Lev Romanyshyn for NP-UN.
Saturday November 18th was a joyous day for British Columbian Ukrainian Catholics. That was the day that Michael Kwiatowski officially assumed the title of Bishop of the New Westminster Eparchy, relieving Bishop David Motiuk of the arduous double duty of serving as Bishop of the Eparchy of Edmonton (his home Eparchy) and as Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy of New Westminster. Bishop David has dutifully and capably served the Ukrainian Catholic faithful of BC and Yukon since January 2020, when Bishop Ken Nowakowski was relocated from BC to the post of Bishop of The Holy Family Eparchy in London, UK.
The appointing of a bishop is a multi-step process steeped in religious traditions: Pope Francis first announced Father Michael’s nomination in August 2023. On November 7th, at Sts Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral in Winnipeg, Archbishop and Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak presided over the Great Vespers with the Rite of Episcopal Nomination. Bishop Bryan Bayda, Bishop of Toronto and Eastern Canada and Bishop David Motiuk assisted Metropolitan Huculak. Then, on November 8th, again at Sts Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral, Metropolitan Huculak presided over the Episcopal Ordination of Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski, fittingly, on the feast of St. Michael the Archangel and other Bodiless Powers. Metropolitan Boris Gudziak of Philadelphia and Bishop David Motiuk were co-consecrators. The Farewell Liturgy was held on Sunday November 12th at the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Winnipeg. Then, the ceremonies shifted to Vancouver, where, on Saturday, November 18th, at the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary (St Mary’s) parish at Ash St and 14th Ave, the Enthronement of Bishop Michael took place. Metropolitan Huculak presided over the Enthronement service assisted by a number of Ukrainian Catholic bishops (Bishop David, Bishop Bryan, Bishop Paul Chomnycky, Eparchy of Stamford and Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk, St. Nicholas Eparchy of Chicago) and the priests of the New Westminster Eparchy. Other dignitaries co-consecrating the Enthronement service were several Roman Catholic bishops: Bishops Gregory Bittman (Nelson), Gary Gordon (Victoria), Stephen Jensen (Prince George) and Joseph P Nguyen (Kamloops) as well as the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, His Excellency Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic. On Sunday November 19th, at the Holy Eucharist Cathedral in New Westminster, BC, Bishop Michael presided over the Welcome Divine Liturgy: his first Divine Liturgy as Bishop of the New Westminster Eparchy.
Bishop Michael comes to us with quite an impressive resume. One can read detailed reviews of his placements and accomplishments on the New Westminster Eparchial’s website, but allow me to highlight a few points for you, which, for me, illustrate that Bishop Michael, through his studies and experience, has blended and mastered the important qualities needed as the spiritual head of a Ukrainian Catholic eparchy in Canada:
He was born in 1961 in Manitoba, the third of seven children. Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk ordained him first to the to the Deaconate in September, 1985, then, less than one year later, to the Priesthood in July 1986.
In Canada, much of his Canadian pastoral placements have been in the West, in Manitoba, along with a four-year stint at the Holy Spirit Seminary in Ottawa.
He studied Canon Law in Rome and earned a Doctorate in this field.
He spent approximately ten years in Ukraine, becoming the Chancellor of the Archeparchy of Lviv. He also served as Vice Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.
As you can see, he has hands-on parish experience, managerial experience, both Canadian and Ukrainian experience and is highly educated – a combination that is tough to beat and which indicates that Pope Francis has chosen the right person to lead the spiritual life of the Eparchy and to guide it, and its faithful, into the unknown future.
What also impressed your scribe was that at the banquet following the Enthronement, Bishop Michael made a point of leaving the head table dignitaries and greeting and mingling with the banquet attendees. While on the topic of the banquet, Kalyna Catering put together a truly wonderful meal and towards the end of the formal portion of the banquet, co-MCs, Eugene and Dana Lupynis informed the attendees that next year, 2024, will mark 50 years since the formation of the New Westminster Eparchy. It is good that the Eparchy now has its own bishop in place to lead and help it in planning and commemorating this special anniversary. In their closing remarks, the MCs also gently reminded Bishop Michael that he was no longer in Bombers and Jets territory, but that the Lions and Canucks were the teams of choice out here. While I would imagine that being a bishop is very difficult and serious work, it is heartening to know that Bishop Michael can also take a joke.
Многая літа i Аксіос, Владико Михайле!