Fr. Bayda to be bishop of Saskatoon Ukrainian Catholics

By 
  • May 9, 2008

OTTAWA - When Fr. Bryan Bayda got the phone call from the apostolic nuncio (papal ambassador to Canada) telling him that Pope Benedict XVI had appointed him bishop of the Saskatoon Ukrainian Catholic eparchy, he experienced shock and disbelief.

“It was pretty hard to understanding why God chose me through His Holiness Benedict XVI,” he said in a May 2 telephone interview from Yorkton, Sask., where he pastors Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a parish in the Saskatoon eparchy.

Bayda, 46, tried asking the nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, for more time to think about the appointment.

“The nuncio reminded me much thought and preparation had been put into it,” he said. The Vatican’s ambassador also spoke to him of “God’s will for me and the church.”

“If that’s God’s will for me, then so be it,” Bishop-elect Bayda said. “Hopefully, I can be of some service.”

The Pope has also accepted the resignation of Eparchial Bishop Michael Wiwchar, who has shepherded the Saskatoon eparchy since 2001. Wiwchar had formally requested retirement when he passed his 75th birthday last May.

Bayda worked closely with Wiwchar in the development of the 2005 Sobor document, the result of a three-year consultative process that covered 12 main areas of growth for the eparchy that included family, youth, the role of women, social mission, prayer and worship.

He assisted in the writing of the Sobor, that Bayda said the whole eparchy played in a role in producing. The consultative document was drafted by the faithful, clergy, religious and the bishop, he said.

The Sobor will provide a blueprint for his new mission. “I do hope to really follow my call,” he said.

“It’s intended to help us to focus and set goals for ourselves as to what God wants us to try and accomplish and how He wants us to grow,” he said. “What I think is excellent about it: it’s rooted in Scripture; and it’s a blend of our canon law, our traditions, our rite.”

The document also tackles current topics relevant to the faithful today, he said.

“I think it’s an invitation from God on how we can best implement some of the ideals that are laid out there,” he said.

Bayda sees the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s mission as one that can include those who are not of Ukrainian ancestry. “I think every Christian is meant to bring Christ to whomever they meet and Christianity knows no borders in that sense.”

“To the extent that our worship and our personal witness, particularly in the context of family, can bring others closer to Christ, then I think that’s a good thing.”

Though Bayda said he wished for more wisdom and strength, he trusts that if he calls upon God, “there is a reassurance where things are lacking the Holy Spirit will provide.”

“I do count on the Holy Spirit working through the faithful and their co-operation and support as we pursue these goals,” he said.

“I trust in God and His love for us, His abundant mercy,” he said.  He also noted the Mother of Perpetual Help is “always interceding for us as well.”

Born in Saskatoon in 1961, Bayda joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorist) in 1986.

Upon completing high school at St. Vladimir’s College Minor Seminary in Roblin, Man., he pursued studies at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy in 1982 and a Master of Divinity in 1987. Further studies included a Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba in 1990 and a Diploma in Eastern Christian theology from the Sheptytsky Institute in Ottawa in 1997.

He was ordained a priest in 1987. He has served as a teacher and director of St. Vladimir’s College and as formation director for his community’s major seminary. Before his most recent assignment at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, he served as a parish priest in several parishes in Western Canada.

The Saskatoon eparchy includes 21 diocesan priests, three permanent deacons and more than 20 religious men and women. They serve 18,000 Catholics in 87 parishes and missions.

The date for his episcopal ordination has not been set.

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