemous Latin doctrine’, as many in the schism of the Eastern churches claim, let’s examine what the Early Church fathers have to say in this regard.
St Ignatius of Antioch’s epistle to the Magnesians, 6:1 : “your bishop presides in the place of God.”
According to Sacred Tradition, Saint Ignatius of Antioch is the same little boy that Jesus called over as an example for the disciples imitate. (Matt 8:2)
As a disciple of Jesus Christ and the apostles, can we say that this doctor of the Church is openly blaspheming God by saying that a bishop is in place of God?

Absolutely not, for these are metaphors to explain their ministry. The Pope is simply the head bishop of the Church; therefore, he himself would be the Vicar of the vicars of Christ since all bishops are vicars of Christ. (CCC: 1560)

The Chotki 

 While many people are familiar with the Roman Catholic Rosary, not as many are aware of the Eastern Christian Chotki. It is a very ancient form of prayer that predates the rosary dating back to at least the 5th century. Monks of old said the prayer all day long in this manner… 

“Lord, make haste to help me. Lord make speed to save me.”

The prayer rope, (Chotki/ Komboskini), consists of 25, 33, 50, 100 or 103 beads or knots and is used to focus one’s thoughts on the “Jesus Prayer” or “Prayer of the Heart”. When not in use the chotki can be wrapped around the left wrist like a bracelet but never as a decoration, as a reminder to pray without ceasing.

In addition to private recitation, the Jesus Prayer may be said standing, with bows, or prostrations. The main focus is to pray without ceasing. When using the Chotki, it is customary to begin with making the sign of the cross.
The prayer ropes of 100 and 103 knots are carried with you. The idea of the Jesus Prayer comes from St. Paul’s admonition to … “pray always” or “pray without ceasing”. Many people who pray this prayer synchronize the phrases with their breathing and with practice; it becomes a constant prayer while awake.

The traditional prayer of the prayer beads is an adaptation of the prayer of the publican who cried out, “O God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (LK 18: 9-14) The Lord said that this man went home from the Temple justified.

Early Christians made several variations of this prayer, which became known as the Jesus Prayer. It has come down to us in three forms:
Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, by the prayers of Our Lady, have mercy on me.

The Jesus Prayer is said on each bead.

For special intentions, you substitute the name of another who is ill or in need of special prayers. 
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on … (the intention) 

It is appropriate to add a prayer to the Mother of God while praying. (i.e., Through the Prayers of the Mother of God, O Saviour, save us; Mother of God, intercede for us.)

When this prayer becomes somewhat automatic, the next step is to move the prayer from the head to the heart. One does this by trying to focus the prayer on the heart. The prayer itself is an act of humility calling out for God’s merciful help.
The tassel at the end is to dry one’s tears.


Apologetics 1.1: The Council of Chalcedon and Canon 28

It was in the year 451 A.D. that Emperor Marcian has convoked the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in order to battle against the heresy of Eutyches and the Monophysites. Contrary to Catholic doctrine and dogma, Eutyches and the monophysites have taught a disordered understanding of Christ in which professed that Jesus Christ is only one nature, that being wholly Divine, rather than both 100% God and 100% Man as the Catholic Church has always taught. With the approval of Pope Saint Leo the First, the council began on October 8, 451 A.D. and ended on November 1, 451 A.D.

While this Holy and Divinely Inspired Ecumenical Council was called to defeat heresy, “ecclesiastical discipline and jurisdiction also occupied the council’s attention.” (Catholic Encyclopedia: Council of Chalcedon, Paragraph 1.) With that in mind, the Council Fathers of Constantinople has passed a canon stating the following: “… We do also enact and decree the same things concerning the privileges of the most holy Church of Constantinople, which is New Rome. For the Fathers rightly granted privileges to the throne of the old Rome, because it was the royal city. And the one hundred fifty most religious Bishops gave equal privileges to the most holy throne of New Rome, justly judging the city is honored with Sovereignty and Senate and enjoys equal privileges with the old imperial Rome…”

Considering the fact that this canon was included within the ecumenical council, it has been argued by orthodox Christians we have encountered that this is an infallible canon in which cannot be rejected. With that in mind, it is also supposed evidence that the Catholic Church has departed from the ancient faith of the early church fathers in regards to ecclesiology because of the universal jurisdiction of the Pope. To understand the position of both the Eastern and Oriental orthodox churches, all of the Patriarchs of the church have equal authority; hence the belief in collegiality.

Even though this canon is within the Council, we must question if this has any authoritative and theological weight. The reason for this is because of the very fact that: (1) it contradicts Church teaching and is foreign to the doctrines of the early church, (2.) It was dismissed and refused to be accepted by Pope Saint Leo the Great, a recognized early church father to the schismatic East; and last but not least (3), the apology of Patriarch Anatolius of Constantinople to Pope Saint Leo the Great.

It has always been a teaching of the Church that infallible declarations from councils are meant to be accepted by all the faithful. If there were any opposition, a threat of excommunication and anathema were taken into consideration if there was any continued refusal to a dogma, which would than consequently make one a heretic. In the light of Pope Leo the First later rejecting a supposed ‘infallible canon’ the question remains: why was he not anathematized? Pope Leo the 1st refused to agree to this very canon and ordered it to be struck from the Council documents.

