New bishop for Ukrainian Catholics in UK

 Pope John Paul II has appointed Fr Paul Chomnycky, 47, superior of St Basil's Monastery in Edmonton, Canada, as the new Apostolic Exarch for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain. Fr Chomnycky will be ordained in Canada on 11 June and installed on 16 June in London at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile. Fr Chomnycky said: "I am certainly surprised, humbled, and more than a little apprehensive to find myself appointed as the new Exarch for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain. I am surprised because I truly did not expect such an honour and responsibility to be placed upon my shoulders, especially at such a relatively young age; humbled because I, more than anyone, recognise my own weaknesses and limitations; and apprehensive because I suddenly find myself the spiritual father of a flock I have never laid eyes upon, in a land where my foot has never stepped. "However, I know that the good Lord will not be sparing in his graces in helping me in my new mission, and that the Holy Spirit will complete that which is lacking in me. I know also that I can count upon the prayers, cooperation, guidance and friendship of the clergy, faithful, and my brothers in the episcopate. I look forward to being with you soon in your beautiful and ancient island." Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said: "It was with great regret that, at our meeting last week, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales bid farewell to the Apostolic Exarch Bishop Michael Kuchmiak. We are delighted to welcome Fr Paul Chomnycky in his place and very much look forward to his installation in June. The Exarch brings to our Conference some of the richness of the Eastern Catholic tradition and is a real sign of the true universality of the Catholic Church. Having said our goodbyes to Bishop Michael it is with great joy that we welcome Fr Paul." At the same time, the Pope accepted the retirement of Bishop Michael Kuchmiak, 79, who has been Exarch since 1989. Biographies of Fr Chomnycky and Bishop Kuchmiak follow. Fr Paul Patrick Chomnycky OSBM was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, on 19 May 1954. His father, Stephan, migrated to Canada from Ukraine (Vilkhiwchk village, Husiatyn, Ternopilska Oblast) in 1948, and his mother, Jessie was born in Musidara, Alberta. After graduating from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in 1980, Paul Chomnycky worked as an accountant. On 13 November 1982, he entered the novitiate of the Order of St Basil the Great (OSBM - the Basilian Fathers) in Glen Cove, New York, and professed perpetual vows on 1 January 1988 in Rome. He was ordained on 1 October that year by the late Bishop Jerome Chimy OSBM at the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Vancouver. He then completed studies in philosophy at the University of St Anselm in Rome and theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, gaining a Bachelor of Theology Degree in 1990. In 1990, Fr Chomnycky was appointed assistant pastor at SS Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Mudare, Alberta, and the following year became pastor of the Lamont/Star-Peno/Skaro area Ukrainian churches. In 1992 he was appointed assistant pastor of St Basil's Church, Edmonton, Alberta, and in 1994 he moved to Vancouver to become pastor of St Mary's parish. In 1997 he returned to Mundare as superior of Sts Peter and Paul Monastery and pastor of the parish. From 2000 he was been superior of St Basil's Monastery in Edmonton, and pastor of St Basil's Church, Edmonton, since 2001. He was appointed Exarch for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain on 5 April 2002. Fr Chomnycky has been director of the Basilian Fathers museum in Mundare, member of the provincial council of the Basilian Fathers in Canada, and member of the college of consultors of the Edmonton Eparchy - all since 1997. He has preached numerous missions and retreats throughout Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. There are around 15,000 Ukrainian Catholics in Britain, who worship in ten churches according to the Byzantine Rite and in the Ukrainian language. They are served by 18 priests.

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