Metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholics in Canada Dies

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (CNS) — Archbishop Michael Bzdel, who served as metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholics in Canada for nearly 13 years, died April 3 at his home in Winnipeg. He was 81.

He became metropolitan after his ordination as archbishop March 9, 1993. He served in the position until his retirement in January 2006.

Born to Ukrainian immigrants in Wishart, Saskatchewan, July 21, 1930, Archbishop Bzdel was the 11 of 14 children in his family.

He discerned a call to the priesthood as a student at the Redemptorist-run St. Vladimir College in Roblin, Manitoba. Following his ordination in 1954, he was assigned to ministry in various parishes across western Canada.

In 1984, he was elected provincial superior of the Yorkton (Saskatchewan) Province of the Redemptorist order, a position he held until 1992, when he was named archbishop and head of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg. With the appointment, he became metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada.

As metropolitan, Archbishop Bzdel was one of the four ex-officio members of the Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He also served on several CCCB commissions and committees, including the former Ad Hoc Committee for Aid to the Church in Eastern and Central Europe and the Balkans. In 1997, Pope John Paul II named him a delegate to the Synod of Bishops for America.

He also was a member of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church during its period of restructuring in Ukraine.

In retirement, Archbishop Bzdel continued in pastoral ministry, working especially with the elderly residents of Holy Family Home in Winnipeg.

Funeral services were scheduled to begin April 11 at Sts. Vladimir and Olga Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Winnipeg with hierarchical parastas (memorial). Services were to continue April 12 at St. Joseph Ukrainian Catholic Church in Winnipeg with Divine Liturgy and concluding rites.

Survivors include four sisters and numerous nieces and nephews.

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