As a result Bishop Anatolius, pleading the mercy of the Pope, stated the following:

“As for those things which the universal Council of Chalcedon recently ordained in favor of the church of Constantinople, let Your Holiness be sure that there was no fault in me, who from my youth have always loved peace and quiet, keeping myself in humility. It was the most revered clergy of the church of Constantinople who were eager about it, and they were equally supported by the most revered priests of those parts, who agreed about it. Even so, the whole force of confirmation of the acts was reserved for the authority of Your Blessedness. Therefore let Your Holiness know for certain that I did nothing to further the matter, knowing always that I held myself bound to avoid the lusts if pride and covetousness. (Patriarch Anatolius of Constantinople to Pope Leo, Ep 132)

Some points to consider are the following:

  1. If all of the Patriarchs of the Church were equal in regards to authority, it would not be necessary for the Patriarch of Constantinople to both apologize for offending the Pope and even mention that the canon was reserved for his authority to confirm.
  2. If all of the patriarchs were equal, why would there be a necessity to be equal to Rome alone rather than Alexandria or Antioch? Is it because this is the very See in which Peter and Paul died for, with Peter being the earthly head?




Since today is the 100th anniversary of the death of His Beatitude Ortynsky, we here at Holy Synergy would like to post an article in rememberance of him. Please note that the following article is copyright and does not belong to us.

+Stefan SorokaMetropolitan/Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in U.S.A., April 12,2007

©The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia 827 North Franklin Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123-2097 


THE AUTHOR: Rev. Kaszczak is a priest of the Stamford Eparchy of The Ukrainian Catholic Church. He was educated in Philosophy at St. Basil College in Stamford, CT. He received a Master of Arts degree in Theology from Oblate College in 1985. That same year he was ordained a priest on May 4, 1985. His pastoral assignments included such cities as: Troy, NY; Spring Valley, NY; Syracuse, NY; Rochester, NY; Woonsocket, RI and Fall River, MA. He also served in Hempstead, NY until taking a sabbatical to study at La Salle University in 1996-97. It was there that he received a Master’s in Education. Following that he served for several years as Vice Rector of the Minor Seminary in Stamford, CT and as pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Syracuse, NY. He was awarded a Ph.D . in Religious
Education from Fordham University in 2005. He is the author of several books and has served as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve for over eighteen years.
                  1.  The Swan

When the tempest passes, the wicked man is no more; but the just man is established forever”
(Proverbs 10:25).

The swan is a very popular, romantic bird that has several memorable stories attached to it. The most popular story is the ballet, Swan Lake, where a prince falls in love with a princess who is under a curse that forces her to take on the shape of a swan. The most recent variations of this ballet take inspiration from the myth that, just before it dies, a swan sings sweetly. When displayed on a shield, the swan is seen “closed,” with its wings folded. In heraldry, the swan represents poetry and harmony, and was often the charge of a knight who was musical. It was featured on the Ortynsky fam- ily crest.

ORTYNSKY’S COAT OF ARMS: Bishop Ortynsky placed a prelate or priest’s hat above his shields. It is an external ecclesiastical adornment which protects and adorns the noblest part of the person – their head. If the prelate’s (Roman) hat were omitted it would be more properly oriental. It has a cord on each side, both terminating in six tassels arranged in three rows. 

Six tassels have been commonly used for bishops. It has a cross and bishop’s staff behind the shield. They are emblems of Episcopal rank. The bishop’s staff is a sign of jurisdiction and the office of Good Shepherd. The staff of a Byzantine bishop terminates in two serpents facing each other between which there is usually but not always a cross. 

The serpents are the Old Testament symbol of the cross (Numbers 21:9 and John 3:14f). The Eastern bishop’s crown in the center above the shield is a symbol of his episcopal dignity and represents a sacred rank.

 On March 24, 1916, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a relatively young man of fifty lay dying. His name was Stephen Soter Ortynsky and he was the first Greek Catholic Bishop of the United States of America.

 He was known to be a hard working and dedicated pastor who had contracted pneumonia after some particularly difficult days of labor in the vineyard of the Lord. This was to be his final day. His funeral was held on Thursday, March 30, 1916. He was buried in the Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on North Franklin Street in the city of Philadelphia. 

This young hierarch was for many a cryptic and enigmatic figure during his life. He was a Greek Catholic bishop but he was not a Greek by nationality. He preached in English, Lithuanian and Ruthenian. He was born on January 29, 1866, in the province of Galicia, Austria, but he was not Austrian. He became a citizen of these United States and never left his adopted homeland. His own Catholic brothers and sisters sometimes did not understand how this “Greek” could be connected to the “Roman” Church. In the midst of such misunderstanding he preached the Gospel fervently and ministered to all.
       2. The Beginning

In 1867, the Austro-Hungarian government passed a very liberal emigration policy into law. Their citizens were free to migrate to various parts of the globe. Many decided to seek their fortune in America. 

