Rome – November 1973
Two commemorative celebrations were scheduled for the week of November 16-24 in Rome. The first concerned the transfer of remains of Metropolitan Josyf Sembratowych from an Italian cemetary to a crypt within the walls of St. Sofia; the other was the commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Josafat Kuncevych, Hundreds of faithful undertook a pilgrimage to Home to participate in these events.
The pilgrims gathered in Rome also hoped for further important development that would advance the cause of self-government for our Church. Their spirits were noticeable dampened however, when it was discovered that a letter from the Holy Father, written in commemoration of the death of St. Josafat was addressed directly to the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and its content made no reference to the fact that st. Josafat was a Ukrainian saint, or that he served the Ukrainian Church and died for her wellbeing. These glaring omissions of most pertinent facts were immediately rectified. The press was informed of the true state of facts by way of a special press release prepared by the Committee for Public Relations of the Society for Patriarchate headed by Miss Eva Piddubcheshen.
The religious ceremonies were complemented by other important events during the week. The complete daily chronicle of events for the long week long observances in Rome is as follows:
On Saturday, November 17, the remains of Metropolitan Sembratowych were transferred to the Church of St. Sofia. Solemn services were held commemorating this occasion.
On Sunday, November 18, an Archiepiscopal Mass was celebrated in the Basilica of St. Peter at the altar where the relics of St. Josafat are entombed. Subsequently, bishops, priests, and representatives of the laity attended a dinner thus concluding the official part of these celebrations. Later that day, the assembly of the Sixth Synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Church held a preliminary session. The Synod continued throughout the week until the following Saturday. As has already been reported, the first of deliberations was the ratification of the constitution of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, November 20, the Utrecht Byzantine Choir, under the direction of dr. M. Antonowych performed at a concert dedicated to the memory of the martyrdom of St. Josafat. Afterwards, the people in attendance met with the members of the choir.
On Wednesday, November 21, the faithful gathered for an audience with the Holy Father. That same day representatives of various lay organizations, who had initiated the disenfi ions in Toronto on November 1-3. continued in Rome their inquiries into the possible formation of a world-wide coordinated movement of lay organizations. Father Alexis Floridi an Italian Jesuit and a friend of the Ukrainian cause, presented a paper to both the Ukrainian pilgrims and the Italians interested in the plight of Ukrainian Catholic Church.
On Thursday, November 22, the Committee for Public Relations organized a press conference which was attended, by 45 correspondents of the world press. In addition to the members of our society, those most responsible for the success of this press conference are Prof. Thomas E. Bird, father Alexis Floridi, Miss Lydia Savoyko and Miss Vira Savoyko. These people deserve the gratitude of all the faithful who are concerned with the well-being of their Church. Because of this news conference, the world press reported extensively on the Ukrainian Catholic Church and Sixth Archiepiscopal Synod.
At II A.M. on Saturday, November 24, Patriarch Josyf I headed a delegation of our bishops in audience with the Holy Father. The Ukrainian hierarchy collectively presented to the Pope the ratified constitution of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. That afternoon representatives of the faithful met with Patriarch Josyf I.
The final day of events ,Sunday, November 25. was marked by a banquet given by His Beatitude for II Cardinals and Ambassadors as well as other accredited representatives to the Vatican. Dr. M. Nawrockyj. President of the Society for the Patriarchate in the Ukrainian Church in U.S.A. represented the Ukrainian faithful at this banquet.
On Monday, November 26, all the faithful departed for their homes, carrying with them the sacred obligation to continue the work initiated by their Patriarch.