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   Monastic orders

Monastic orders and religious congregations of the UGCC

Male Monastic Orders and Congregations

Basilians, Basilian Order of Saint Josaphat (OSBM)

The founder of the Basilian Order (OSBM) is St. Basil the Great (4th century). His ascetic rules became an example for Saint Teodozii Pecherskyi, one of the first monks on Ukrainian land who founded many monasteries in Ukraine. At the beginning of the 17th century Metropolitan Veniamyn Rutskyi united the separate monasteries. He set rules for the monks, which to this day remain the basis of Basilian life. This reform led to the unprecedented growth of the OSBM. From the end of the 18th to the beginning of the 19th century the OSBM suffered great losses for two reasons: (1) it was totally liquidated in those areas which, as a result of the partition of Poland, had passed under the rule of the Russian Empire and (2) monasteries within the Austrian Empire were suppressed.

Beginning in 1882, the Jesuit Fathers, at the order of Pope Leo XIII, reformed the Basilian Order. Basilians trained during this reform became missionaries to Brazil, Canada, the USA and Argentina. By 1949 the Communist authorities had liquidated all the Basilian provinces in Europe (except in Poland and Yugoslavia). Three hundred and fifty Basilians were sent to Siberia. Regardless of this great loss, the OSBM was active during the underground period of the UGCC. There were many new vocations. The order also continued to grow in Canada, the USA, Brazil and Argentina, where there were 31 monasteries and about 250 religious. After the fall of the Communist regime provinces of the OSBM were revived in Ukraine, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. Today there are 30 monasteries and 37 residences in these countries.

Mission of the OSBM: pastoral work-- they serve 62 parishes in Ukraine, about 650 other churches, 9 missions in eastern Ukraine; publishing activities-- the publishing house Misioner ("Missionary") has its press in Zhovkva, the publishing house Record of the Order of Saint Basil the Great is in Rome; educational activities-- almost every province has a house for training young religious, a house of philosophical studies, a minor seminary; Basilians are rectors at the Papal College of St. Josaphat in Rome, they broadcast an educational radio program from the Vatican.


The modern history of the Studite Monks begins at the start of the 20th century. Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky established the order to renew Eastern monasticism in the Church. The first renewed monastery of the Studite Order was established in 1904 in Sknyliv, near Lviv. In 1906 Metropolitan Andrey, as the archimandrite (abbot) of the Studites, set a Typicon (rule book) for the order. Many monks were repressed during the First World War. At the beginning of the Second World War there were 196 Studite monks in Galicia (western Ukraine), the Lemkiv region (in present-day Poland) and the Hutsul region (near the Carpathian Mountains). The monasteries were liquidated with the coming of the Communist regime, most of the monks were sent to Siberia. A small group of Studites managed to leave for the West and to found Holy Dormition Monastery in Woodstock, Canada. After the Greek Catholic Church was outlawed, the Studites continued to operate in the underground. In 1963 Patriarch Josyf Slipyj became the order's patron. In 1973 Lubomyr Husar, now the head of the Church, became archimandrite (abbot) of the Studites outside of Ukraine. Today there are 90 Studite monks in 8 monasteries in Ukraine, Canada and Italy. There are two lavras (major monasteries).

Mission of the Studites: catechizing children and youth-- every year the Studite retreat house in Yaremche (in the Carpathian Mountains) hosts 200 children from the Chernobyl zone; educational activities-- the religious publishing house Svichado operates from the monastery in Lviv as does a workshop of sacred art, Rozvii ("Unfolding"); other work-- cultivating medicinal plants, bee hives. The monastic day is composed of 8 hours of prayer, 8 hours of work and 8 hours of rest.

Redemptorists, Order of the Most Holy Redeemer (CSsR)

St. Alphonsus Liguori founded the Order in 1732. In 1906 the Belgian Redemptorist Achille Delaere, working among Ukrainians in Canada, began the Eastern rite branch of the Redemptorists. In 1913 with the encouragement of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky the Order was founded in Ukraine. At first the Order had its province in Univ, later in Zboischi in the Lviv region. Eventually the Order was established in Ternopil, Stanislaviv and Volyn. The Order spread devotion to the Mother of Perpetual Help and Stanislaviv became the center of societies for this devotion in the Eastern rite. In 1938 there were about 200 such societies with about 100,000 members. At the beginning of the Second World War the Redemptorists had 8 houses and about 70 religious. Many Redemptorists Fathers were later involved in teaching in the underground seminary.

The Order developed in the diaspora. The Ukrainian Redemptorists in Canada today have 6 houses, in the USA they have one. Thirty-five religious live in these buildings, and there are 5 Redemptorist bishops. With the legalization of the UGCC the Redemptorist Fathers resumed legal pastoral activities. Lviv became their biggest center (the monastery in Holosko). The Redemptorists also opened houses in Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Novoiavorivsk and a mission in Prokopiev (Kemerovsk region, Russia). Today there are 97 Redemptorists in Ukraine. Students of the Order study in the Warsaw province.