This was to be the first mass migration from Eastern Europe into the “new world.” Among these immigrants were approximately half a million Eastern Catholics who were labeled since 1772 as “Greek Catholics” by the Austrian government.  

3. Providence Association and the “Ruthenian Bank”

Bishop Ortynsky wished to give our immigrants financial security and stability. In 1912, he established “The Providence Association” partially based on an organization of Greek Catholic Brotherhoods. 

This organization had three main goals as is apparent from article 2 of their statutes: Moral – preach the faith, Material – help their members and National – a development of national identity for the Ruthenians.
The bishop also sought to established a Ruthenian Bank. On May 13, 1915 the charter for the Ruthenian Bank was approved by the U. S. government.

 This bank was to be in the chancery office of the eparchy; however, the untimely death of the bishop put this project on hold indefinitely. They had even installed a vault which the chancery used for many years.
In America there was much misunderstanding regarding these “new Catholics.” They did not use the Latin language in their services, their customs and liturgical rites appeared foreign and perhaps, most shocking of all, they had married men as ordained priests. Antagonism towards these ancient eastern Catholic traditions, which some western Catholics mistakenly labeled as scandalous, was a catalyst for many Greek-Catholics abandoning their church:

 “The main issue on which the American bishops [Latin rite] chose to chal- lenge the newcomers was that of clerical celibacy. They refused to allow married eastern-rite priests to exercise the ministry. 

Meeting in 1893, the archbishops resolved: that the presence of married priests of the Greek rite in our midst is a constant menace to the chastity of our unmarried clergy, a source of scandal to the laity and therefore the sooner this point of discipline is abolished before the evils obtain large proportions, the better for reli- gion….The possible loss of a few souls of the Greek rite, the archbishops thought, ‘bears no proportion to the blessings resulting from uniformity of discipline’.” (James Hennesey, S.J., American Catholics (Oxford University Press: New York, 1981), 193.)

This apparent disregard for the spiritual and ecclesial needs of Eastern Catholics was mostly born of ignorance. The Latin Catholic Church hierarchy and people had not been exposed to their Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters. 

Eastern Catholic customs and traditions were therefore rarely seen as customs and traditions of the Catholic Church. There was also the matter of episcopal jurisdiction. The Catholic Church had an ancient tradition of not placing two bishops into one city.6 The church authorities also did not differentiate between an Eastern Catholic Church and a national parish within their jurisdiction. In a pamphlet defending Bishop Ortynsky his priests write:

“The reason for a separate hierarchy for the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church in the United States is a very different one from that urged by cer- tain foreign Catholics…With the Ruthenian Greek Catholics, however, there is an absolute difference in the Rite, form of worship and usages…No ques- tion of Ruthenian racial affiliations or of nationality, whether Austrian or Hungarian, is involved, but only that of the religious Rite.”

              4. Ortynsky’s Youth


Bishop Ortynsky was born in the village of Ortynychi, Galicia, on 29 January 1866. His primary education was completed in Drohobych. At 18 he entered the Basilian Order and took the monastic name Soter. On January 1, 1889 he took his solemn vows within the Basilian Order. He was also sent for University studies to Krakow where he developed a friendship with the future Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky. 

They both received doctorates in Philosophy and Theology.
On July 18, 1891, he was ordained a priest by Metropolitan of Lviv
Sylvester Sembratovych and celebrated his first Divine Liturgy at the Monastery Church in Dobromyl. 

He was thereafter named professor of Philosophy for clerics in the Basilian monastery of Lavriw where he taught for two years. 

He was later called to the Lviv monastery. It was during this time that he, along with Frs. Sheptytsky and Platonid Filas preached missions all over Galicia. They also began to publish the religious journal “The Missionary.” This time of evangelization and oratory fervor garnered for young Fr. Stephen the title “golden-mouthed – Chrysostom.”

In 1895, he was named Ihumen (abbot) of the renewed monastery in Mykhailivka in Podillya next to the Russian border. When he arrived he found things in disarray. After nine years of dedicated service and sacrifice he was able to bring the status of the monastery to some acceptable level. He was developing his talents as both an organizer and leader.

         5. The Episcopacy – His First Pastoral Letter

In 1906, he returned to Lviv, Galicia, and prepared to be a missionary to Brazil. On March 26, 1907, he was quite surprised when Pope Pius X appointed him bishop for the Greek Catholics in America and named him titular Bishop of Daulia. He was consecrated by Metropolitan Andrew Roman Sheptytsky, Bishop Constantine Chechovych and Bishop Gregory Chomyshyn in St. George’s Cathedral (Lviv) on May 12, 1907. Before he left Europe he stopped to see the Greek Catholic bishops in Subcarpathia and Rome. He also wrote his first Episcopal letter in which he states: 

“The power of obedience held me back from the road to Brazil, where my heart desired to bring help to the poorest of our emigrants. The power of obedience placed upon me the shackles of the episcopacy, by which I was united to the fate and sufferings of our Ruthenian Church in the United States. The power of obedience told me: take up this most difficult cross and crucify upon it your “Ego”, and through the sufferings you will endure, save yourself and your people.” (Dated from Lviv, Galicia June 25, 1907 – it was received in the United States on August 7, 1907.)


