Ukrainians enjoy the festive season

Ukrainian Catholic Christmas Eucharist, Canberra, 7 January 2017


Canberra’s Ukrainian Catholic community, who follow the Julian calendar, celebrated Christmas on January 6 and 7.

Adhering to the Byzantine Rite according to the Church’s Eastern tradition, the community began the festive celebration with Mass, carols and a sit down dinner at St Volodymr’s Church, Lyneham, on Christmas Eve (January 6).

The next day, the community gathered for Mass at St Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Queanbeyan East as well as at St Volodymr’s.

Canberra’s Ukrainian Catholic chaplain Fr Wally Kalinecki said the community “enjoyed a wonderful festive season and are looking forward to a positive new year”.

“We pray that 2017 is a good year for us all, full of hope and joy in Christ.”

There are many differences in the form of worship and practice from the Latin Rite of the Church.

“We stand more in the Byzantine Rite Mass,” Fr Kalinecki said.

“It is based on singing and praising God.

“Our sanctuary and altar are different to the Latin Rite in that they are more hidden like in Old Testament times with an icon screen called the Iconostasis.

“Also you will notice the walls of most Eastern churches are laden with iconography and ours here in Canberra are no different.”

Another key difference in the Byzantine Rite is at the Eucharist, where pieces of bread are cut into little cuboids and soaked in wine, in effect becoming the Body and Blood at the consecration.

The Second Vatican Council document Ut Unum Sint (n.54), reminds everyone that the Church breathes with her two lungs – the East and the West.

In 2011, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s general intention for the month of November was “that the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be known and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church.”

In 2016 the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference produced a document called Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia to assist priests and deacons of the Latin Catholic Church in their parish pastoral ministry.

To obtain a copy visit