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Ukrainian Bishop, American Church

Constantine Bohachevsky and the Ukrainian Catholic Church

Constantine Bohachevsky was not a typical bishop. On the eve of his unexpected nomination as bishop to the Ukrainian Catholics in America, in March 1924, the Vatican secretly whisked him from Warsaw to Rome to be ordained. He arrived in America that August to a bankrupt church and a hostile clergy. He stood his ground, and chose to live а simple missionary life. He eschewed public pomp, as did his immigrant congregations. He regularly visited his scattered churches. He fought a bitter fight for the independence of the church from outside interference – a kind of struggle between the Church and the state, absent both. He refashioned a failing immigrant church in America into a self-sustaining institution that half a century after his death could help resurrect the underground Catholic Church in Ukraine, which became the largest Eastern Catholic church today.

This trailblazing biography, based on recently opened sources from the Vatican, Ukraine and the United States, brings the reader from the placid life of the married Catholic Ukrainian clergy in the Habsburg Empire to industrial America.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church, formalized in 1595, melds Eastern religious practices with Western hierarchic structure, thus healing the 1054 Christian divide. While there is doctrinal unity, Eastern Catholic practice differs so markedly from that of the Latin Rite that Ukrainian immigrants in the US created their own churches. The death of the first bishop in 1916 and the long hiatus in naming a replacement led to widespread unrest. Yet, under Bohachevsky's forceful leadership, within a decade, the church developed a network of parishes, schools, colleges, and eventually a seminary, cultivating its clergy and its understanding of Eastern Catholicism. In 1958, the Pope erected the Ukrainian Catholic Archbishopric of Philadelphia and appointed Bohachevsky its Metropolitan/Archbishop.

About the Author

Martha Bochachevsky-Chomiak is emeritus professor of history at Manhattanville College, has taught at the Johns Hopkins University, Seton Hall University, and Harvard University, and was the head of the Fulbright program for Ukraine. Additionally she is the author of a wide range of scholarly and academic publications, including Feminists Despite Themselves: Women in Ukrainian Community Life, 1884-1939 and Sergei N. Trubetskoi: An intellectual among the intelligentsia in prerevolutionary Russia.


"This excellent study presents a broad panorama of religious, political, and cultural history of Ukrainians in Europe and North America in the twentieth century. Following the steps of her protagonist, the author brings her reader to Lviv and Innsbruck, Peremyshl and Rome, Philadelphia and Chicago, skillfully exploring diverse religious contexts in a lucid and engaging narrative. A fruit of many years of first-hand archival research, this book makes an important contribution not only to Ukrainian and American ecclesiastical history but also to the study of vital and often vexing issues of ecumenical relations and intercultural communication between Christians of East and West."—Yury P. Avvakumov, University of Notre Dame

"This compelling story of a nascent immigrant church in America conveys the complexities of life for an immigrant bishop dealing with difficult pastoral issues—issues that became even more complex once the Soviet Union arrested and imprisoned all the bishops of Ukraine. That event propelled Bohachevsky to international significance as a bastion of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the free world. This significant book broadens our understanding of the history of the Roman Catholic church in the United States, and the Eastern rites within that church, during the twentieth century."—Mark M. Morozowich, The Catholic University of America

"Ukrainian Bishop, American Church presents the remarkable life of Constantine Bohachevsky, the first archbishop/metropolitan of the Ukrainian-American Catholic Church. As a young Catholic priest in the Austrian province of Galicia, he experienced the political, social, and ethnic turmoil that followed World War I. In 1924 he was unexpectedly appointed by the pope to become a bishop for Ukrainian Catholics in the United States. With little English or knowledge of life in America, Bohachevsky moved to Philadelphia where he began to consolidate the church and overcome its many ethnic and confessional conflicts. Over the next thirty-seven years he worked tirelessly to build Ukrainian Catholic churches and schools. Using archival materials and personal papers, the historian Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Constantine's niece, has produced a fascinating biography."—Roman Szporluk, Harvard University