Cover of program for the consecration of Bishop Ortynsky as bishop in 1907.
Courtesy of Ukrainian Museum and Research Center – Stamford, CT

He arrived in the United States on August 27, 1907, with his secretary Rev. Vladimir Petrivsky. They were met at Hoboken, NJ, by a committee headed by Revs. Cornelius Laurisin, Gabriel Chopey and Joseph Chaplynsky. 

The bishop was escorted onto Manhattan Island to St. George’s Church, then located on east 20th Street, where he held a Moleben (Prayer Service). The following day he celebrated his first Divine Liturgy at St. George’s Church.
On August 29, he went to Philadelphia and then to Washington, D.C., where he met with the Most Rev. Diomede Falconio, O.F.M., the Apostolic Delegate.

 On September 1st, Bishop Stephen Soter went to South Fork, PA, to bless St. Michael’s Greek Catholic Church. The Bishop had no residence or cathedral so he accept- ed the hospitality of the priest and stayed there until
November when he announced his transfer to a residence on North Sixty-Third Street in Philadelphia.
             6. Church Structure


The faithful and clergy of the Greek Catholic Church had been without a bishop since the beginning of the immigration in the 1880s. They had developed their own ways of governance. Rev. Nicephor Chanat (1891-1895, Administrator) and Very Rev. Andrew Hodobay (1902-1907, Apostolic Visitator) had been the initial attempts at organization. Czarist Russia through propaganda and financial manipulation wanted the loyalty of all Slavs and so took advantage of there being no bishop to attempt to make everyone Orthodox. There were Protestant sectarian influences, increased factional conflicts and prolonged misunderstandings of the Latin hierarchy. In general there was a lack of discipline and a breakdown of authority.


 The apostolic letter “Ea Semper” of June 14, 1907, which limited the position and power of the new bishop, was a surprise to Bishop Ortynsky. Although the new bishop received his jurisdiction directly from Rome, he was to exercise it as an auxiliary to every Latin ordinary. 

No married priests were to be sent to the U.S., nor were any married men to be ordained for the U.S. For many Greek Catholics, Ea Semper became a symbol of Western suppression and control over the Greek Catholic Church. For Bishop Ortynsky it was a constant source of stress and misunderstanding.

Bishop Soter called for a meeting of his clergy on October 15-16, 1907, in New York City. Seventy-six priests attended this meeting and among the many items they discussed were dividing the territory into nine Deaneries, schools for cantors, homes for orphans and widows and the erection of a seminary. A similar conference for parish delegates was held in New York in the fall of 1907. 

They voted that all Ruthenian churches (about 120 in 1907) sign over their property to Bishop Ortynsky; nevertheless, the jurisdictional problems were a source of continuing frustration.
The Bishop began to settle in at Philadelphia by becoming rector of the Holy Ghost Greek Catholic Church on 1925 West Passyunk Ave. 

Later, he celebrated at the church of St. Michael at 9th and Buttonwood Streets which was close to his residence at 1105 North 63rd Street. Late in 1908, Bishop Ortynsky purchased the former St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in the 800 block of N. Franklin Street which was eventually consecrated on October 2,
1910 as the Ruthenian Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Thus Franklin Street became a religious center for Ruthenian Greek Catholics.
                    7. Education 

On September 15, 1909, at a conference in
Philadelphia, Bishop Ortynsky established
“Prosvita” – an educational-cultural organiza-
tion for Ruthenians. The bishop also invited
the Basilian sisters from Galicia, Austria, to
help with the education of children, especially orphans. 

Three sisters and two candidates arrived in December, 1911, and three more sisters arrived in November of 1912. The first abbess, Sr. Helena Longevych, O.S.B.M., helped establish the Mother-house and Novitiate. There was also a plan to establish a hospital and Nursing Home. 

In short, the sisters became the heart and soul of much of Bishop Ortynsky’s social program.
He encouraged parishes to establish evening schools. He formed a Brotherhood of Ruthenian Greek Catholic Cantor/teachers on July 13, 1913.

He also purchased over 222 acres of land in Yorktown, VA, upon which he intended to establish a seminary, technical school, factory and nursing home.11
At this time a group of Subcarpathian Rusyn Greek Catholic priests in Harrisburg, PA, created a committee: “The Civilian Executive Church Committee” and issued a memorandum that proposed to recall Bishop Ortynsky from America because of his alleged nationalism.

                8. The Orphanage 


 The Orphans were the weakest of the immigrant
population and Ortynsky with his own funds purchased a
building on the corner of 7th and Parrish Streets for
$24,000 dollars. It provided housing for over 200
orphans. In association with the orphanage he
established a printing press, bookstore, and vestment
store and rug factory. Aside from this, in 1914, for $8,500
he purchased a 300 acre tract of land in Chesapeake City, MD, where the orphans from ages 2-6 would stay and all orphans would spend their summers. He often visited the orphans and was solicitous for them at all times. His fond affection and care for them lasted until his death.
      9. The Latin Hiearchy and         Bishop Ortynsky


The American Latin Catholic hierarchy was against the nomination of an Eastern Catholic bishop for the United States. In fact, on October 11, 1894 and again in 1896 “the American bishops again proposed that they be given the faculty of transferring all Ruthenian rite Catholics to the Latin rite in order to preserve uniformity.” 

