The annual UCU Days of the Ukrainian Catholic University is a celebration that brings together a great variety of people: first-year students, who’ve just entered; students who already have experience in studies; graduates who bring the university’s values into the world; teachers; friends of UCU who support young people through stories and conversations; and also benefactors, who have an opportunity to become better acquainted with the community. This year’s events for the opening of the academic year lasted from 8 to 14 September, generally in an online format, which opened up a number of possibilities, in particular, to join with viewers from the whole world. You can now read what was most memorable about UCU Days 2020.
The celebrations started with an online event on the university campus. At the Park Auditorium of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Center, a small circle of listeners gathered, with advance registration and maintaining all new rules and safety norms. The President of UCU, Archbishop Borys Gudziak, opened the evening with an address to those present offline and online. He recalled the history and triumphs of the UCU community and greeted new students at the start of a new and very important stage in their lives.
The archbishop also shared some spiritual lessons learned during quarantine: “We do not err when we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, or telephone a lonely individual. We do not err when we mention someone in our prayers. Make the connection between yourself and God three-sided, inviting neighbors and serving them. In this way we fill up the time of fear which paralyzes us. This limited period of our life should be filled with sacrifice. Then you will understand that you are no longer so depressed and you can help more and share with others. The nature of love is that in giving we are enriched.”
After the archbishop finished, the attendees heard online talks. One of the three winners of “teacher of the year,” Halyna Teslyuk, a professor at the Department of Biblical Studies of the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, talked about biblical lessons during the pandemic and social challenges, and confirmed, as Holy Scripture does, that God will give us the strength to overcome evil.
Another awardee, a teacher of the Philology Department of the Humanities Faculty, Danylo Ilnytskyi, spoke of the free interaction which is parallel with academic discussions that happen in the UCU community thanks to its free horizon – a horizon of coexistence, personal development, and social ministry of active youth. As Ilnytskyi said, a project like this allows the vitality of interaction and true love to be realized, which is one of the fundamental Christian ideas.
Another awardee, Professor Rostyslav Hryniv of the Faculty of Applied Sciences, shared his thoughts about the question of whether education can be through a distance or whether we are prepared to accept a new reality and what education will be like in the near future. Hryniv affirmed that good education is not only about knowledge and competency but about worldview and an awareness of one’s place in the world. A recording of the first day’s talks can be seen HERE
On Wednesday 9 September the orientation session for first-year students started, organized traditionally, to help the newcomers adapt to a new environment. All the evening talks at this time happened online.
This was the first UCU Days in which students had an opportunity to be heard. Maria Banias, a 4th-year in the Bachelor’s Program in Philology, shared advice on how to find your own quiet place, for “even tireless travelers make stops and even the strongest equipment needs pauses in work.”
Taras Kurylko, a 4th-year student in the History Program, told the story of his own experience: finishing online education in spring, the experience of quarantine, and the lessons he and we all managed to learn during the uncertainties of the last half-year.
Viktoria Volianska, a 4th-year student in the Bachelor’s Program Ethics-Politics-Economics, in her talk turned attention to how the strength of daily decisions helps us conquer fear, get rid of the influence of other opinions, and value the time which is lost when we put things off for later.
Daryna Kolmyk, a 2nd-year student of the Bachelor’s Program in Sociology, in her talk asserted: each of us has a superpower inside which can lead to successful stories, and she shared why it is so important to compare yourself today only with yourself yesterday.
After the student presentations, graduates of the university were heard from. Artem Romaniukov, alumnus of the Master’s Program in Public Administration and co-founder of the ecological initiatives Save Dnipro and SaveEcoBot, who recently studied political science at Stanford University in the USA, gave an interview for Inna Voloska, a student of the School of Journalism and Communication, on education as an investment.