"The biography of Bishop Constantin Bohachevsky, told with great empathy, is skillfully woven into the larger history of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, across three political regimes and two continents, with the Vatican in between. The story is larger than life because it recounts the institutionalization of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States as part of the process of formation of a global Ukrainian Catholic Church within global Catholicism."—Jose Casanova, Georgetown University

"Constantine Bohachevsky was bishop, later metropolitan, of the Ukrainian Catholic church in America from the mid-1920s until the early 1960s. He was an institution-builder whose hard work produced admirable and enduring achievements. He was a modest, self-effacing man, yet he was assailed from many sides. He stood firm and true to his institutional vision thanks to a steadfast faith in the beneficence of God's will. His tale is told here by a professional historian at the height of her powers, who also just happens to be the niece of the great churchman. Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak has written a model work of transnational, Ukrainian and American, history that illuminates issues too often neglected in both Ukrainian studies and the scholarship on American Catholicism. Extensive research, genuine readability, important messages — it's all in this book."—John-Paul Himka, University of Alberta

"Ukrainian Bishop, American Church is a successful example of a biography presented against the background of the history of the community which the subject represented and served. Dr. Bohachevsky-Chomiak masterfully demonstrates the goals and aspirations that animated the activity of the bishop and his community: they desired to preserve the Ukrainian national-cultural and especially their religious-ecclesiastical heritage. The fruit of meticulous research and evaluation of a great amount of source material, including archives, results in a profound and comprehensive analysis of the life of Metropolitan Bohachevsky. The light, transparent style not only successfully veils many years of complex labor, but makes the book more attractive to a broad reading public."—Liliana Hentosh, Lviv National University, Ukraine

"Like much of the history of the largest Eastern Catholic rite, this is an unknown yet riveting chapter, in which both the Vatican and the Ukrainian Church discover how a national church becomes international. Bohachevsky has tamed her polyglot sources into a beautifully written narrative: clear prose graced with understatement and spiced with occasional irony."—Jeffrey Wills, Ukrainian Catholic University

"An exemplary work of scholarship on the life and legacy of Bishop Constantine BohachevskyDeserves to be in every seminary and library of Catholic Church history and cannot be overlooked by anyone interested in Ukrainian-American church history."—Catholic Historical Review

"A window into a period of transition for Ukrainian Catholics from being Eastern European immigrants to being ethnic Americans, recounted through the experience of one well-positioned individual...Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak's account of her uncle's contribution to the establishment of the Greek Catholic Church in the United States is a broad ranging text."—Journal of Ecclesiastical History

9780813231594 : ukrainian-bishop-american-church-bohachevsky-chomiak
544 Pages
$75.00 USD
9780813236360 : ukrainian-bishop-american-church-bohachevsky-chomiak
Paperback / softback
544 Pages
$34.95 USD

Other Titles by Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak

Ukrainian Studies in Canada: Texts and Contexts

edited by Volodymyr Kravchenko, with contributions byDominique Arel, Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Rory Finnin, Andrew Hladyshevsky, Nadia Jacyk, Natalia Khanenko-Friesen, Zenon Kohut, Bohdan Kordan, Taras Koznarsky, Olga Kuplowska, Lubom...
May 2018 - University of Alberta Press
$29.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Feminists Despite Themselves

Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak
Oct 1988 - University of Alberta Press
$49.95 USD - Hardback

Other Titles in HISTORY / United States / 20th Century

The Foxes of Belair

Jennifer S. Kelly
May 2023 - University Press of Kentucky
$32.95 USD - Hardback

The Perils of Race-Thinking

Mark A. Brandon
Apr 2023 - Central European University Press
$65.00 USD - Hardback

Half-Life of a Secret

Emily Strasser
Apr 2023 - University Press of Kentucky
$26.95 USD - Hardback