Church Leaders




The Twentieth Century was a difficulty time for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Through Divine Providence it was guided by some of the greatest leaders in Ukrainian history.


  • Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky led the Church through two world wars. (leader from 1901 to 1944)
  • Josyf Slipiy, Major Archbishop, Patriarch, Cardinal and Metropolitan suffered in the gulag yet survived to lead his Church in exile for two more decades. (leader from 1944 to 1984)
  • Archbishop Volodymyr Sterniuk, locum tenens (acting head) of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine , led the underground Church to freedom. (leader in Ukraine from 1972 to 1991)
  • Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, Major Archbishop and Cardinal , led the Church in exile and returned home in joy to lead the faithful in Ukraine. (leader from 1984 to 2000)
  • Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop and Cardinal , is leading the Church into the 21st century. (leader from 2001 to the present)


Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky (1901-44). During his 44-year tenure, he guided the Church and Ukrainian society through two world wars and seven changes of regime: Austrian, Russian,Ukrainian, Polish, Soviet, Nazi and Soviet. He was born in Prylbychi, near Lviv, on 22 July 1865 to an ancient aristocratic Ukrainian family which in the nineteenth century had become polonized, Latin Catholic and French speaking. Despite the strong opposition of his father, he returned to his roots to serve what was regarded as the peasant Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church as a monk of the Basilian Order.

Blessed with extraordinary spiritual charisms, at the age of thirty-six Sheptytsky became head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. He worked tirelessly for reconciliation between ethnic groups and left a rich legacy of writings on social issues and spirituality. He developed modern methods of ministry, founded the Studite and Ukrainian Redemptorist orders, other religious communities, a hospital, the national Museum, the Theological Academy [link to] and sponsored various religious, cultural and educational institutions.

Sheptytsky was a patron of artists, students, including many Orthodox Christians, and a pioneer of ecumenism. He learned Hebrew so that he could speak with Jews. During pastoral visits to towns he was met by Jewish communities with the Torah. He harbored hundreds of Jews in his residence and in Greek Catholic monasteries during the Nazi occupation. He issued the pastoral letter, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," a bold outcry against Nazi atrocities. He died on 1 November 1944 and the process for his beatification is well advanced.


Josyf Slipiy, Major Archbishop, Patriarch, Cardinal and Metropolitan (1944-84). Born in Zazdrist in western Ukraine on 17 February 1892, he was a churchman of three careers: scholar, confessor of the faith and an international voice for persecuted Christians. After studies in Lviv, Innsbruck (Austria), Rome and Paris, he became a professor and then Rector (1928-44) of the Lviv Seminary and Theological Academy. A prolific writer, his collected works include some twenty volumes. In 1939 he was ordained archbishop by Metropolitan Sheptytsky and succeeded him as head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church upon the latter's death on 1 November 1944.

On 11 April 11 1945 Slipiy was arrested by the Soviet authorities and spent eighteen years in Stalinist prisons, labor camps and Siberian exile, where he earned a reputation for being an iron-willed, intrepid witness to the faith. Through the intervention of Pope John XXIII and President Kennedy he was released in 1963 to attend the Second Vatican Council.

During the following twenty-one years Slipiy energized the life of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the West, establishing the Ukrainian Catholic University and building the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Rome. His death on 7 September 1984 was followed in 1992 by the translation of his remains to Lviv, where they were interred in St. George's Cathedral with the participation of over a million faithful.


Archbishop Volodymyr Sterniuk, locum tenens (acting head) of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine (1972 -91). Born on 12 February 1907 at Pustomyty near Lviv,after studies in Ukraine and Belgium he was ordained in 1931 as a priest of the Redemptorist order. He witnessed the liquidation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church at the "synod" of Lviv by concealing himself in the loft of St. George's Cathedral.

After his arrest in 1947, he spent five years in prison and labor camps in Siberia. He returned to Lviv to work as a park gatekeeper, bookkeeper, janitor and ambulance nurse while clandestinely continuing his priestly ministry.

In 1964 Sterniuk was secretly ordained bishop and from 1972 to 1991 guided the UGCC in Ukraine until the return of Cardinal Lubachivsky. This period included the vicious persecution of the Brezhnev years and the final struggle for liberation in the late 1980s.

As a charismatic pastor and leader of the underground church, Sterniuk guided it from a one-room communal flat with a kitchen and bathroom shared with neighbors. He is remembered for his combination of prudence, resoluteness, warmth and understanding. He died on 29 September 1997 and a great funeral procession was conducted through the center of Lviv.


Myroslav Ivan LubachivskyMyroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, Major Archbishop and Cardinal (1984-2000) Born and raised in western Ukraine, he studied for three years in Lviv at the Greek-Catholic Theological Academy, predecessor of the present-day Lviv Theological Academy[Link to]. Sent abroad to study, he could not return to his homeland for decades, because of the Soviet occupation. He served the Ukrainian diaspora in the United States, was elected Ukrainian Archbishop of Philadelphia in 1979 and in 1984 became Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Following his return to Lviv on 30 March 1991, Lubachivsky led the renewal of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. Throughout a five-year period, as pastor to 7 million faithful, he found himself in a challenging position. The spiritual revitalization of a devastated Church, alleviating tensions with the Orthodox, rebuilding various church institutions, answering the needs of his clergy, building bridges with government officials and adhering to the expectations of lay activists, all posed a formidable task for Lubachivsky on a daily basis.

In 1995 Lubachivsky suffered a bout of pneumonia, which took a toll on his health. The following year, due to his frail condition, the Synod of Ukrainian Catholic Bishops chose Bishop Lubomyr Husar as Auxiliary-Bishop to the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. After Cardinal Lubachivky's death on December 14, 2000 thousands of faithful braved freezing temperatures to pay their last respects.


Lubomyr HusarLubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop and Cardinal. (2001-present) Born in Lviv on 26 February 1933, he emigrated with his family in 1944, ending up in the United States. In 1958 he was ordained to the priesthood there and in 1972 he went to Rome and joined the Studite Order. In 1977 Cardinal Slipiy consecrated him bishop for the Church in Ukraine.

Husar resided at the Studite Monastery in Grottaferrata, Rome until 1992, when he returned to live in Ukraine. On 17 October 1996 he was appointed Auxiliary-Bishop to Cardinal Lubachivsky. After Lubachivski's death, the Synod of Bishops elected him the next Major Archbishop. He was enthroned on January 28, 2001 and on the same day it was announced that Pope John Paul II had named him cardinal.