Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop Emeritus of Kyiv-Halych and former head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, died May 31 at the age of 84.
Among his many accomplishments as priest, bishop, and cardinal, he is well remembered for welcoming St. John Paul II on his visit to Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine in 2001, when he was the first Pope to visit the former Soviet republic.
Cardinal Husar was born in 1933 in Lviv. He fled from the Soviets in Ukraine with his parents in 1944, first to Austria, and then to the United States in 1949. He studied at St. Basil’s College Seminary in Stamford, Conn. in the early 1950s, and continued his studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington and at Fordham University in New York.
He was ordained a priest of the Ukrainian Eparchy of Stamford in March 1958 and taught at St. Basil’s College Seminary until 1969. From 1966 to 1969 he was the pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Kerhonkson, N.Y.
He was secretly consecrated a bishop in 1977, and celebrated the 40th anniversary of his episcopal ordination in April of this year. His consecration was unacknowledged publicly until 1996 due to Blessed Paul VI’s Ostpolitik efforts at reaching out to the Russian Orthodox Church and the Eastern Bloc.
Bishop Husar returned to Ukraine in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and served as spiritual director of Holy Spirit Seminary in Lviv.
The Ukrainian Catholic synod of bishops elected him major archbishop – father and head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church – in 2000, and St. John Paul II made him a cardinal the following month. He resigned his position as in February 2011 at the age of 77.
Pope Francis sent a letter to Cardinal Husar’s successor, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk ofKyiv-Halych, calling the late cardinal “one of the highest and most respected moral authorities of recent decades for the Ukrainian people,” and praising him for his love and warmth, especially the young.
He called Cardinal Husar a father and spiritual guide for his Church, “which he gathered from the ‘catacombs’ where she was forced to flee persecution, and to whom he restored not only the ecclesiastical structures, but above all the joy of her history, founded on faith through and beyond any suffering.”
The Pope expressed his desire to “be among those praying to the heavenly Father” for Cardinal Husar’s soul.
The Divine Liturgy for the cardinal’s burial was held June 5 at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection.
Cardinal Husar is greatly admired in Ukraine, where signs have already appeared calling for his speedy canonization.