Skrypnyk, Mstyslav

Image - Stepan Skrypnyk (later Patriarch Mstyslav) (1920 photo.) Image - UAOC hierarchs in the late 1940s (first row l-r): Mykhail Khoroshy, Ihor Huba, Metr. Polikarp Sikorsky, Oleksander Inozemtsiv, Nikanor Abramovych, Mstyslav Skrypnyk, Sylvestr Haievsky. Image - Patriarch Mstyslav (Skrypnyk). Image - Patriarch Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) in Ukraine (1990s).

Skrypnyk, Mstyslav [Скрипник, Мстислав; secular name: Степан; Stepan], b 10 April 1898 in Poltava, d 11 June 1993 in Grimsby, Ontario (and buried in South Bound Brook, New Jersey). Orthodox patriarch. A nephew of Symon Petliura, during the Ukrainian-Soviet War, 1917–21, he served in the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic. When the army retreated to Poland, he was interned in a camp in Kalisz. After his release he lived in Galicia and then Volhynia, where from 1926 he worked with the local government. In 1930 he completed a degree in political science in Warsaw. In the 1930s Skrypnyk was a leading member of the Volhynian Ukrainian Alliance. He served as a member of the Polish Sejm (1930–9), where he was especially active in defending the Ukrainian Orthodox church. He participated in church life, as a delegate to various church councils and a permanent executive member.

He was ordained a priest and made bishop of Pereiaslav for the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church in 1942 (he received his chirotonium in Kyiv), but was persecuted by the Gestapo in 1942–3. He emigrated to Germany in 1944 and was active in organizing émigré church life in Western Europe. In 1947–50 he was bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada (UOCC). During this period he was also chosen as head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America (UOCS) in December 1948, the prelude to a plan to unite that church with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA (UOC-USA). However, the reigning UOCS bishop Bohdan Shpylka opposed Mstyslav’s elevation and not all the church parishes fell in line with the unification design. Moreover, the fact that Skrypnyk aided and abetted the reconsecration of UOC-USA Bishop Ioan Teodorovych (who had been forced to resign as head of the UOCC in 1946 when the canonicity of his ordination had been questioned) brought him into direct conflict with the Consistory of the UOCC. In June 1950 he was dismissed from his position as the spiritual leader of the church in Canada at a sobor in Saskatoon. In 1950 Skrypnyk became head of the consistory and deputy metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA. In 1969 he became metropolitan of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church (UAOC) in Western Europe, and in 1971, metropolitan of the church in the United States. In 1990, after the revival and legalization of the UAOC in Ukraine, Skrypnyk was installed as its patriarch.

He was the founder of the religious and cultural center in South Bound Brook, New Jersey, and a supporter of the unification of all Orthodox jurisdictions. Moreover, he paid great attention to the practical needs of the Ukrainian Orthodox by improving the education of the clergy, expanding church publications, and supporting the standardization of church rite. He was given an honorary doctorate from Saint Andrew's College in Winnipeg and made an honorary member of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in the USA. He published a number of articles and served as editor of various periodicals and collections of works.

Tkachuk, Andrii. Mstyslav, Patriarkh Kyïvs'kyi i vsiieï Ukraïny: Istorychnyi portret (Kyiv 1993)
Stepovyk, Dmytro. Patriarkh Msyslav: Zhyttia i arkhipastyrs'ka diial'nist' (Kyiv 2007)
Smyrnov, Andrii. Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) (Kyiv 2008)

Ivan Korovytsky

[This article was updated in 2013.]

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