Last underground bishop mourned in Ukraine

March 18, 2013

Bishop Julian Voronovsky, the last Ukrainian Catholic bishop to be secretly consecrated during the Church’s Soviet-era persecution, died Feb. 28. He was 76.

During a March 4 memorial service, clergy extolled Voronovsky’s leadership as head of the Sambir-Drohobych Eparchy as well as his efforts to improve relations with Orthodox Church leaders and government officials.

“His greatness wasn’t that of earthly glory, estates, awards and honours, since he lived humbly among the poor of Christ, with nowhere to lay his head. His greatness was that of God’s love,” Auxiliary Bishop Bohdan Dziurakh of Kiev said during the service in Transfiguration Church in Drohobych.

Dziurakh told the 300 clergy and hundreds of worshippers who packed the cathedral that Voronovsky served the Church when it was “humiliated, shattered and driven to Golgotha,” and in doing so had earned the title “confessor of the faith” by ministering “in the catacombs.”

In leading the Sambir-Drohobych Eparchy from 1994 to 2011, Voronovsky restored parishes, founded monasteries and schools and dedicated a seminary and catechetical centre in an effort to rebuild the Ukrainian Catholic Church after it had been outlawed and forced to merge in 1946 with the Russian Orthodox Church under Soviet rule.