Ukrainian Catholic University opened an office in Poland, the Ukrainian Catholic University Foundation in Wrocław. The ceremonial inauguration was held on 4 February. The foundation’s mission is to serve Ukrainians in Poland and also support the development of cooperation between the two countries, in particular in the academic field.
UCU President and Metropolitan of the UGCC Philadelphia Archeparchy in the USA Archbishop Borys Gudziak says that the idea to create the first center in Poland arose because of the great number of Ukrainians who were forced to seek refuge because of the war: “Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine caused a great immigration. The challenges which Europe has faced during the war in Ukraine showed our university the necessity of opening a center on the European continent. We discussed various possibilities. Munich, for example, was one of the places proposed. But Wrocław turns out to be the best place. We are grateful that the city and academic community has been so open.”
At the inauguration ceremony, Archbishop Borys Gudziak addressed Ukrainians now staying in Poland: “Today we are opening in Wrocław the Center of Ukrainian Catholic University. May it help you and you help it. I hope that you will be together, that the solidarity which we have today and which will be necessary after victory will remain with all of us. The future is yours! God’s truth will prevail.”
Roksolyana Voronovska will head the newly-created UCU Foundation in Wrocław: “Our goal,” she said, “is to create an open community in Poland, where it will be possible to visit, speak on various themes, and invite experts, intellectuals, writers, and historians to discuss the challenges that stand before Ukraine and each Ukrainian, wherever he or she is.”
Part of the foundation’s activities in the academic area is a joint research project between the Archive of the Shevchenko Scientific Society (Ukraine) and Poland’s Ossoliński National Institute.
In addition, on 4 February Ukrainian Catholic University and the Wrocław Polytechnic signed a memorandum to establish cooperation.
UCU Rector Fr. Bohdan Prach says that Ukrainian Catholic University strives to be where Ukrainians are, where they need spiritual and intellectual support: “Our foundation has many tasks and much work to do. In particular, this involves: cultural rapprochement among the peoples of Poland, Ukraine, and other countries of Europe; the development of education and learning; support of business; defense of freedoms and human rights; support of democracy and civil society; and the development of Catholic social teaching and Christian morals. We are also called to help those Ukrainians who have lost their homes and relatives, lost everything because of this war and to involve them in new communities.”
Rafał Dutkiewicz, one of the founders of the foundation and former mayor of Wrocław, stated that the UCU Foundation in Wrocław will be a unique kind of cultural institute with an academic direction: “It is exceptionally symbolic that in wartime a branch of Ukrainian Catholic University is appearing in Wrocław. My acquaintance with this university started after a phone call with Krzysztof Zanussi. He was an UCU senator, and I eventually joined the senate. Here at UCU I encountered one of the best academic communities in my life.”
The first cultural project of the UCU Foundation in Poland was a showing of the film “Shchedryk” at the New Horizons Movie Theater in Wrocław. The film was a Ukrainian-Polish co-production, in the Ukrainian language with Polish subtitles. It’s a story of three families – Ukrainian, Polish, and Jewish – about their lives in one building in Stanyslaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk) from 1938 to 1944. All the profits from ticket sales will go to support Ukraine.
Bishop Włodzimierz Juszczak, ordinary of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Eparchy in Poland of Wrocław-Koszalin, says that the UCU Foundation is important for building Polish-Ukrainian relations: “Before the war, more than 90 thousand Ukrainians lived in Wrocław. Now there are two or three times that amount. All these people want to live in contact with Ukraine’s church. These are refugees from eastern and also western Ukraine. The UCU Foundation now faces the challenge of reaching out to those people who are ready to work together, to propose to them possibilities for cooperation in the academic, civil, and social fields. The presence of the Ukrainian people in Poland, people who came here to work and live in a peaceful city, is important. But it’s also important that Ukrainians be a driving force not only among themselves but for Polish-Ukrainian relations.
Ukrainian Catholic University is one of Ukraine’s leading universities. It is the heir of and continues the academic activities of the Greek-Catholic Theological Academy, created in 1928-1929 in Lviv by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky and led by its first rector, then-Fr. Josyf Slipyj.
The university receives no financing from the government and exists exclusively through the donations of benefactors and tuition paid by students. This academic year, thanks to the support of benefactors, 45% of students were able to receive various forms of scholarships and tuition reductions.
For a number of years in a row, Ukrainian Catholic University has led the ratings of colleges for entrants’ standardized test scores. 55.5% of entering first-year students were in the top 5% of high school graduates according to three standardized exams.
Senators emeritus of UCU include: the former mayor of Wrocław, Dr. Rafał Dutkiewicz; Prof. Jerzy Axer of the University of Warsaw; Polish movie writer and director Krzysztof Zanussi; and Ambassador of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland to Ukraine Robert Brinkley (2002-2006). Jan Tombiński, Ambassador of the European Union to Ukraine (2012-2016) and to the Holy See (2016-2020), is a current UCU senator.
Among invited lecturers and speakers at the university were: noted philosopher Francis Fukuyama; business consultant Adrian Slywotzky; British journalist Peter Pomarantsev; historian Timothy Snyder; Sean Patrick Lovett, former head of the English-language service of Radio Vatican; and many others.
UCU offers 11 bachelor’s- and 15 master’s-degree programs. Every year approximately 1900 students study at UCU. The university has more than 150 academic partners throughout the world. UCU was also named as one of the 30 best projects created since the time of independence which supports the country’s development.
Since the start of the war, the university has not stopped the educational process. On the contrary, education has become more socially oriented, in order to respond to the needs of the times. Many students, staff, and UCU graduates are defending Ukraine on the front. According to the latest data from September 2022, serving in Ukraine’s Armed Forces are 18 students, 12 professors and staff, and more than 59 graduates. Unfortunately, 15 heroes from the UCU community have perished in the fight with the Russian occupiers.
Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainian Catholic University has organized the work of the Volunteer Center, which has already collected more than 6 million dollars to help Ukrainian soldiers and people fleeing from the war or living in zones of military actions.
Expanding its activities to other cities and countries, UCU continues the tradition of its founder, Patriarch Josyf Slipyj, who worked to found academic and educational centers in all corners of the world where there were Ukrainian communities. Currently branches of UCU are operating in Great Britain (the Ukrainian Institute in London), the USA, and Canada (Ukrainian Catholic University Foundation). In December 2016, the Kyiv Center of Ukrainian Catholic University was created in Ukraine’s capital.