Why do we establish Eastern Catholic Churches in the west such as Ireland and the UK?
Every time I run into someone and I say ”I am a practicing Eastern Catholic of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ireland”, Their response usually is ”But you are not Ukrainian”. In truth many of the people who attend Blessed Nicholas parish in Ireland are not just of Ukrainian origin but of slavic origin in general, but Irish converts also attend. However, the late Fr.Serge ( Brian ) Kelleher who served there was of Irish Roman Catholic parents. He was fluent in Slavonic, Ukrainian, Greek, Russian, As Gaelige and I am sure many other languages too. This proves that the UGC is not a Church whose primary objective is to see only to and cater for just Ukrainians. The Catholic Church is universal and is for everyone.
Could you imagine the reply you get from me when you tell me you are Roman Catholic? ”Hey, but… you are not Italian huh? and you don’t speak latin either”. Yes it is a danger for the UGC to be setting missionary Churches up in the west such as Ireland and the U.K as only a respite for those Ukrainians or Greeks far from home. The Eastern Churches should be establishing themselves to preach the Gospel to all for God has no favourites. It would be a mistake for Roman Churches to set up missions in a protestant territory if it only wanted to cater for the few Roman Catholics that existed among them in mind.
So lets not associate the Catholic Church with our culture. As Pope Paul VI said that, although culture can be a useful tool in evangelisation, God does transcend culture as does his Church. Oscar Wilde once also said that ”Patriotism is a virtue of the wicked.” Therefore in order to evangelise in truth, we need to drop our patriotic hearts and look beyond the veil of culture that often blinds and restrains us from branching out beyond the four walls that we live in and even living the Gospel message ourselves.
Lastly to illustrate my point on how culture is but an illusion living in our heads, and that God does indeed transcend culture let me tell you a short story and brief one.
An Indian was captured by bandits from his country across the border in Pakistan. They blindfolded him and threw him into the back of a van to be taken into the wilderness and to be put to death. So they said to him: ”Have you any last requests?” ”please” cried the Indian native ”let me see my country India just one last time”. So they obeyed his last request and they drove him out to his beautiful India. The moment they took his blindfold off the man cried and dropped to his knees. He cried: ”Oh my beautiful indian soil, my beautiful indian trees and landscape, never will I see you again”. Then one of the bandits shouted ”hey we made a mistake, the border to India is not for another 20 minutes or so. We are still in Pakistan”.
So what did the Indian see if not his beautiful India? What was it he was crying about and looking at? I’ll leave you with that question to answer and it would be interesting to see your response.