THE head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church is coming to Bolton for the first time on Sunday.
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shewchuk’s visit will be the first from a leader of the church since his predecessor Lubomyr Husar came to the town in 1970.
He will conduct a service at All Saints Ukranian Catholic Church, before moving on to the Ukranian Cultural Centre in Castle Street.
Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn, chairman of the Association of Ukranians in Great Britain’s Bolton branch, said the visit was hugely significant.
He said: “He is like the prime minister of the Ukranian Catholic Church and we recognise him as a patriarch. As chairman it is my great honour because only one of my predecessors has ever welcomed him before and he is sadly no longer with us. I will be one of two people to have done this.”
The Archbishop will conduct a special blessing service at All Saints Ukranian Catholic Church, including the laying on of hands, at 3.30pm.
Mr Tymchshyn said: “It’s a very important part of our tradition and something that lives with you for the rest of your life.”
Archbishop Shewchuk will be welcomed with bread and salt by Mr Tymchshyn, which is the traditional Ukranian greeting to dignitaries.
Joining him in extending the welcome will be representatives from each generation; 94-year-old, Hryhory Boubasz, Oksana Jurczyszyn aged 67, Roman Zupnik, aged eight and Danilo Amis, aged five.
Mr Tymchyshyn added: “It means a lot as there are so few left of the generation which came over in the late 1940s. There are only four gentlemen of that first generation, we’re almost down to the last man standing, and for them it’s going to mean so much.”
After giving his service at All Saints Church Archbishop Shewchuk will visit the Ukranian Cultural Centre, at about 5pm, where there will be refreshments and speeches.
The Archbishop will bless the food and meet as many people as possible.
He will also meet The Ukrainian Bishop of the UK and Ireland, Bishop Lonchyna Hleb and Bishop John Arnold of Salford.
Other dignitaries attending both events include the Mayor and Mayoress of Bolton, and Sir David Crausby.