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Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, 1933-2017

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Ukrainian Congress Committee of America

The following statement was released by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America on June 8.

Ukrainians around the world are mourning the passing of His Eminent Beatitude, Lubomyr Cardinal Husar, major archbishop emeritus of Kyiv and Halych. Known outside of our community for his tenure as head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church from 2001 to 2011, in the hearts of Ukrainian Americans, he remained one of our own since his immigration to the United States in 1949.

Only six years after His Beatitude’s life began, he and his father and mother, Yaroslav and Rostyslava, somehow survived the combined onslaught of the Nazi and Soviet armies as they laid siege to their hometown of Lviv in September of 1939. After an additional four years of living under Nazi occupation, the Husars fled their homeland, just prior to the start of the Soviet occupation. Starting at the age of 11, the future spiritual leader of millions of Ukrainians would finish out the rest of his childhood near Salzburg, Austria, obtaining an education in a displaced persons camp. (He would remain an active member of the Salzburg Gymnasium Alumni Association through his life.)

For families such as the Husars, their fortunes changed dramatically upon the passage of the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. Spearheaded by a nascent Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, this legislative act opened the doors for more than 200,000 displaced persons to enter the United States between 1949 and 1951, 85,000 of whom were displaced Ukrainians. The early life of His Beatitude reflects the story of many such Ukrainian Americans who survived the displaced persons camps and who thrived in their new homeland: active membership in Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization and its Chervona Kalyna fraternity; the family’s membership in the Ukrainian National Association; and assisting his father with upkeep of the Ukrainian National Home in New York City.

Upon recognizing his spiritual calling, he entered the novitiate at St. Basil’s College, the Ukrainian Catholic seminary in Stamford, Conn., (where he graduated magna cum laude). He then went on to complete contemporaneous studies at St. Josaphat’s Seminary and the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., as well as Fordham University in New York City (which proudly displays his patriarchal coat of arms at the Catholic university’s church sanctuary).

From 1958 to 1969, Father Husar returned to teach at his alma mater, St. Basil’s College, and between 1966 and 1969 he served as the pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Kerhonkson, N.Y., ministering to many in our community who would summer at Soyuzivka. During this period, he also served as chaplain of the Ukrainian American Youth Association’s summer camps in nearby Ellenville, N.Y.

Cardinal Husar was an incredible pastor whose words and deeds moved Ukrainians to action beyond what others believed was possible. Under his leadership, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church transferred the seat of its metropolitanate from Lviv to Kyiv, and conducted the largest number of synods in the Church’s history, strengthening the Church’s moral authority to assist all of Ukrainian society, both in Ukraine and abroad. In 2005, Cardinal Husar became the first Ukrainian Greek-Catholic ever to participate in a papal conclave convened to elect a new pope.

Even after departing for Rome in 1969, or after returning to Lviv in 1991 upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union, then-Bishop Husar never forgot his “American roots” and would return to minister to his flock whenever we would need him most. He helped us champion a national monument dedicated to the victims of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933, in Washington and led our remembrance of that tragedy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. As cardinal, His Beatitude could be found walking the halls of Congress in Washington, extolling on the plight of the Ukrainian Catholic faithful under repression in the Russian Federation. And at the 19th Congress of Ukrainians of America, representing diaspora organizations and leadership from across the United States, Cardinal Husar called upon the delegates and guests to work towards uniting throughout his adopted homeland, remarking that, “The years have shown us that in unity there is strength.”

The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America shares in the deep sorrow of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and the Ukrainian nation upon the passing of our shepherd. May his memory be eternal!

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