By Cindy Wooden
Pope Benedict XVI has raised the church jurisdiction for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain to the level of an eparchy, or diocese, and named the U.S. bishop who had been its exarch to be the eparchial bishop.
The new diocese will be known as the Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, the Vatican announced Jan. 18.
Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, 58, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, who had served as apostolic exarch for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain since 2011 continues, but with a new title, the Vatican said.
According to Vatican statistics, there are just over 10,000 Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain, and they are served by 12 diocesan priests. The elevation of the jurisdiction to an eparchy or diocese usually indicates a growth in the stability of a Catholic population and of priests and religious to serve them.
In an email response to questions, Bishop Lonchyna said, “An exarchate is a temporary structure and may be suppressed if there is no need for it,” for example, if most of the people have died or moved away. “But an eparchy, like a diocese, is permanent; it may not be suppressed. If, however, there no longer are any faithful, it becomes a titular see,” which are the dioceses assigned to auxiliary bishops.
As for the name of the new eparchy, the bishop said it is taken from the name of the Ukrainians’ cathedral church in London, Holy Family.
At the age of 22, Bishop Lonchyna professed his vows as a member of the Studite Monks in Grottaferrata, Italy, in 1976. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1977. He holds a license in biblical theology from the Pontifical Urbanian University and a degree in Eastern liturgical theology from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome.
After serving as the spiritual director of the major seminary in Lviv, Ukraine, and teaching at the theological academy there, he was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of Lviv in 2002.
A year later, he was appointed apostolic visitor for Ukrainian Catholics in Italy; in 2004 he also was given responsibility for the pastoral care of Ukrainian Catholics in Spain and Ireland.
He moved to London in 2009 as apostolic administrator of the Ukrainian exarchate. – CNS