2010-12-30 • HISTORY
History and the present state of the Greek Catholik Eparchy of Mukachevo
The Greek-catholic Eparchy of Mukacevo has its roots in the Union of Uzhgorod, which took place on 24 April 1646.
In the north-east part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire the Catholics were called ruthenians or the Ruthenian church. In 1771 during the rule of Maria Theresia the Eparchy of Mukachevo was officially recognized and was introduced to call the faithful as the Greek-Catholics and the church as Greek-catholic. Until the beginning of 20th century on the territory of the nowadays Transcarpathia there were no Orthodox parishes.
Eparchy is located in the region of Transcarpathia, Ukraine. There are 1.248.000 inhabitants, and 320.000 of them are Greek-Catholics. It means that we are 25% of the region population. Besides that, in our Region live 60.000 Roman-Catholics.
Our Church was strongly persecuted after the Second World War. On the night of 31st October/1st November 1947 was assassinated our bishop Theodor Romza, now already beatificated. At the beginning of the 1949 started persecution against the Greek-catholic Church, and thus our Church was underground for 41 year. The Church hierarchs were annihilated, 128 representatives of clergy (bishops, priests, monks and nuns) were put in the prisons or sent to exile to Siberia for many years, and 20 of them never returned back. Some of them were assassinated there. Altogether we have 36 priests-martyrs. Great number of church people also suffered much for remaining faithful to Catholic Church. In April 1989 there started to celebrate first public Holy Liturgies under the open sky at the cemetery “Calvary,” Uzhgorod. In December 1989 our Church officially revived from underground and since then we can freely confess and practice our Faith, tradition and rite. Although Ukrainian government rehabilitated our priests, still there is no law about the restitution of our Church’s immovable estate.
For now we have 415 communities officially registered by the government. From the 440 churches, 5 monasteries and 3 Convent registered by 1949 we received back only 127 churches, 3 monasteries and 1 convent (40 churches were destroyed by communists). In some villages both Orthodox and Greek Catholics use the same church according to the fixed schedule. There are 14 villages in which the church buildings are used in turns.
In 1991 the government assigned for the property of the Orthodox Church 260 of our old churches, which were ours till 1949.
In 17 cases we pray in common churches with the Roman-Catholics. 19 communities celebrate in some buildings.
Since 1989 there have been built in Mukachevo Eparchy 150 churches and chapels. Another 60 churches are in the process of construction. Besides that we need to built yet 30 more new churches and chapels. At present there are two Greek Catholic parish communities that still celebrate Holy Liturgies under the open sky regardless of the court desision for the Orthodoxies to return our church buildings.
At present we have ready 63 rectories (parish houses). 22 rectories are in the process of construction and another 20 – in the process of reconstruction (altogether 105 rectories). We have to build yet 80 rectories in order to ensure a full value pastoral care in all the parishes, and to ensure that Mukachevo Eparchy needs 190 rectories.
Before 1949 our church counted more than 500 property of real estate (rectories, schools, educative houses...). Since legalization in 1989 we have received back only 60 buildings in which for the moment we celebrate the Liturgies, because in such village the church is left to the Orthodox communities. Some of our old property was given for the property of different institutions, and that will never be returned.
For the moment we have 222 eparchial priests, 25 religious, and 9 emeritus. We need to build the rectories, because the majority of our priests live in private apartments far from their communities. We search for the resources to keep our 106 seminarians plus 20 seminarians that study abroad; we look also for the new churches, rectories, pastoral centers to can have contacts with the people, for the charity centers.
We still do not have the Epaiscopal Residence where till today is the Library of the Uzhgorod State University. The official process of returning stage by stage of the Episcopal Residence started only in 2004. In 2006 we started the renovation-reconstruction process of the Residence. Since then there has been accomplished following: outer facade, two towera with cupolas, roof construction and cover. Furthermore, there have been returned and renovated seven rooms of the episcopal apartment and the episcopal chapel on the second floor of the Residence(240m2 out of near 3000m2). In May 2009 the building of the Episcopal Residence was officially registered as a property of Mukachevo Greek Catholic Eparchy. On April 24, 2010 Bishop Milan Sasik CM solemnly consecrated partly renovated attic floor of the Episcopal Residence. There were completed 750 m2 out of 1104 m2 of the attic floor area. At present all essential Eparchy Administration offices temporarily occupy the rooms of the attic floor until the complete renovation is finished of the first and second floors of the Residence. Also there was started a process of transference of the State University Library from the Resindence to the State University building. Recently second floor is vacated.
At present Orthodox Church (under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate that has never been present in the history of Transcarpathia until the 20th century) in Transcarpathia has over 500 parish communities, 2 eparchies and more than 40 monasteries. Besides 260 of our former church buildings Orthodoxies possess great number of churches built in-between two World Wars and also a significant number of new churches that have been built since 1991.
Mukachevo Greek Catholic Eparchy is located in the center of geographical Europe. Our Eparchy neighbors with four countries – Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland. The location itself gives us the mission to become the bridge between the east and the west traditions of the Universal Church. Unfortunately the present situation of disagreement with our Orthodox brothers conserning our Church immovable properties, the situation, which we inherited after the 40 years of Godless regime, hinder the improvement and fullvalue development of the eccumenical dialogue.