They did not differenti- ate between national churches and Eastern Catholic parishes and it may be said that some, due to their regional interests, did not have a comprehensive vision of the Catholic Church. 

In fact, some wanted Eastern Catholics to simply become Latin Catholics: “The American bishops of the 19th century realized that national parishes were a necessity and may have conclud- ed that these Ruthenian Catholics could be absorbed into the Latin rite discipline under the same conditions provided for
national parishes of the Latin rite.” (Walter Paska. Sources of Particular Law for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States (Washington, DC, 1975), 52.)

On account of the bull “Ea Semper” Bishop Ortynsky needed to get permission from every Latin bish- op in whose territory he wished to minister. As a rule this was handled with tact and Christian diploma- cy. 

There were, however, certain demands that needed to be met depending on the will of the individ- ual bishop. Also, sometimes Latin bishops would assign Greek Catholic priests without Bishop Ortynsky’s knowledge.

The Greek Catholic priests were also forbidden to administer Chrismation. All these unjust restrictions placed upon the ritual life of this church were a boon to those who wished to foment mistrust and agi- tation among the faithful.

  10. The Subcarpathians, Galicians and others


The Greek Catholics were not Greek. They were an amalgam of various ethnic groups. Among the various names they were referred to as: Rusyns, Rusins, Russians, Galicians, Subcarpathians and Austrians. The Magyarized Subcarpathians (Transcarpathians), who were the majority, were stunned by the appointment of a Ukrainian patriot from Galicia as Bishop.

They had had two of their own priests who acted as administrators. The highly capable Archpriest Hodobay was seen by the majority of Greek Catholic Clergy as an episcopal candidate. There were also those elements within the clerical ranks that preferred anarchy and disorder to be the usual norm.

 They viewed any bishop as a restriction upon their freedom.
It is therefore no small wonder that the weakened jurisdiction and various restrictions upon Bishop Ortynsky played into the hands of those who disliked his presence. 

There were various delegations to Latin dioceses that sought to remove Bishop Ortynsky. A famous gathering of 44 parish representatives and 6 priests gathered in Johnstown, PA, on 11-12 January 1910. They did not want to be under Ortynsky but rather under the Latin bishop until they received a Subcarpathian bishop of their own.

Another meeting took place in Scranton, PA, on June 30, 1911, where 44 priests wanted to leave the Catholic Church. These priests were suspended and a group of 66 faithful priests gathered in New York City on March 12, 1912, and responded to all the allegations against Bishop Ortynsky. They stood fast with their bishop and his just quest for juridical independence.


 Among the Galicians, the immigration began to see some
new intellectuals arriving. Some, however, were socialists
in training and belief. They organized various societies
and began to edit their own papers and publications.

Often these would be in conflict with the bishop. On
account of these tendencies even the “Ruthenian
National Union” (later the U.N.A. – Ukrainian National
Assoc.) began to shy away from the bishop. Bishop
Ortynsky and Metropolitan Sheptytsky, visiting the U.S. at
the time, refused to attend the convention in Cleveland
on Sept. 20-23, 1910; nevertheless, Bishop Ortynsky was
on the statutes committee and expressed his desire to
change the name of the organization to: “The Greek
Catholic Union.”

This was eventually rejected by the
members as a clerical attempt to control the organization.
There was much ill will toward the bishop because it appeared he wanted to control the organization. He was now at odds with major portions of both the Subcarpathians and Galicians.
 11. Metropolitan Sheptytsky in Philadelphia

   Metropolitan Andrew Sheptystky of Lviv, Galicia, was a personal friend of Bishop Ortynsky and the one most responsible for his appointment as bishop. For the longest time Metropolitan Andrew had wanted to visit his flock in the United States. 

The Eucharistic Congress in Montreal, Canada, gave him the opportunity in 1910. Metropolitan Andrew arrived in New York on August 25, 1910. The Metropolitan was also a representative of the Holy See who was to investigate the conflicts swirling around Bishop Soter. He interviewed various priests and laypersons and found Bishop Ortynsky to be in the right.
On the occasion of his visit Metropolitan Andrew was deeply involved in key moments of this church’s history. In September and October Metropolitan Sheptytsky blessed the grounds in Yorktown, VA, the cathedral in Philadelphia and the cemetery in Fox Chase, PA. His presence inspired many and was a bold endorsement of Bishop Ortynsky’s pastoral role.

12. Providence Association and the “Ruthenian Bank”

Bishop Ortynsky wished to give our immigrants financial security and stability. In 1912, he established “The Providence Association” partially based on an organization of Greek Catholic Brotherhoods. 

