Metropolitan Andriy Sheptytsky monument unveiled in Lviv

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July 29, 2015 will remain a historic day for Ukrainians: it was the day of the solemn unveiling in Lviv of the monument to Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky marking the 150th anniversary of his birth.

“Serving God is serving the people.” Metropolitan A. Sheptytsky.

Installed in St. George Cathedral square the stately sculpture was created by Andriy Koverko, the renowned modernist sculptor who back in 1932 had erected a monument to the Metropolitan on the grounds of the Catholic Academy of Theology. It was destroyed by the Soviets.

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The unveiling ceremony commenced with a Holy Liturgy celebrated by Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. A documentary film about the life and accomplishments of Metropolitan Andrei was screened after the Liturgy.

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“The Metropolitan lived his life filled with love and commitment to others, with sacrifice and devotion to his people. His many-sided work for the good of the people, in religious, national, cultural, economic, and philanthropic spheres was so far-reaching that every person of that time was personally affected; every organization, every office functioned with the support of the Metropolitan. The great Metropolitan performed acts for the people no one else was able to perform. He was endowed with the remarkable gift to be a great Leader of the people. And he was. The Metropolitan traveled to take part in congresses, conferences, and councils, standing up for the Ukrainian people and demanding that their right to exist as a sovereign nation be recognized and respected,” the film proclaimed.

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“Our work is not political. Those who are silent are doing political work. Those who silently watch the masses of people dying. Silence is criminal. Europe’s dormant conscience must be roused,” wrote Metropolitan Andrei in his epistle, raising awareness about the Holodomor. The relevance and depth of those words have not lost their power today when Ukraine is in a state of war and is seeking concrete ways to end it.

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After the singing of the Ukrainian anthem the President took the podium: “The best memorial to the Metropolitan is the fact that Ukraine is an independent nation making strides to join the family of European nations. People like Metropolitan Andrei are our gold. Using the church as the foundation Metropolitan Sheptytskyi created a model for a Ukrainian nation,” remarked President Petro Poroshenko who arrived with his wife, Maria. 

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“We cannot change the progress of history. Sooner or later empires fall to pieces, while the human spirit, the power of truth, and the power of faith are eternal. In a time when terror was unleashed against the church and against the people Metropolitan Andrei served as an example of a fearless and steadfast servant of the Lord. His life proved that idols do not last while faith, hope and love remain with us always. God remains with us. Forever. I am convinced that we shall overcome all our challenges,” the President ended his remarks with optimism. 

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“It can unequivocally be stated that the story of the memorial to Metropolitan Andrei in Lviv is a story of struggle. It is a story of the struggle of the Ukrainian people for liberty, for owning their history, their national self-awareness, and their religious and national identity. It is the story of the struggle for life and for a better, God-blessed future,” the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk said. 

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“A man of courage, a promoter of unity and love, Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytskyi should be the example each of us should follow. ‘The world is dying because there is not enough love to sustain it…’ the Metropolitan wrote in one of his epistles. Let us love one another and let us pray for peace!”

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The story and photo report by Uliana Bilous, EMPR

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