BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR EPARCHY
Although the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Great Britain (UCC-GB) was not formally established as a separate ecclesiastical entity until 1957, its origins can be traced back to the end of the nineteenth century. The earliest significant group of Ukrainian immigrants in Great Britain, who settled in Manchester between the 1890s and the outbreak of the First World War, were mostly Catholics of the Byzantine rite. They initially attended services at the Roman Catholic church of St Chad, and later joined the parish of St Casimir, which was established in 1904 to serve, primarily, Manchester’s Polish and Lithuanian immigrants. After the closure of this parish in 1931, St Chad’s once again became the main place of worship for the Manchester Ukrainians. From 1932 the Rev. Louis van den Bossche, a Byzantine-rite Catholic priest from Belgium, visited St Chad’s several times a year to celebrate mass for the Ukrainian congregation. After his death these visits were continued by the Rev. Jacques Perridon from France (1938-39 and 1944-47).
Between the First and Second World Wars a number of high-ranking figures in the UCC made visits to Great Britain: the Metropolitan of Galicia, Andrei Sheptytskyj (1921), Bishop Mykola Charnetskyj, the apostolic visitor for Ukrainian Catholics in Poland outside the boundaries of Galicia, (1932 and 1937), and the Rev. Josyf Slipyj, rector of the Graeco-Catholic Theological Academy in Lviv and future head of the UCC (1935).
During and immediately after the Second World War a number of Ukrainian priests served in Britain as military chaplains for Ukrainian Catholics in the Canadian armed forces based in the country, and in the Polish Armed Forces under British command. The process of organising the UCC-GB began during the large-scale influx of Ukrainians into the country in the immediate post-war years. In November 1946 the Rome-based Bishop Ivan Buchko was appointed Apostolic Visitor with personal jurisdiction over Ukrainian Catholics throughout Western Europe.
The Сhurch in Great Britain was initially assigned to the jurisdiction of his Vicar General (Syncellus) for France, the Rev. Perridon. In February 1947 the Rev. Josaphat Jean, a French-Canadian priest of the UCC, was appointed parish priest for London, and subsequently he became dean of the Ukrainian Catholic Mission in Great Britain. In March 1949 Bishop Buchko established a separate Vicariate General for England and Scotland and appointed the Rev. (later Bishop) Volodymyr Malanczuk as the first Vicar General of the UCC-GB. In January 1951 the latter was succeeded by the Rev. Alexander Malynowskyj. In December 1947 the Roman Catholic hierarchy of England and Wales established a committee for the welfare of Catholic European Voluntary Workers of various nationalities who were arriving in Britain. This committee provided assistance to the UCC-GB in such matters as the admittance of Ukrainian priests to the country, arrangements for visits by priests to camps and hostels in which Ukrainians were living, and the use of Roman Catholic churches for Ukrainian services.
On 10 June 1957 the Holy See issued a Papal decree on the establishment of the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian Catholics in England and Wales. William Godfrey, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster (and Сardinal from 1958), was appointed as the first Exarch, while the day-to-day administration of the Exarchate rested with his Vicar General: initially the Rev. Malynowskyj, then, after his death in November 1957, the Rev. Paul Maluga from Canada. In August 1961 the first Ukrainian Catholic bishop in Great Britain, Augustine Horniak, was appointed Auxiliary Bishop to the Exarch, and in April 1963, after the death of Cardinal Godfrey, Bishop Horniak was appointed Exarch.
By a decree of March 1967 the jurisdiction of the Exarchate was extended to include Scotland (with effect from May 1968), and it was renamed the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain. In September 1987 Bishop Horniak resigned, and Bishop Michael Hrynchyshyn, the Apostolic Exarch of France, was appointed Administrator of the Exarchate in Great Britain. A new Exarch for Great Britain, Bishop Michael Kuchmiak, was appointed in June 1989. He remained in this position until his retirement in April 2002 and was succeeded by Bishop Paul Chomnycky. In January 2006 Bishop Chomnycky became Bishop of the UCC Eparchy of Stamford, USA. As a result, the position of Exarch for Great Britain became vacant and the Rev. Benjamin Lysykanych became Administrator of the Exarchate. In June 2009 Bishop Hlib Lonchyna became Administrator of the Exarchate, before being appointed Exarch in June 2011. In January 2013 the Exarchate was elevated to the rank of an Eparchy (equivalent to a diocese in the Western Church) with the title of Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, and Bishop Lonchyna was appointed as the first Eparch. In December 2014, after the death of the Apostolic Visitor for Belarusian Catholics of the Byzantine rite outside Belarus, the Belarusian Catholic Mission in Great Britain was attached to the UCC Eparchy of London. Furthermore, in 2017, the Slovakian and Hungarian Missions were placed under the omophor of Bishop Hlib.
On 1st September 2019, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, accepted the resignation of Bishop Hlib from pastoral governance of the London Eparchy. At the same time, His Holiness appointed the Very Reverend Father Mykola Matwijiwskyj as Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy - sede vancante.
(Abridged from: “Ukrainian Catholic Church in Great Britain”, Ukrainians in the United Kingdom: Online Encyclopaedia)