This organization had three main goals as is apparent from article 2 of their statutes: Moral – preach the faith, Material – help their members and National – a development of national identity for the Ruthenians.
The bishop also sought to established a Ruthenian Bank. On May 13, 1915 the charter for the Ruthenian Bank was approved by the U. S. government. 

This bank was to be in the chancery office of the eparchy; however, the untimely death of the bishop put this project on hold indefinitely. They had even installed a vault which the chancery used for many years.

  13. A Greek Catholic Eparchy in the U.S.A


On May 28, 1913, the Apostolic See granted Bishop Ortynsky full ordinary jurisdiction making him independent of every Latin diocese. On August 17, 1914, the Congregation De Propaganda Fide put out a decree about the governance of the Greek Catholic Church for the next ten years called: “Cum Episcopo”. It had four main points:

1) The bishop is subject only to the apostolic see and his seat is to be New York while the vicar general and rector of seminary should be in Philadelphia.

2) That they establish a seminary.

3) That the faithful should belong to their own church.

4) Deals with mixed marriages and states that youth should be baptized in the rite of the father.

With renewed zeal Bishop Ortynsky reorganized his eparchy into deaneries and selected a priest consulters body composed of both Galicians and Subcarpathians. Fr. Alexander Dzubay, a Subcarpathian priest, was his Vicar General. He also over the past few years had developed a Brotherhood of the Holy Eucharist and the newspaper “America”, the journal “Missionary” and “Eparchial Visti (News)” while also organizing the Brotherhood of Cantor/teachers.

   14. A Trip to Rome and the Great War

On June 2, 1913 Bishop Ortynsky set off for Rome to thank Pope Pius X for the establishment of the Greek Catholic Eparchy for the United States. While in Rome, he entertained the idea of building a Greek Catholic Church in Rome based on St. Sophia in Kyiv. 

From Rome, on July 24, he went to see Metropolitan Sheptytsky in Lviv. He also visited the Subcarpathian Bishops Anthony Papp (1912-1923) of Uzhorod and Stephen Novak (1914-1919) of Presov in order to discuss the situation of the Subcarpathian Greek Catholics. He then returned to America.

In September of 1914 World War I began and Bishop Ortynsky began various efforts to aid our church and even to help Metropolitan Sheptytsky who had been imprisoned by the Russian tsar. Bishop Ortynsky was sometimes the lone voice that spoke out in defense of the Greek Catholic Church which was undergoing persecution in Galicia and Subcarpathia.

Some Greek Catholics also held a National Church Congress in Johnstown, PA, on December 12, 1913. Among the proposals of the Congress was one that provided that the bishop would ordain married men to the priesthood and defend Greek Catholic rights. Once again, Bishop Ortynsky signed the proposals of this congress and began in some way to consolidate his leadership role among Greek Catholics.


He  convened a National Convention in Philadelphia on December 8, 1914, at which he wanted to establish a “Ruthenian National Council” to help those left behind in Europe. Many, however, thought this was a clerical attempt to usurp power over the immigrant community.

15. The Death and Burial of Bishop Ortynsky

On Saturday March 11, 1916, Bishop Ortynsky gave the last sermon of a two-week long mission held at the cathedral. This sermon lasted two hours. On March 13 he went to the hospi- tal to drive the superior of the Basilians, Sr. Helen, O.S.B.M., back to the monastery. On the way he contracted pneumonia (for the fourth time in his life). When he was hospitalized he called his lawyer, Julian Chupka, and in the presence of Revs. Joseph Guryansky and Kulmatytsky, along with his brother Joseph Ortynsky, he finalized his Last Will and Testament.

  March 21 the doctors began to worry and administered morphine. When this was of no help the doctors agreed to administer a greater dosage of medication. The weakened condition of the bishop precipitat- ed his death on March 24 at 11:30 A.M.

Although there was
some talk of burying the
Bishop at the cemetery
in Fox Chase they decid-
ed to bury his body in the
cathedral. On March 26 at 10 A.M. the body of the beloved Bishop was carried to the cathedral dressed in new Episcopal vestments. On March 30, 1916, the Bishop was buried in his cathedral on Franklin Street. Many thought that Bishop Nicetas Budka, as the only remaining Greek Catholic bishop in North America, would arrive from Canada for the funeral but he was unable to make it.

 The Apostolic Delegate, Most Rev. John Bonzano, informed everyone that all ecclesiastical consulters of Bishop
Ortynsky must cease their office
and he would telephone Rome for directions regarding the administration of the eparchy.
The police and newspapers estimated that from 10-15 thousand people attended the funeral. The main celebrant for the funeral was the Vicar General of the Eparchy, Very Rev. Aleksander Dzubay. The deacons were Revs. Levytsky and Chornyak. 

There were four homilies: Fr. Joseph Chaplynsky, Fr. Gorzo, Monsignor Label (who met the Bishop in 1907 when he arrived – representative of the New York Archbishop) and Fr. Pidhorecky who delivered his sermon in English as did Msgr. Label.

