Andrew Ilnycky, head of the Calgary Friends of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), writes about the group’s visit to the university on May 21
Well, the Calgary Pilgrims from St. Stephen Protomartyr Church are finally back from the pilgrimage led by Father Peter Babej, which included a visit to Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, and a bus tour through Ukraine to various religious and holy sites. The pilgrimage provided an opportunity to obtain detailed knowledge of the history of the Church in Constantinople, from where it was brought by Prince Volodymyr to Kyiv in 988, and the modern-day era of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC), which emerged from the catacombs only 25 years ago.
One of the modern-day institutions of the UGCC is the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv. On May 21 we spent a half day at UCU, visiting all three of its campuses and seeing all of its various departments. Unfortunately, the group had dwindled a bit owing to very bad colds such that some stayed behind at the hotel to recuperate. Nonetheless, those of us who were healthy enough enjoyed a very memorable experience.
The day commenced with a Divine Liturgy at the current UCU student church near Stryisky Park. The tour of UCU’s three campuses started with the original campus on Ilariona Sventsitskoho Street, which houses the Rector’s Office, Administration, Main Library, the Department of International Academic Relations, and most of the research institutes. Students of History, Social Pedagogy, Ecumenical Studies, and Christian Ethics take most of their classes here. In addition to viewing the facilities, a group of us sat in on a very interesting presentation by a group of architects laying out the new Library Building to be located at Stryisky Park.
Our second stop was at the Khutorivka Campus, location of the Faculty of Theology, the Seminary, the Lviv Business School, Institute of Leadership and Management, as well as the School of Journalism and Mass Media. In addition to touring these schools, we also visited the School of Iconography and the Office of Summer Programs.
Our final stop was at the Stryisky Campus, the newest campus. This is the location of the Slipyj Collegium (Residential College), which opened in August 2012 and provides a home to students, faculty members and their families, and rooms for guests and visitors to the university. We saw the construction of the new multi-purpose academic building to be completed by this fall. In all, five buildings are slated to occupy the Stryisky Campus: in addition, the site will hold a counseling center, a new Library and a new Church of the New Martyrs of the Greek Catholic Church (all to be opened by late 2014).
Overall, we found everything at UCU to be impressive in terms of its mission and professional conduct. We had an opportunity to interact with many of the departments including the Lviv Business School, the Iconography School and the Journalism School. A major highlight had to be a visit to a wing of the Slipyj Collegium where the developmentally disabled reside. Dormitory residents interact with these individuals, who become their “professors of love.”
The visit presented an opportunity for one of our tour members, Linda Dudar, who works with St. Mary’s University College (StMU) in Calgary, to exchange a signed Exchange Agreement between StMU and UCU. The photo shows Linda formally presenting the agreement to Prof. Pavlo Khobzey, vice-rector, with Father Peter Babej standing on the right. On the left are the two exchange students, Pattie and Linda, from StMU who were just completing a three-month teaching practicum in Lviv. On our tour we were joined by the two UCU students, Iryna and Juliana, who will be arriving at StMU for this fall’s semester; their infectious personalities seemed to stir up a competition for who will host them in Calgary. Ivan, the student who spoke to us via Skype at our 2012 fundraiser, was not available to join us because he was involved with a final exam during the very hours we were at UCU.
On behalf of the Calgary Friends of UCU, I can only express our deep sense of gratification in seeing one object of our fundraising, the exchange agreement between UCU and StMU, become a reality.
To cap things off, we all chipped in and enjoyed a nice hot lunch at the student cafeteria.