Ukrainian Catholics in Manchester

On the 21st November 1946, by decree of The Holy Father Pope Pius XII, Bishop Ivan Buchko was appointed as the Apostolic Visitor to Ukrainian Catholics in Western Europe. It was he who in 1947 laid the foundations of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the British Isles.

We are aware, that the beginnings of a Ukrainian community in Manchester stretch some years before the 1st World War which was as a result of an economic migration of Eastern Europeans westwards. The first permanent settlement here was in working class terraced housing near Victoria Train station and along Cheetham Hill Road within the parish boundary of Saint Chad’s Catholic Church.

They were occasionally visited by Ukrainian clergy; most notably in 1921, by Metropolitan Andreіy Sheptytskyiy – the Primate of the Ukrainian Catholic Church at that time, and then in 1935 by the Reverend Dr. Josyf Slipyiy, who later succeeded Metropolitan Sheptytskyiy and was to become the Patriarch our Church. In July 1932, Bishop Nicholas Charnetskyiy chosen by the Holy See as missionary visitor to Ukrainians throughout Europe, was the guest of the parish priest in St Chad’s and indeed preached to the Ukrainian faithful. In 1937 he again briefly visited the Ukrainian Catholic faithful in Manchester.

It is also important to note that in 1929 the first Ukrainian Social Club in Britain was privately founded a quarter of a mile away from St Chad’s church. Both St Chad’s church and the Ukrainian Social Club were to become fundamental to the development post 2nd World War Ukrainian community in Manchester.

However, towards the end of the 1930s the population of Ukrainians in Manchester numbered only some 50 persons, including children.

After the 2nd World War this number rapidly increased into hundreds then thousands with an influx of Ukrainians from the Continent. These numbers were made up of Ukrainian refugees from Displaced Persons Camps in Germany and Austria, Ukrainians who served in Allied Armies – mainly Polish, Canadian and US, and also most importantly, the British government of the day gave asylum to the Ukrainian division “Halychyna” which was interred in Rimini, Italy, numbering some 10,000 ex-service men. Arriving with these refugees were army chaplains and other priests from Germany and Italy, who became the pioneers of Ukrainian ecclesiastical life in this country.

In February of 1947, Bishop Ivan Buchko – the Apostolic Visitor to Ukrainians in Western Europe, appointed the Reverend Josaphat Jean, a Canadian by birth, as his representative to this country. The Rev. Jean assigned the Reverend Dr. Volodymyr Dzioba to Manchester who arrived here on the 11th September 1947. Together with the Reverend Stepan Kolankivskyiy, a Ukrainian ex-chaplain from the Polish army already in Manchester, they became responsible for the pastoral duties to the growing Ukrainian community here.

The first entries in the Ukrainian parish register date from this period.

The first recorded Baptism is that of Anna Melnyk, daughter of Pavlo and Anastasia who was baptised by Reverend Kolankivskyiy on the 24th August 1947.
The first marriage entry is of Elias Matviyishyn and Paraskeviya Deba officiated by Reverend Dzioba on the 5th November of the same year.
The first funeral entry is that of Paraskeviya Yakubovska aged 71 years, one of the original Ukrainian settlers from the village of Bilyiy Kamin’ in the L’viv district of Western Ukraine. She was buried on the 9th October 1947 by Father Moor from St Chad’s Church.
Indeed, all Ukrainian Catholic services at that time were conducted in St Chad’s Church.

It is interesting to note that 35%* of all Baptisms, 57%* of all Weddings and only 5%* of all funerals recorded in the Ukrainian parish register, occurred prior to 1954. (* These figures are correct as of 19th June 2004)

During these formative years, the fledgling Ukrainian Catholic Church in the British Isles, was frequently subject to administrative and organisational changes. In October 1948, Reverend Yustyn Hirnyak became the pastor and parish priest in Manchester. The following April, as a result of the formation of the “General Vicarage of the Apostolic Visitor” in London, Reverend Dzioba was transferred as pastor to the Ukrainian communities in South Wales and the Reverend Yarema Havryliuk was appointed as his replacement. He in turn was appointed as pastor on the 28th May 1949, upon the resignation of Reverend Hirnyak, who then emigrated to the USA. A year later, further changes occurred, when on the 27th August 1950 the Reverend Emanuyil Korduba, in succession, replaced Reverend Havryliuk. However, the untimely death of Reverend Korduba on 4th January, 1953 precipitated yet another change. The Reverend Antin Babiiy temporarily took the role of pastor and in spring of that year Reverend Volodymyr Dzioba returned to Manchester and was officially appointed as pastor and parish priest.

It was he who was instrumental in the purchase of our Ukrainian Catholic Parish Church on Bury Old Road, which was completed in March 1954.