Bishop Benedict (Aleksiychuk) Enthroned as Fifth Eparch of St Nicholas, Chicago

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Woven into the liturgical fullness of the Feast of the Prime Apostles Ss Peter and Paul, His Grace Benedict (Aleksiychuk) became the fifth eparch of St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy in Chicago, June 29, 2017.

Vespers on the eve of the feast were celebrated by hierarchs, priests, deacons and monastics gathered from North America and Europe joined by throngs of faithful from near and far to fill the massive cathedral to near-capacity.

The morning of the feast itself was met with the prayer of the Church—matins. The services combined to focus attention on the work of the Church through the lens of the teachings and witness of these two pillars of our apostolic faith.

Long-standing tradition prescribes such events occur on a feast day of an apostle, or on a Sunday. As well, among the congregation now overflowing the cathedral, were hierarchs of other churches sui iuris of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, East and West.

Clergy and laity alike were able to participate together with the complete text of the services provided in bi-lingual booklets available to facilitate the flow and cadence, whether singing in English or Ukrainian—along with a smattering of Greek to reflect the ancient origins of the Byzantine liturgical family to which the Ukrainian Church belongs.

Just before noon, a procession of the ranks of clergy was joined by altar servers and representatives of parishes and societies down Rice Street in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village to the Bishop’s Chancery where His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) and His Excellency Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, were waiting to escort Bishop Benedict across the street to his cathedral.

With the pealing of bells the entourage ascended the steps to the cathedral church. The Divine Liturgy began, and as the Small Entrance concluded, a slight departure from the service began.

Archbishop Pierre addressed Bishop Benedict and the assembled congregation to announce to one and all the news they came to hear.

In an English-language translation of the Latin document sent from Pope Francis, dated April 20, 2017, all were informed of the appointment of Bishop Benedict to the see of Chicago, in accord with the selection made by the Permanent Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in September, 2016 and forwarded to His Holiness for acceptance and promulgation.

A Decree was also read by Very Rev Richard Janowicz, who had been the administrator of St Nicholas Eparchy since the death of Bishop Richard (Seminack) last August until now. A Ukrainian translation was read by Very Reverend Mykhailo Kuzma.

His Eminence Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan (Soroka) of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparcy of Philadelphia began the ceremony of enthronement, calling forth His Beatitude Sviatoslav to impart the insignia of the episcopal office, and escort Bishop Benedict to the cathedra (chair) in place in the main church of the eparchy and declare him worthy of his new office, proclaiming Axios!(Axios). After a resounding affirmation by the clergy and congregation,  Bishop Benedict sat in his chair to receive the clergy of the eparchy over which he is the overseer.

Led into the Holy Place, Bishop Benedict joined the concelebrating hierarchs to continue the Divine Liturgy, the conclusion of which was accompanied by the prayerful petition that God grant His servant, Bishop Benedict “many years!”

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