The Sheptytsky Institute Study Days and Summer Semester

Lorraine Manley, Ottawa.

The 2015 Sheptytsky Institute Study Days will take place at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto from Thursday evening July 2 to Sunday afternoon, July 5. This is the 7th Study Days session. Previously Ottawa and Edmonton hosted the event. In the past, hundreds of participants from across North America have taken part, and this year should prove no different.

The weekend Study Days will be followed by several weeks of accredited university courses which will start on July 6. This year the professors are Fr. Andriy Chirovsky, Fr. François Beyrouti, and Dr. Brian Butcher.
The theme for the Study Days weekend this year is “Relationships in an Age of Fluidity.” Fr. Peter Galadza, the Institute’s Acting Director, notes: “Who doesn’t need help with relationships these days? It’s always been a challenge. But today, society is changing so quickly that holding on to the core guided by the gospel is even harder.”

The plenary speakers were chosen not only for their expertise, but also because of their ability to address a wide range of issues. Timothy Kelleher, a former seminarian at St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Washington, will be speaking on “Relationships in the Age of the Internet.” Until recently, Kelleher was the new-media editor at First Things magazine. The New York Times has described the magazine as the most influential religious intellectual publication in North America.

Kelleher is also a film and TV actor with almost 120 appearances to his credit. And he is the producer-director of the acclaimed DVD, “The Creed,” produced by First Things. Kelleher, who is married, will be talking about “Facebook” and other social media, as well as phenomena like cyberporn and the damage it inflicts on relationships.

Sister Vassa Larin, an Orthodox nun, will focus on the erosion of trust within church communities and how this affects personal lives and the Church’s witness. Sister is the host of the immensely popular YouTube show, “Coffee with Sr. Vassa.” Born and raised in the New York area, she is a liturgist in the Catholic Theology Faculty of the University of Vienna.

Harold and Rebecca Visser have been active parishioners at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Shrine in Ottawa for almost 20 years. They are equally “soccer parents” and “vespers parents.” The combination of contemporary reality and traditional devotion makes them the ideal couple to talk about “Raising Children in an Age of Secularism.” Their media experience goes far back. They had already appeared on the network TV show “Canada AM” when they were still engaged, promoting their chastity initiative, “The Challenge Team.”
As always, during the three-day session, plenary talks are followed by shorter presentations on a full array of other topics. Among these will be: “Religious Freedom and Pluralism in Russia and Ukraine: A Necessary Political Vocation” by Ambassador Andrew Bennett; “Discovering Trinity in Disability” by Fr. Myroslaw and Marusia Tataryn; and “Ethical Dimensions of the War in Ukraine” by Fr. Alex Laschuk. Dobrodijka Irene Galadza of Brampton, ON will speak on “Enabling Moral Character in Youth.”

This year, in addition to the Children’s Program, there will be a separate Teen Program. Fr. Galadza notes: “We’ve always tried to be ‘Family-Friendly.’ So while the adults are attending the sessions, their kids can be engaged in enriching activities that build faith.”

The coordinator of the Children’s Program is Malanka Nazarowicz, a third-year student in Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson University. Malanka has been involved with Plast and the Svitlychka Ukrainian nursery school in Toronto. She has also worked with the “Teopoli Summer Experience,” a Roman Catholic faith-based camp. The youth program is for children from Senior Kindergarten to 8th grade.

The new Teen Program – for high school students – will be coordinated by Anne Komanecki. Anne is a Campus Minister at St. Michael’s College. She has worked for the Archdiocese of Toronto and volunteered with the Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre and Ukrainian Canadian Social Services.

After the Study Days weekend, some participants stay on for two or three weeks of accredited courses. Fr. Andriy Chirovsky, as an expert in spirituality, this year has chosen the topic, “Reading the Philokalia and “The Way of the Pilgrim in the Twenty-first Century” an introduction to the main themes of the Eastern Christian lifestyle.

Dr. Brian Butcher, a subdeacon in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, will be teaching a course on the Sacraments in the Byzantine Tradition. Fr. François Beyrouti, a Melkite priest with a PhD in scripture, will be offering an introductory course, “Reading the Bible as an Eastern Christian.”

The classes meet every day for three hours in the case of the two-week courses, and every other day in the case of the three-week course. The credits are fully transferable. Many students from other disciplines take these theology classes to complete their quota of optional courses. The cost for each course is only $763.04 for credit, or $149.61 for audit. To register, visit