Ukrainian Seminaries Full, Turning Away Candidates

Blessed Omelian Kovch Inspires Priestly Vocations

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SAMBIR, Ukraine, FEB. 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Ukrainian seminaries are having to turn away up to half of the young men seeking to become priests due to a lack of space.

Coadjutor Bishop Jaroslav Pryriz of the Eparchy of Sambir-Drohobych reported to Aid to the Church in Need that in some places, there are three candidates vying for every place in the seminary.

He stated that many young men are attracted to the priesthood because of the examples they see of living a challenging vocation.

"When they see good priests, and when they see the Church living out the social gospel, it inspires them," the prelate affirmed.

He added, "Many young men see the positives and negatives -- the positive of how the Church serves people and the negative of how hard life is in the streets and the villages."

The bishop recalled the example of Blessed Omelian Kovch, a Ukrainian diocesan priest who helped the Jewish people during the Nazi occupation and was killed in a Majdanek concentration camp on the outskirts of Lublin, in Poland in 1944.

Bishop Pryriz said: "His family tried to free him from prison but he wrote to his family telling them not to worry. He stayed with the Jewish people and died with them."

Service and suffering

"The Catholic Church gives a great example of service and suffering," the prelate affirmed. "We need to show people a very great example."

He thanked the aid agency for its support, noting that it "enabled our Church to regain a normal presence in the public life of our country" after the fall of communism.

The bishop sent a message to the agency's donors: "You responded to the needs of our Church and God's faithful people, and we, in turn, promise to do all in our power to further the hope we have in common.

"May God reward you a hundredfold for your generosity of heart, and we assure you, our dear friends, that we will remember you in our prayers."

The agency is offering particular support to the diocese's 86 seminarians and 287 priests.

Bishop Pryriz said, "We are extremely grateful that there are people such as you who understand the important role a priestly vocation can play in today's world and that you put this insight into practice by offering material support for the formation of our vocations."

"Together with you," he added, "we are building the temple of human souls, whose grandeur depends solely on the sincerity of efforts each one of us is making according to personal ability."