Ukrainian Bishop, American Church

Constantine Bohachevsky and the Ukrainian Catholic Church

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Mathra Bohachevsky-Chomiak
  • Washington, DC: 
    Catholic University of America Press
    , October
     2018.
     544 pages.
     $75.00.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780813231594.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Description

Constantine Bohachevsky was not a typical bishop. On the eve of his unexpected nomination as bishop to the Ukrainian Catholics in America, in March 1924, the Vatican secretly whisked him from Warsaw to Rome to be ordained. He arrived in America that August to a bankrupt church and a hostile clergy. He stood his ground, and chose to live simple missionary life. He eschewed public pomp, as did his immigrant congregations. He regularly visited his scattered churches. He fought a bitter fight for the independence of the church from outside interference – a kind of struggle between the Church and the state, absent both. He refashioned a failing immigrant church in America into a self-sustaining institution that half a century after his death could help resurrect the underground Catholic Church in Ukraine, which became the largest Eastern Catholic church today.

This trailblazing biography, based on recently opened sources from the Vatican, Ukraine and the United States, brings the reader from the placid life of the married Catholic Ukrainian clergy in the Habsburg Empire to industrial America. 

The Ukrainian Catholic Church, formalized in 1595, melds Eastern religious practices with Western hierarchic structure, thus healing the 1054 Christian divide. While there is doctrinal unity, Eastern Catholic practice differs so markedly from that of the Latin Rite that Ukrainian immigrants in the US created their own churches. The death of the first bishop in 1916 and the long hiatus in naming a replacement led to widespread unrest. Yet, under Bohachevsky's forceful leadership, within a decade, the church developed a network of parishes, schools, colleges, and eventually a seminary, cultivating its clergy and its understanding of Eastern Catholicism. In 1958, the Pope erected the Ukrainian Catholic Archbishopric of Philadelphia and appointed Bohachevsky its Metropolitan/Archbishop.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Martha Bochachevsky-Chomiak is Emeritus Professor of History at Manhattanville College, has taught at the Johns Hopkins University, Seton Hall University, and Harvard University, and was the head of the Fulbright program for Ukraine.

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