Kateryna Hirna, a graduate of the LvBS Master’s Program in Human Resources and Organization Development and HR director of the IT company Avenga, spoke of the challenges and opportunities of today’s labor market and building a career in turbulent times. Andriy Andrushkiv, a graduate of the Master’s Program in Theology, acting director of the Center of Common Activities and a media expert and trainer in communications, summed up: “Are we finished?” or is there hope. You can watch a recording of all the discussions HERE
The talks during UCU Days 2020 concluded with a discussion with friends of the university on Friday 11 September. Halyna Protsyk, a teacher at the Political Science Department and head of UCU’s International Academic Relations Department, spoke, in particular, about viability as a philosophy for every day with Natalia Popovych, an international expert in communications and civic activism and co-founder of the Ukraine Crisis Media Center, founder of the One Philosophy Group of Companies and UCU Senator.
Vasyl Miroshnychenko, co-founder of the company CFC Big Ideas, which specializes in providing services in the strategic communications field, discussed a view of the future: how before our eyes work, life, and the world are changing. Finally, Sean-Patrick Lovett, professor of communications and former director of the English-language service of Vatican Radio, who had experience working with five popes, talked about how not to waste a crisis and implement new rules for a new time. You can watch a recording of this talk HERE
The busy week, full of deep discussions, continued with the traditional gathering of UCU graduates, who had a non-traditional online meeting. In conversation with the alumni, the organizers recalled the achievements of previous years and with a glass of wine rejoiced in the future and presented the new board of the Alumni Association. Future announcements about upcoming meetings can be found by following its Facebook page.
The fifth annual Christian youth festival Viter Na Dii, held on Sunday 13 September, also happened online. But one thing unchanged in the program was musical performances and interesting interviews. In addition, in a live broadcast with greetings and songs for the festival, parishioners from Ukraine and the whole world joined in, including Great Britain, France, Italy, Canada, and Portugal. The entire 11-hour recording of the event can be viewed HERE
The cycle of events concluded with the traditional parish feast day of St. Sophia the Wisdom of God and a festive Liturgy to mark the start of the ecclesiastical and academic year. On Sunday 14 September the community again gathered for a special event, the Day of the Emblem of the University, which everyone can feel as his or her own personal celebration #ВстиліУКУ
During the day the awardees of this year’s Rector’s Prize also became known. The following UCU teachers were awarded for exceptional achievements in scholarly work and high academic standards in scholarly research:
Sr. Atanasia Smetaniak, senior professor of the Philology Department of the Humanities Faculty;
Svitlana Kohut, with a candidate’s degree in pedagogy, head of the Department of Pedagogy and Social Work of the Faculty of Health Sciences;
Maria Horiacha, doctor of theology, professor at the Theology Department of the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy;
Roman Skakun, with a candidate’s degree in history, assistant director of the Institute of Church History;
Rostyslav Paranko, senior professor of the Department of Classical, Byzantine, and Medieval Studies of the UCU Humanities Faculty.
Evening ceremonies starting with the awarding of student scholarships. The students were greeted by: Rector Fr. Bohdan Prach; scholarship student Anastasia Konchakivska; UCU graduate and now Member of Ukraine’s Parliament Pavlo Bakunets; President of UCU Archbishop Borys Gudziak, who shared rules on how to accept a scholarship gift and blessed the university’s benefactors; and also benefactors from Ukraine, Iryna Ivanchuk, and from America, Maria Moroz. In general, the Zoom meeting had a record 600 participants.
A recording of the ceremony can be viewed on Facebook, and the dedication of the commemorative markers of donors to the church on YouTube.
The final day concluded with “Green Gospel,” a performance of the poetry of Bohdan-Ihor Antonych by the UCU School Theater.
This year’s UCU Days was an opportunity to become better acquainted with the university and hear practical experience and share one’s worry or support, questions and advice, and, finally, thoughts and decisions on how further to remain a human being in times of change and challenge. We invite you to watch recordings of the meetings and follow future events of the community of the Ukrainian Catholic University
Text: Tonia Chundak