The family of Bishop Ortynsky wanted to carry out his wish of shipping the body to Galicia, Austria, but the expense and complication of such an endeavor during wartime rendered it only a wish. In some small way his place was with his flock and he remained not out of compulsion but out of obedience.

    16.Concluding thoughts

The Church is always part of an historical context. Her traditions and particular customs breathe life into her primary mission of “preaching the Gospel to all nations.” Bishop Stephen Soter Ortynsky dedicated his life to preaching that Gospel and trying to save all the various ethnic groups that called his “Greek Catholic” Church their home. He saw his mission not as a narrow mission to a particular people but to everyone in
the United States. 

He was a pastor and an “episcopos-overseer.” So, while many of his fellow Catholics tried to remind him that he was the bishop for the Ruthenians, he reminded them that the Gospel command was to preach to everyone. Yes, the Gospel was preached within the historical tradi- tions of the Greek Catholic Church but its goal must never be to remain parochial but always to be universal – for all. 

Depiction of Bishop Ortynsky in stained glass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C. Ortynsky and DeSmet – has Metafile; Photographer: Geraldine M. Rohling / © Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., 2005. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The Dormition of the Holy Mother of God by Byzantine Seminary Press

On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII solemnly proclaimed the centuries-long belief that the “Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of Her earthly life, was assumed body ad soul into heavenly glory” (Apost. Const. “Munificentissimus Deus,” n. 44) This Solemn proclamation of the dogma of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven fittingly describes the crowning event in the life of the Most Holy Mother of God, whose liturgical veneration originated in the East.



The origin of the feast of the Dormition or the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is closely connected with her public veneration since the beginning of the fourth century.  It developed from early celebration of Christmas in which the “Theotokos,” the Mother of God our Savior, played an important role. The solemn proclamation of Mary as the “Theotokos” at the Council of Ephesus (431) greatly enhanced Her public veneration as the “Mother of God.” This is evidenced by the fact that few years later Her divine maternity was celebrated in Jerusalem as the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, on August 15. (cf. Armenian Lectionary, 434 A.D.)

In Egypt, the same Feast of Mary was celebrated on January 18 under the influence of St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) who presided at the Council of Ephesus. In Constantinople, the veneration of Mary’s divine motherhood was promoted by St. Anatolius (d. 458) who also composed the first liturgical hymns in honor of the Theotokos.

A the beginning of the sixth century, a magnificent basilica was erected over the tomb of Mary in Gethsemane. With this, the feast of Mary celebrated on August 15 took on a new meaning and became the solemn celebrated of Mary’s death and assumption into heaven under the name of the Feast of the Dormition. In some liturgical calendars of the East, the feast was referred to as the Journey of the Theotokos into Heaven, or the Deposition of Mary, i.e. the interment of Mary into Her grave.


In Constantinople, the Empress St. Pulcheria (d. 433) promoted devotion to the Blessed Mother and built three churches in Her honor. Being present at the sixth session of the Council of Chalcedon (451), she asked St. Juvenal of Jerusalem (d. 458) for some relics of the Blessed Mother to be enshrined in St. Mary’s Church at Blachernae, near Constantinople. The saintly Bishop replied:

“We have received the ancient and the most reliable tradition that at the time of the glorious dormition (falling asleep) of the Mother of God, the whole company of the Apostles were brought together in Jerusalem. So, amid divine and heavenly praises, they commend Her holy soul to the hands of God and, taking Her God- conceiving body, they carried it in procession to Gethsemani and there placed it in a little tomb.

For three days a choir of Angels continued to sing above Her tomb. After the third day, when finally St. Thomas arrived, (he had been absent and desired to venerate the body that had borne Christ God), they (the Apostles) opened the tomb and found no trace of Her blessed body. Thus, taking the winding sheets, which were filled with fragrance, the Apostles closed the tomb.

Wondering at this mystery they could only think that He, Whom it had pleased to be born of Her in the flesh, the Lord of Glory, desired that after Her departure from this life, Her immaculate and all-pure body would be honored by incorruptibility, being translated (to heaven) before the universal resurrection of the dead.” (Cyril of Scythopolis, The History of St. Euthymius III, 40, written about 515)

Only July 2, the Byzantine Church commemorates the Deposition of the Venerable Mantle of Our Lady, the Mother of God at Blachernae. It seems that, instead of the holy relics requested, the imperial city had received Mary’s vestments which were found in Nazareth and brought to Constantinople in 474,i. e. after the death of Juvenal and Pulcheria.


The solemn celebration of the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God was extended to the entire East during the sixth century. Since the feast was celebrated on different days, it was decreed by Emperor Maurice (582-602) that, in the entire Byzantine Empire, the feast will be celebrated on August 15 under the name of Dormition (Old. Slav. “Uspenije”) which, literally translated, means the falling asleep. (1 Thess 4:14) St. Modestus of Jerusalem  tradition concerning Mary’s wondrous departure and the assumption of Her purest body to heaven. (cf. Migne, P.G. 86, 3277 ff.)

In the middle of the seventh century, the Feast of Dormition was introduced in Rome from where it gradually spread to the entire West. However, at the end of the eighth century, the Western Church changed the name of the Feast to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.