The Lviv province has four confessors of the faith, Bishop Nicholas Charnetsky and Bishop Basil Velychkovsky, blessed Zenovii Kovalyk and Ivan Ziatyk.

Mission of the Redemptorists: evangelization of the most needy; spiritual training of priests of the order, nuns and laypeople, youth ministry; search for new ways of dialoguing with modern youth.
Redemptorist summer program: Young people work in missions, soup kitchens; they spend time with the poorest of the poor.
St. Alphonsus Mission (Canada): a Ukrainian Catholic community where secular young people live and perform missionary work together with Redemptorist Fathers.

Salesians, Congregation of the Salesian Fathers of St. Don Bosco

The founder of the Salesians was the Italian priest St. Don Bosco (1815-1880). Fr. Kyrylo Seletskyi was the first Ukrainian Salesian. Western Ukraine learned about the Salesians through Fr. Seletskyi's book Fr. Don Bosco, his life and work (1900). In the early 1930s Josaphat Kotsylovskyi, bishop of Przemysl, sent 30 of his seminarians to the Congregation's general house in Italy. In 1945 Fr. S. Chmil was the first to be ordained of those who had been sent. After the war the Salesians extended their work among the Ukrainian diaspora in Western Europe. A minor seminary was created, first in France and then in Rome (1951-1996). The Ukrainian Salesians were especially active in Argentina. The Salesian Andrei Sapelyak became the first bishop for Ukrainian Catholics in Argentina.

With the revival of the UGCC in Ukraine the Salesians renewed their work at the Church of the Protection of the Mother of God in Lviv; before the war it had belonged to the Polish Salesians. Today it is one of the biggest parishes in Lviv, with about 20,000 faithful. The only canonical Salesian house in Ukraine, with 27 religious, serves this parish.

Mission of the Salesians: The Salesian Congregation is composed of priests and lay people. They live together in community. Special attention is given to youth ministry, especially with youth who have been rejected by society. There is a youth center, called an oratory, where young people and children gather for common prayer and leisure. During summer vacation the Salesians organize daily walks for children and youth to historical places or in parks and scenic areas. About 400 people take part in these activities yearly.

Miles Jesu (M.J.)

In 1990 at the invitation of the UGCC Miles Jesu ("Soldier of Jesus") members Tom Creen and Steven Ryan came to Ukraine from America. In 1992 the first MJ community was established in the village of Bortnyky and in 1993 another in Lviv. Today 14 members live in the two communities. In addition to consecrated celibates there are also full members of the community who are married laypeople.

Mission of M.J.: The order arose because of the new understanding of the vocation of laity in the Church, as explained in the Vatican II constitution Lumen Gentium. A priority for Miles Jesu is work with the laity: retreats, generally conducted in the apartments of the faithful, and "Challenge," a special 10-day retreat. During a Challenge retreat the members of the community live together with the retreatants, they take part in charitable activities, they invite orphans and homeless to the community.

Female religious communities

Basilians, Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil the Great (OSBM)

The history of the female branch of the Basilians reaches back to the 4th century. In 1037 Yaroslav the Wise built the first convent in which nuns lived according to the rule of St. Basil in Ukraine. With the reforms of Metropolitan Rutskyi (1617) the convents became independent of each other. After the partition of Poland monastic life was harshly oppressed. Out of 25 convents in 1772, not one was left in the territory of Russia and only two in the territory of Austria. The reform of the Basilian Fathers, and eventually the renewal of the chapter of the Basilian Sisters thanks to Metropolitan Sheptytsky, led to the development of convents. Houses of the Basilian Sisters were founded in the USA, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Argentina, and Slovakia.

In 1951 the Holy See led the centralization of the Order and gave it papal approval. During the underground period of the UGCC the Order continued. Already in 1959 new novices appeared in the underground monasteries. Sisters helped the underground priests in their pastoral work.

Today the Sisters are organized into 7 provinces, 3 delegatures, 3 missions and 4 contemplative monasteries. In Ukraine, Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania there are 644 Basilian Sisters, 155 of whom are in Ukraine.

Mission of the Basilian Sisters: the Sisters catechize children, youth and adults in parishes and schools; they work in charitable institutions: orphanages, hospitals; they are involved in educational activities, they work as editors in the religious press, publishing houses.

Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate (SSMI)

The SSMI were founded in Galicia (western Ukraine) in 1892 as the first active apostolic congregation of nuns in the Eastern rite. The motivation was to address the problem of the particular spiritual poverty of the Ukrainian village. The first house was formed in the village of Zhuzhil at the initiative of Fr. Yeremia Lomnytskyi, OSBM, Fr. Kyrylo Seletskyi, the local pastor, and Sister Mykhailina Hordashevska, the first superior of the convent (her religious name is Josaphata). Sr. Josaphata will be beatified by the Pope during his visit to Ukraine.
In the villages where the SSMI worked, pre-schools were opened, the sick found care, young and adult women gathered into religious organizations. The people loved the joyful and tireless sisters of this congregation. Ten years after the founding about 100 sisters lived in 20 convents. In 1930 the SSMI received papal approval. With the liquidation of the UGCC they continued activities in the underground. The SSMI spread to Canada, Yugoslavia, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Poland, France, Argentina and Australia. Today in Ukraine (Galicia, eastern Ukraine and Transcarpathia) there are 25 active communities of the SSMI with 167 sisters.

Mission of the SSMI: catechizing children, youth and adults; healing the sick with natural methods; work in humanitarian institutions, helping people with special needs.

Sisters of St. Joseph, the Spouse of the Virgin Mary

The Josephites were founded in 1898 by Fr. Kyrylo Seletskyi. The young ladies who formed the first house in the village of Tsebliv intended to enter the community of the Sisters Servants in Zhuzhil, but they were not received into the order. Fr. K. Seletskyi took them under his care. The ladies gathered for prayer and together they looked after the sick. In 1906 Fr. Seletskyi acquired some land and a building for the sisters and for orphan children. At that time the official name of the congregation was the Society of St. Joseph the Spouse. The Sisters conducted bookbinding work, wove rugs, sewed and embroidered.

Beginning in 1921 the Redemptorist Fathers, under the spiritual direction of the bishop of Przemysl, Josaphat Kotsylovskyi, looked after the sisters. In connection with the internal politics of pre-WWII Poland, the Society ceased its activities in 1937, but its members created a monastic community. At this time in the eparchy of Przemysl there were 30 monasteries with 180 sisters. The Josephites were persecuted with the liquidation of the UGCC, but they did not cease their activities. Today the main house of the order is in Krakow, Poland. In Ukraine there are 64 sisters in 11 houses; in Poland there are 16 sisters in 5 houses, in Canada 14 sisters in 2 houses, in Brazil 20 sisters in 4 houses.

Mission of the Josephites: organizing and caring for orphans, they do civil work, in hospitals and other places where the weak and the needy are gathered, they operate an old people's home (Saskatoon, Canada).

Sisters Catechists of Saint Anne

The Sisters of Saint Anne were founded in Brazil by Fr. Omelian Josaphat Ananevych in 1932. They were at first called Sisters Catechists, Third Order Franciscans. Their goal was the Christian education of Ukrainians living in Brazil. Since 1962 the Basilian Fathers have been responsible for their spiritual direction. They have been in Ukraine since 1991.
In Brazil, the USA, Italy and Ukraine there are 18 houses in which 103 sisters live (Of these there are 18 sisters in 2 houses in Ukraine).

Mission of the Sisters of Saint Anne: catechizing children, youth and adults in parishes, schools, hospitals, special camps: organization of the Apostleship of Prayer, Marian Society, Eucharistic Society; work in hospitals, orphanages, old people's homes; keeping order in churches and taking care of liturgical vestments.

Sisters of the Holy Family

The Co-founders of the Sisters of the Holy Family were Father O. Dykyi and Teklia Yuzefiv from the village of Novyi Martyniv (Ivano-Frankivsk region). A young girl had been with the Sisters of St. Joseph in the village of Tsebliv. But because she became sick, she had to leave the convent. Fr. Dykyi founded a congregation in Zhovkva with an easier rule. In 1912 the convent was moved to the village of Hoshiv (also in the Ivano-Frankivsk region). When the UGCC was liquidated in 1946, there were 78 sisters in 20 houses in the Lviv, Stanislaviv and Przemysl eparchies. In the underground the Sisters prepared children for first holy communion. They actively worked in the period of the legalization of the UGCC.

Today in the Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil eparchies there are 103 sisters. There are also sisters in Italy and Canada.

Mission of the Sisters of the Holy Family: catechizing children and youth; they work in shelters and orphanages connected with schools. The sisters are active in missions in eastern Ukraine (Chernobyl, Sumy, Kherson), in Transcarpathia and among the Ukrainian diaspora in areas of the former Soviet Union (Estonia, Kazakstan, Russia).
Studite Sisters, Holy Protection Convent

The Studite Order for Women began in Ukraine in 1924 at the initiative of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky. The first monastery was in the village of Yaktoriv. The Sisters worked the fields, kept bees, wove baskets, worked in orphanages, kindergartens and schools. The published the magazine Yasna Put ("The Clear Path"). The foundation of the life of the Studites is ceaseless prayer. In 1950 all the monasteries of the women Studites were liquidated (except in Przemysl, Poland). During the time of the underground UGCC 17 nuns entered the monastery.
Today the community has 63 nuns.

