Project manager at the Centre for Cultural Management, Lviv, Ukraine
“For me the Ukrainian Catholic University was the ideal place to test myself out: all the conditions are here to discover your talents and realize your possibilities. It’s a very unique laboratory in which to ‘know thyself.’ But, above all, the university is people who accept you, who are close by and don’t walk away in difficult times. There is a certainty that remains for the future that you can be yourself everywhere.”
A 1999 graduate, Zaviyskyy now teaches at UCU and in July 2011 became the first Ukrainian citizen to defend a doctorate in theology at Oxford University.
The advisor for Zaviyskyy’s dissertation was Prof. George Pattison of Oxford and the independent reader was the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. The defense of the dissertation was held in Lambeth Palace, the official London residence of the head of the Church of England.
Zaviyskyy was born and grew up in Lviv, where he earned an engineering degree. After graduating from the Lviv Theological Academy (now UCU) in 1999, Zaviyskyy earned a master’s degree and licentiate at the Catholic University of Leuven (formerly known as Louvain) in Belgium. He then taught theology at UCU and in 2005 started doctoral studies at Oxford. He also taught at UCU’s branch in London.
Father Stepan Sus is the director of the Center for Military Chaplaincy of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Lviv, Ukraine. He has also helped establish chaplaincy programs for children living in orphanages and other state-run institutions and for students at state-run colleges and universities.
Father Sus recalls a touching instance in his ministry:
“Once the commander sent two cadets to clean the floor in the military chapel. This was when we were repairing the church and there was a lot to clean up. These two guys did not really want to go to church, let alone to clean up, because they were not religious. But they had to listen to their commander, and so they came.
“I remember that they didn’t help us very much that first day. But they asked a lot of questions, like ‘Why go to church?’ and ‘What is prayer?’ They really like working in the church and they asked their commander if they could be assigned to clean up in the chapel as long as the repair work continued.
“After a month or so their attitude toward the church changed quite a bit. Later they even went to confession and received Communion. I spoke with one of them, who said some very fine words to me:
‘I am,’ he said, ‘grateful to my commander, because once he made me take two steps and clean up the chapel. A lot of the guys laughed at me, because they knew that I never went to church, even though I had a reputation as a ‘good’ cadet. But those two steps changed my live entirely, and now I know how to pray and I can help others find their way to the church.’
Father Sus has evangelized many young men, including some baptisms. He graduated from the Ukrainian Catholic University and Holy Spirit Seminary in 2006.
Graduate who returned to teach at UCU
“Small universities are better because the students get more attention. Now as a teacher, I understand that this is also a benefit for the teacher.
“If you study at UCU, in five years you’ll become a professional in the area you choose. You’ll only be able to appreciate all the benefits of the university a few years after you finish.
“But when you’re working, you’ll understand and appreciate the choice you made as you work with your colleagues.”
Vasil Stefaniv was one of the first history students to graduate from the Ukrainian Catholic University, in 2007. He then went for a graduate degree at Lviv Polytechnic. He is now working on his dissertation and also teaching at UCU.
“Because of my situation, I wasn’t able to pay for tuition, but I was a good student, so I received a scholarship. I also worked in the library. Many of my peers worked in various areas of the university, for example, at the summer school. Finances were not a problem.
“I was able to study foreign languages very well at UCU. In our first year, we had English classes every day. It was difficult, but in a year we were already able to communicate fluently and read in English. We also had a Polish course. A fairly good grounding in Latin and Greek is important for those who want to be professionals in history, and also for theologians,” said Stefaniv.
Matskiv graduated from UCU’s Faculty of Philosophy and Theology in 2003.
“I recall my fellow students and teachers, and the particular atmosphere that reigned at UCU, with great love and warmth. Because it’s difficult to call the Ukrainian Catholic University simply ‘an educational institution.’ The usual student’s formula “I sat at my desk, took a test, and then forgot everything” did not work there. Why? In my opinion, because at UCU the educational process cannot be separated from the process of forming the personality, making one’s faith solid, and deepening one’s spiritual life.”
“UCU provided the basics, the fundamentals for graduate studies. In particular, it gave us the tools, like languages, Latin, Greek, English. We were very well-prepared when we came to Rome…
“When I studied at the Augustinianum, we three UCU graduates were the only women… Today in Rome few are surprised to see female faces at theological faculties (by the way, among them are many Ukrainian women from UCU).”