Five Minutes with the Former Archbishop of Donetsk

Yuriy Yuriyovych Yurchyk

By Richard J. Mammana Jr.

Ukrainian clergyman Yuriy Yuriyovych Yurchyk (Юрчик Юрій Юрійович, born 1970) has served in Orthodox, Eastern Rite Catholic, and Latin Rite Roman Catholic churches since his ordination to the priesthood in 1991. He was appointed Bishop of Donetsk and Mariupol in 1999 within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate), with responsibility for the Diocese of Luhansk, near the Russian border. He was elevated to the rank of archbishop in 2008, and has been a priest of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church since 2009.

Since the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian War in 2014 and its intensification in 2022, he has maintained extensive contacts with Western Christians through social media, including photographs of daily life in Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine.

TLC reached him as fighting worsened in the days after a bombing on the only bridge between Crimea and the Ukrainian mainland.

What is your daily life like during the war?

During the war, our life, of course, changed significantly. The shelling has ended in our city tonight. I’ll try to sleep more after I write to you. It’s 2 a.m. now and [there’s] another shelling by Russian missiles.

Of course, thousands of people have left for other countries, but thousands are also seeking asylum in the cities of Ukraine. You can imagine that these people have lost all their possessions and often live in refugee shelters. Unfortunately, dozens of rockets with which the Russians destroy the civilian infrastructure of our city have become an important part of our daily life. Before the approaching cold weather in late autumn and winter, they try to make life miserable for civilians.

What is church life like right now? Where are you worshiping?

We celebrate Divine Services in our parish churches, and I also recently opened the Office of the Ecumenical Order of St. John, where we also have an ecumenical chapel and gather for prayer: facebook.com/OrderGothia.

What are the needs of Christians in your part of Ukraine? How can we help?

In addition to the Divine Service, which we celebrate every day in the morning and evening, we devote a significant part of our time to humanitarian work. Now our churches have become humanitarian hubs where people receive food, clothing, and medicine. Since the beginning of the war, our city of Zaporizhzhia has been filled with refugees from the territories occupied by Russia.

Therefore, the main problem for us is the purchase of warm clothes, blankets, battery-powered table lamps, heaters, and food for people in need. We also use this office for humanitarian and cultural activities. The electricity and water cost is about $150 per month, and there is also office rental cost.

Thank you very much, my dear friend and brother! We have many reasons to be sad. Every day, Russian missiles fly into our city, but we feel your prayers and the help of the entire American people.

Richard J. Mammana Jr. is archivist of The Living Church and the Episcopal Church’s ecumenical associate.

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