10-11-2017

Pope remembers Ukrainian priest who mentored him

Pope Francis on Thursday spoke about Bishop Stepan Chmil, a Ukrainian bishop who served in Argentina when the pope was a boy. Assisting Chmil twice a week, he said, "taught me to be open to a different liturgy, which has always remained in my heart as something beautiful." Francis also said he gave testimony for the Ukrainian bishop's canonization cause, Crux informs.

Meeting a group of Ukrainian Catholics, Pope Francis said that long ago in Argentina, he had learned about the suffering of Christians in their homeland and about the beauty of their liturgy.

Speaking to a group of professors, students and alumni from the Pontifical Ukrainian College of St. Josephat, a seminary in Rome, the pope said he valued the lessons he learned as a boy from Bishop Stepan Chmil.

“It did me so much good because he spoke to me about the persecution, sufferings, the ideologies that persecuted the Christians” in Ukraine under communism, the pope said Nov. 9.

"And I would not end without recalling a person who was good to me when I was in the last elementary grade, in 1949. Most of you were not born! Father Stefan Chmil, later secretly consecrated bishop here in Rome by the then Archbishop-Major. He celebrated Liturgy there [at the school], since there was no Ukrainian community nearby, and needed some who assist him. Through him, I learned to serve the Mass in the Ukrainian Rite. He taught me everything. Twice a it was my turn to serve. This did me good because that man spoke about persecutions, suffering, and ideologies which persecuted Christians. He also taught me to be open to a different liturgy, which I always cherish beautifully in my heart. When I was in Buenos Aires, [then Bishop] Shevchuk had asked for my testimony to begin the process of beatification of this bishop, ordained in secret. I wanted to remember him today because it only just, being here before you, to thank him for the good that he did for me."

Then-Father Chmil was among the first Eastern-rite Catholics allowed to enter the Salesian order while retaining their liturgical rites and traditions.

After completing his studies in Turin, Italy, Chmil ministered to countless Ukrainian refugees who arrived in Western Europe during World War II.

In 1948, he was sent to Argentina to minister to Ukrainian refugees there and met a young Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was in his last year of grade school.

“I learned how to assist at Mass in the Ukrainian rite from him; he taught me everything,” the pope said.

Assisting Chmil twice a week, he said, “taught me to be open to a different liturgy, which has always remained in my heart as something beautiful.”

After Chmil’s death in 1978, the pope said, it was revealed that he had been “consecrated a bishop in secret in Rome” by Cardinal Josyf Slipyj, then-major archbishop.

Francis also said he gave testimony for the Ukrainian bishop’s canonization cause to the current head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych.

“I wanted to remember him today,” he said, “because it is right to give thanks to him for the good that he has done for me.”

 

www.risu.org.ua

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