Philadelphia, Pa., Apr 16, 2018 / 09:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Monday accepted the resignation for medical reasons of Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Bishop Andriy Rabiy, an auxiliary bishop of the archeparchy, was appointed apostolic administrator.
In an April 16 statement, Archbishop Soroka, 66, said his resignation was accepted “for medical reasons” and expressed his gratitude for “the many challenges and blessings” of the past 17 years as archbishop.
“Success in responding to the varying needs of the Archeparchy and its parishes was achieved with the positive and hopeful participation of clergy, religious and laity enabled by the Grace of God,” he said.
He noted that some highlights from his years of leadership were parish liturgical celebrations, visits, pilgrimages, and festivals. He also said that he “was inspired by the dedication of the clergy, religious and faithful and their love for their Church.”
“The Risen Christ greeted his apostles with the words, ‘Peace be with you!’ May the peace offered by the Risen Christ characterize our continued love and service of our Ukrainian Catholic Church.”
“Let us remember one another in prayer as we seek the intercession of the Mother of God in this time of transition being experienced within the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia and in our Ukrainian Catholic Church in the USA.”
Soroka was born Nov. 13, 1951 in Winnipeg, Canada. His father was from Ukraine and his mother was from Poland. They married in the Catholic Church in Austria in 1945 and immigrated to Canada six years later.
Soroka and his twin brother, Joseph, were both raised in the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg before starting seminary formation at St. Josephat Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Washington, D.C.
He later also received a doctorate in social work in May 1985 from the Catholic University of America in D.C.
Soroka was ordained a priest for the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Winnipeg on June 13, 1982, and in 1996 he was consecrated an auxiliary bishop for the same archeparchy.
In November 2000, he was appointed Archbishop of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
Before becoming archbishop, he served as the vocations director of the Winnipeg archeparchy for 15 years. He was a social worker and corrections officer before entering the seminary.
Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Andriy Rabiy to operate as apostolic administrator until an archbishop is appointed to fill the now-vacant seat of the archbishop.
Rabiy has served as an auxiliary bishop for the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia alongside fellow auxiliary Bishop John Bura since August 2017.
Born in Lviv, Ukraine in 1975, he entered the Ivano-Frankivsk Seminary in 1992, and in August 1994 moved to the United States to continue his studies at St. Josephat Ukrainian Catholic Seminary.
He also attended classes at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and in 1999 received a bachelor’s degree from the university. He continued his studies at the Dominican House of Studies, graduating with a Master of Divinity in May 2002.
On Dec. 19, 2001, Rabiy was ordained a priest of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia. He also received a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America in 2008, completing a dissertation on the patriarchal tribunal in the Eastern Church.
Before being appointed auxiliary bishop, Rabiy was protosyncellus of the archeparchy (equivalent to a vicar general in the Latin rite).