On September 21, in Washington, DC as part of the visit of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the USA, an award ceremony was held to honor individuals for “significant personal contribution to strengthening interstate cooperation, support of state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and popularization of the Ukrainian state in the world.” The Metropolitan of Philadelphia, Borys Gudziak, received the award of the President of Ukraine – the Cross of Ivan Mazepa.
During the award ceremony, which took place in the US National Archives, the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, noted “I have the honor of knowing Archbishop Borys Gudziak personally. He is known to thousands of Ukrainians – soldiers, displaced persons, and many others whom he helps, and young people who thanks to him get a great education”.
Ukraine is defending values – such as a right to life and personality, said Olena Zelenska. “These are not only physical things but also intangible values. The defenders of Ukraine are very different people – of different views, beliefs, or not religious at all. But they all clearly feel they are fighting against evil, against the worst that might be born within a human – a conscious effort to kill, destroy, grab, and enslave. Therefore, it is also a spiritual battle. Sincere gratitude to everyone who fights together with us in the spiritual dimension and dimension of values.”
Archbishop Gudziak said: “President Zelensky’s recognition honors the work of the Church in the United States and the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv and their shared commitment to peace, justice, and security. He recognizes the solicitude for and support of forcibly displaced persons and those deeply traumatized by the Russian aggression. With the help of countless Catholics and other people of goodwill in the United States, our Metropolia Humanitarian Aid Fund has supported close to 100 different projects throughout Ukraine and other countries.
“Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) has been a hub of volunteer activity of a diverse nature: housing and feeding IDPs, supporting hospitals, organizing therapy programs, and logistics for international journalists. UCU partners with First Lady Olena Zelenska in addressing psychological trauma and mental illness. UCU psychiatrists and psychologists are leading participants in the all-Ukrainian mental health program ‘How are you?’ initiated by Olena Zelenska.
“Together, with so many selfless people, during a genocidal war, we try to pray, inform, advocate, and help, here in the United States, in Ukraine, and internationally.
“Who truly deserves recognition? Civil society in Ukraine, the over 50,000 who have given their lives for the defense of human dignity, freedom, and justice. Close to 200,000 have been maimed or injured. They have made a heroic even ultimate sacrifice. Their contribution is beyond recognition here on Earth. Only God can fathom the depths of their merit,” said the archbishop.
The Cross of Ivan Mazepa is an award of the President of Ukraine, established to honor citizens for a significant contribution to the revival of the national cultural-artistic, spiritual, architectural, military-historical heritage, merits in state-building, diplomatic, humanistic, scientific, educational, and charitable activities.