The mission of the Studite Sisters: work in hospitals, orphanages, embroidering liturgical vestments, catechizing, education.Schedule of life in the convent: 8 hours of prayers according to the full ecclesiastical order, 8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest.

The Sisters of the Priest and Martyr St. Josaphat Kuntsevych (Josaphat Sisters)

The Josaphat Sisters were founded in the second half of the 18th century in the village of Bilii, in the Pidliashshia area where the relics of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych were located. The founders of the order were Fr. Timotei and Palaheia-Kateryna Bril. The task of the order was to protect the mortal remains of the priest and martyr St. Josaphat. The community was considered the Basilian Third Order. In 1873 Russia liquidated the congregation in Pidliashshia and the Kholm area. In 1912 the congregation revived its activities at the initiative of Maria Zavaliy and her sister Anna. That same year in the village of Kizlov in the Busk district the first novitiate of the congregation opened. The Sisters received land and lodging in the town of Busk. Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky was especially concerned about the Josaphat Sisters. During the underground UGCC the congregation catechized children, helped underground priests in their pastoral activities. The Josaphat Sisters were especially active during the time of the legalization of the UGCC.
Today there are 36 Josaphat Sisters with 8 houses in Ukraine.

Mission of the order: to work to strengthen the Catholic spirit among the Ukrainian people; teaching girls and women the Catholic faith, propagating the Catholic press. The Sisters also work in schools and parishes, travel on mission, especially to eastern Ukraine; they prepare youth for Christian married life.

Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent de Paul (Vincentians)

Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky founded the Vincentians in Ukraine in 1926 after visiting their congregation in Belgium. The first sisters lived in Stanislaviv (present-day Ivano-Frankivsk), taking care of orphans. In the 1930s the Sisters took care of the sick in a clinic in Lviv which was founded by Metropolitan Andrey. In 1939 one hundred and twenty four children from a Vincentian orphanage were sent to Siberia. The convents were liquidated. Metropolitan Andrey gave the Sisters refuge in the palace of the metropolitanate. The Sisters took care of Metropolitan Andrey until his death in 1944. In the underground period the Sisters continued to work in hospitals, conducting pastoral work there.
Today there are 65 Vincentian Sisters with houses in Lviv and Ternopil. The Redemptorist Fathers provide spiritual direction for the sisters.

Mission of the order: to help the unfortunate, the most needy, both physically and spiritually. The Sisters work in the Sheptytsky Clinic in Lviv, in orphanages in Lviv and Ternopil, they work together with emergency medical workers in Viareggio, Italy, they care for orphaned children in the Chernobyl zone.

Salesian Sisters, Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians

The Salesian Sisters were founded in 1872 by St. Don Bosco and St. Maria Madzarello in northern Italy. In Ukraine they began in August, 1992. Their general mission is to work at the Church of the Protection of the Mother of God in Lviv.

Mission of the Salesian Sisters: joyful Christian service, ecumenical cooperation, catechizing children and youth in kindergartens, schools, special camps, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and with foreign language lessons.

Sisters of the Most Holy Eucharist

Bishop Nicholas Charnetsky founded the Sisters of the Most Holy Eucharist in 1957 after returning from imprisonment. The Sisters worked in the Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Transcarpathia regions. The congregation began with 40 sisters. They worked in civil jobs, on collective farms, and they also prepared children for first holy communion, they prepared adults for the sacrament of baptism. They gathered people for the liturgy. After the Church came out from the underground, His Beatitude Myroslav-Ivan blessed the development of the congregation. Today there are 35 Sisters of the Most Holy Eucharist in Ukraine.

Mission of the Sisters: the Sisters work in the consistory, they catechize children, teach Christian Ethics and foreign languages.

Myrrh-bearing Sisters under the Protection of St. Mary Magdalene

The Myrrh-bearing Sisters were founded in 1910 in Krystynopol (Lviv region) by Fr. Yulian Datsii, OSBM. The congregation was founded to gather the funds to build a home for orphans and the poor. The first members of the congregation vowed to build two buildings: one for the people, one for the congregation. In 1913 the first convent arose; 15 sisters lived there. In 1938 Hryhorii Khomyshyn, bishop of Stanislav, invited the congregation to his eparchy.

In 1939 the congregation was dispersed. In the underground the majority of Sisters began to work in medical institutions. With the money they earned they sent parcels to priests in Siberia. Not one sister in the underground left the community; they even grew. After the UGCC came out from the underground the congregation actively helped in reviving the Church.
There are 42 Myrrh-bearing Sisters, with houses in Ivano-Frankivsk, Bohorodychani and Kolomya.

Mission: care of the sick and needy, orphan children, educating children in the Christian spirit, care of church buildings, adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist. The congregation is both missionary and contemplative.

© Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, 2008