In the East, the celebration of the feast was enhanced by the famous homilies of St. Andrew of Crete (d. about 720), St. Germanus of Constantinople (d. 733), and especially St. John Damascene (d. 749) who became the main champion of the traditional belief in the bodily assumption of Mary. According to his testimony, the tomb, which harbored the purest body of the Mother of God for only a short time, became an object of the public veneration and the source of numerous miracles and special graces. (cf. Homily on Dormition 1,13) St. John Damascene, in the homily he delivered at the Basilica of the Dormition in Jerusalem, pointed to Mary’s tomb and said: “Her immaculate body was placed here, in this renowned and all-glorious tomb, from whence after three days it was taken up to the heavenly mansion.” (Homily on Dormition, 2:14)


The liturgical hymns extolling the wondrous dormition of the Blessed Mother, most part, were composed during the eight and ninth centuries by such renowned hymnographers as St. Germanus of Constantinople (d. 733), St. John Damascene (d. 749), St. Cosmos of Maiuma (d. 760), St. Theophanes Graptos (d. 845) and others. In their hymns, these inspired writers clearly revealed the traditional belief in Mary’s “translation from earth to heaven.” (cf. 2nd Stichera of Vespers)

imgThrough these liturgical compositions, the general belief in the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven remained well preserved and provided sufficient historical evidence for the proclamation of the dogma in 1950. The principal arguments from Byzantine tradition and liturgy in support of the dogma were collected by our Ruthenian theologian, Msgr, Nicholas Russnak, S.T.D. (1872 – 1952) and were submitted to the Holy See by Bishop Paul P. Goldich OSBM of Prjashev (1927-1960) on January 25, 1932. (cf. G. Hentrich-R. De Moos, Petitiones de Assumption Corporea B.V.M., Vatican 1942, vol 1, p.770-779)

Concerning the petition of Bishop Gojdich, the authors write: “The Importance of this petition is obvious since it comes from the Ruthenian Hierarch, well versed in the Greek and Old Slavonic liturgical texts, starting with the ninth century, are in constant use by both Catholic and Orthodox. And these texts ‘clearly and absolutely’ contain the doctrine of the bodily assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Thus, we can conclude that the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, based on the deduction from Holy Scriptures, is a logical development of the centuries-long tradition deeply rooted in the liturgical prayers and minds of the people.



The Feast of the Dormition is one of the twelve Major Feasts of the Byzantine Rite and is celebrated with uncommon solemnity. In preparation for the feast, a two weeks period of fasting is prescribed for the faithful, called the Fast of Dormition. (“Uspenskij Post”), which begins on the first day of August. Since the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, popularly known as “Spasa,” fell within this time, the people in the Old Country referred to this fast as the “Spasovaka,” meaning the Savior’s Fast. Historically, the Fast of the Dormition can be traced to the ninth century but it was officially introduced into the Byzantine discipline by the Synod of Constantinople in 1166.

Liturgically speaking, the Feast has one day of pre-festivity and eight days of post-festivity during which time the mysteries of Mary’s wondrous death and Her Glorious assumption to heaven are celebrated. The Vespers of the Feast, celebrated with Litija, repeatedly implore the intercession of the Mother of God: “O Lady, do not forget the kinship with those who commemorate your all-holy Dormition with faith.” (Stichera of Litija)

Accord to an old custom, flowers and medicinal herbs are blessed after the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Dormition. This custom most probably originated from the traditional belief that after Mary’s glorious assumption into heaven, Her holy tomb was filled with a “heavenly fragrance” and flowers. (St Germanus, 1 Hom on Dormition.) The herbs, used by our people as natural medicine, are blessed in commemoration of the numerous healings and extraordinary graces bestowed on the pilgrims at Mary’s tomb. (St John Damascene, Hom. on Dor 1,13)

(Tomb of the Virgin Mary at Gethsemane)

The blessing of herbs on the Feast of Dormition was introduced by the Fathers to combat he superstitious incantations and charlatanism among our people. Preaching at the tomb of Mary, St. John Damascene reminded the people that: “Divine power is not circumscribed by any place and neither is the inexhaustible goodness of the Mother of God. For if the graces were restricted only to Her tomb, only a few people would gain them. Now Her graces are poured out in every place throughout the world.” (Hom. on Dom 2,19)

In his Homily on the Dormition, St. John Damascene makes the Tomb of Mary talk:

“Why do you seek in the tomb what has been assumed into heaven? Why do you exact from me an account of Her dissolution? I had no power to go against the divine command. Leaving the winding sheet, that holy and sacred body, which filled me with myrrh, sweet fragrance and holiness, has been caught up and has departed with all the power of heaven accompanying it. Now the angels keep watch over me. Now the divine grace dwells in me. I have become a well of healing for the sick,  defense against demons, a refuge to those who fly to me. Draw near in faith, you people, and you will receive grace in streams.” (Hom. on Dormition 11,17)

(Byzantine Leaflet Series No.11, August 1979, Byzantine Seminary Press)