Budka, Nykyta

Image - Bishop Nykyta Budka among Ukrainian Catholics in Edmonton in 1917. Image - Bishop Nykyta Budka.

Budka, Nykyta, b 7 September 1877 in Dobromirka, Zbarazh county, Galicia, d 1 October 1949 in Karaganda, Kazakh SSR. Ukrainian Catholic bishop. After attending university in Vienna and Innsbruck, Budka received a doctorate in theology and was ordained in 1905. He became prefect of the Greek Catholic Theological Seminary in Lviv and involved himself with Ukrainian emigration through the church-sponsored Saint Raphael Galician and Bukovynian Emigrant Aid Society, which he helped to found. In October 1912 he was consecrated bishop and in December became first head of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic church in Canada. His pastoral letter of 27 July 1914 (on the eve of the First World War) calling upon Ukrainian immigrants to be prepared to defend their ‘old Fatherland’ (Austria-Hungary) created considerable controversy. However, Budka quickly retracted it in his subsequent pastoral letter of 6 August 1914 and largely contained whatever damage might have been caused by his earlier missive.

Budka oversaw the expansion and early development of the Ukrainian Catholic church in Canada. However, his temperament and limited organizational skills served him poorly as the hierarch of what was still a pioneer church structure. During his tenure a dispute emerged between Budka and the local secular Ukrainian intelligentsia over the nature of the Mohyla Ukrainian Institute in Saskatoon, which gradually escalated into the formation of the rival Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. During the 1920s he offered support to the Hetmanite movement in Canada in the anticipation that its strong respect for vested authority would strengthen the church’s position. In September 1927 Budka went to Rome to report on the troubled state of the church in Canada. The trip led to his resignation and reassignment early in 1928 as an auxiliary bishop of Lviv archeparchy. In 1945 the Soviet authorities arrested and sentenced him to eight years in a labor camp. He died a martyr for his faith.

Budka was beatified by Pope John Paul II during his June 2001 trip to Ukraine. In 1984 the Bishop Budka Charitable Society was established in Edmonton to provide financial assistance to various needy Ukrainian communities throughout the world.

Hryniuk, S. ‘Pioneer Bishop, Pioneer Times: Nykyta Budka in Canada,’ Historical Studies 55 (1988)
Shykula, M.; Korchinski, B. Pioneer Bishop: The Story of Nicetas Budka’s Fifteen Years in Canada (Regina 1990)

[This article was updated in 2009.]

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