On 19 May, graduation ceremonies for participants of the formation program “Christian spirituality in the post-modern era” were held at the University Church of the Holy Wisdom of God. The celebration had a prayerful spirit: Taizé prayers, reading the Gospel, and songs.
Fr. Yuriy Kozlovskyi, Master of the Collegium said that the formation program differentiates the UCU Collegium from other student residences not only in Ukraine but in the world. “This is a unique proposal addressed to especially active students, who have the opportunity to develop their spirituality, personal qualities, and social skills through participation in the life of a community which unites students, professors, religious, and people with special needs.” Fr. Kozlovskyi said that the main task of the formation program is to teach students to serve: “In order to serve, it’s necessary to understand and recognize the dignity of those you serve. It’s necessary to love and respect those people. So let us be grateful to all who now serve us in the trenches and affirm our dignity.”
UCU Rector Fr. Bohdan Prach thanked the Lord and the nation’s defenders for the opportunity to be together with the graduates on this day. Joining in the greetings, the rector said he hopes the students will bring into the world the values which they received while living in the Collegium: “On the day of the end of the formation program of our Collegium, I hope that you will achieve everything that you started here. Continue to bring these good seeds into the world. I hope that when you leave the university you will only go forward, bringing with you Christian truths and creating good environments.”
Metropolitan Archbishop of the UGCC Archeparchy of Philadelphia Borys Gudziak, President of UCU, addressing the graduates of the Collegium from the USA, emphasized that the world needs leaders who don’t fear death. “If we don’t fear death, then we won’t fear other things. A person who has God-given dignity is not afraid. He or she has wings. So the rector, professors, and curators of the Collegium cover you with their wings. They love you, because we are called to love. Foster the seed which was planted at UCU, which the Lord planted in your hearts.”
In conclusion, Archbishop Gudziak thanked the students, curators, and administration of the university and Collegium for their service and courage: “Today you live in a difficult and painful time, but it is salvific. I hope that peace may come to us and that the fruits of these great sacrifices may not be lost without a trace. Teach those around you not to fear death, embrace your neighbors, witness and show your wounds.”
Graduates of the formation program consider that throughout the year they had a unique opportunity to live in a community where each can grow spiritually: “As Archbishop Borys noted today, UCU most importantly teaches how to live, even despite students’ high academic ratings. The most valuable thing that I received here are these real lessons for life, growth in community and freedom. This gives the strength to move forward and get up every morning,” said Anna Kolisnyk, a graduate of the formation program and a student of the School of Journalism and Communication.
During the graduation ceremonies, each of the students had an opportunity to place a candle on a map of Ukraine in that area that he or she is from or for which he or she wants to pray.
“I place a candle on Cherhihiv, because I’m from there,” said Yaroslav Volyaninov, graduate of the first year of the formation program. “This is the city of my pride, a city of heroes, and I am exceptionally grateful to our defenders for their appeal to our hearts and souls, because I understand that, if not for them, perhaps my hometown would already not exist.”
At the end, the Master of the Collegium, Fr. Yuriy Kozlovskyi, presented certificates to the curators and also signs of gratitude to the Collegium’s media team for cooperation and informational support throughout the year. The celebration ended with the viewing of a film about the lives of the residents of the Collegium, after which those present recorded a group video address to Ukraine’s defenders, who stand guard over Ukraine’s peaceful sky.