It was a proud and blessed morning at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church on Syracuse’s Tipperary Hill Dec. 30 as Bishop Borys Gudziak returned to his home parish to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. It was the first time Bishop Gudziak had celebrated Mass in the church since Pope Benedict XVI named him bishop and apostolic exarch for Byzantine-rite Ukrainians in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland in July 2012.
Bishop Gudziak was born in Syracuse in 1960, the son of immigrants from Ukraine. A graduate of Christian Brothers Academy, Bishop Gudziak went on to earn degrees from Syracuse University, the Pontifical Urbanian University and Harvard University. He founded the Institute of Church History in Ukraine before being ordained a priest in 1998. Most recently, Bishop Gudziak served as the rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine.
The Divine Liturgy was celebrated in both Ukrainian and English and was enhanced by the church’s choir. In his homily, Bishop Gudziak reflected on the joy of his homecoming while recalling that the Christmas season celebrates the Lord, who was born in a manger and had no home.
Parishioner Patricia Burak said she was particularly moved by Bishop Gudziak’s celebration, as was the whole parish. “We are so happy and feel so blessed to have him as part of our hromada (community),” she said. “We are all in awe of his powerful spirituality.”