Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia delivered the homily at the annual Chrism Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral April 12. The story by reporter Dan Pietrafesa about that Mass, which traditionally brings together many bishops and priests of the archdiocese during Holy Week, is on Page 4.
Cardinal Dolan, the principal celebrant, would also normally preach at the Mass, where he blessed sacramental oils used in parishes throughout the archdiocese during the coming year. This year, the cardinal generously ceded responsibility for the homily to Archbishop Gudziak, who has become a familiar face in the archdiocese and at the cathedral, especially in the last couple of months.
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine Feb. 24, Archbishop Gudziak has been in the cathedral for a press briefing where he called the war “a transformational moment for the world.” He also was at the altar for a Mass supporting persecuted Christians around the world and citing the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need for their comprehensive efforts to assist them.
He attended the March 1 ordination of the Archdiocese of New York’s newest auxiliary bishops, Bishop John Bonnici and Bishop Joseph Espaillat, and shared a poignant exchange with Cardinal Dolan in the sanctuary.
You likely remember the archbishop from the cover image of our last issue when he kneeled down in his red liturgical vestments to gaze into the eyes of two young Ukrainian children from the Rodomon family, who with their mother escaped the war in Ukraine last month and are now being assisted by a parish in Queens, where they have family.
Hearing he would be preaching at the Chrism Mass made me eager to listen to his words and to join CNY colleagues in supporting the priests of our archdiocese. It was great to see so many young people from diverse backgrounds in the cathedral, including a group standing near us to photograph the celebration with their phones.
Archbishop Gudziak’s stirring words won’t be forgotten by anyone who heard them. I strongly encourage you to view the livestream on the cathedral’s website, saintpatrickscathedral.org.
The archbishop began by offering encouragement to the bishops, priests and deacons assembled before him “in this Eucharistic, sacramental fellowship.” And encouragement is necessary because of all the discouraging circumstances we face, including that day’s subway shooting in Brooklyn, which roiled New York City.
He culminated the litany by speaking about “the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and massacre of simple citizens.”
Holy Week itself features examples of “the best and the worst, the highest and the lowest, intimate friendship and betrayal,” Archbishop Gudziak said.
“We have the episodes that lead to the brutal killing of the innocent Lamb, the suffering Servant,” the archbishop said. “Exactly there, in that killing, God transforms it to an act of love—into our liberation.”
“How good it is to know the words of the Scripture are happening here and now,” he said. “Because Christ is here with us yesterday, now and forever.”
Speaking with conviction, he encouraged his fellow clergy members to count their blessings despite the numerous challenges they face.
“Thank you, Lord, for this vocation,” he prayed. “Thank you for these gifts…for the trust that people place in us.
“Thank you for showing us how, for being with us everywhere we are, even in our suffering.”
He also thanked Cardinal Dolan and the clergy and people of the archdiocese “for your incredible singular solidarity with the Church and people of Ukraine in its passion and in its crucifixion. You have offered comfort to those who are captive.”
Hope lives, even in Ukraine’s suffering and agony, said Archbishop Gudziak as he closed his homily.
“It is Paschal truth bringing us together—imitation of Christ who gives His life for us that rivets the eyes of the world to what is happening,” he said. “They feel it in their hearts. People are walking the path of Jesus.”
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