Mykhailo Ozorovych enjoys being near the altar and bringing Jesus to the people
By Nathan Rumohr
Young seminarian Mykhailo Ozorovych knew he could have chosen any career he wanted in his home country of Ukraine. But the 20-year-old chose instead to serve as a priest, and is now a seminarian for the Eparchy of New Westminster.
"When I was 16 years old I felt I had a vocation to the consecrated life," Ozorovych said.
While growing up in his homeland his life revolved around the church on Sundays. He would serve as an altar boy at all the Divine Liturgies (Masses) that day. He was also heavily involved in youth group.
"I met many friends at church; it was a style of life. I really liked it and didn't see it as a burden."
Ozorovych learned English at a special school in his home city of Ivano-Frankivsk and took part in a student exchange program in Minnesota during his Grade 12. He said he obtained good marks while in high school and could've got into any university in Ukraine.
"But there was only one thing I enjoyed doing, and that's being near the altar," he proudly told The B.C. Catholic. "I wanted to bring people to Jesus."
After high school Ozorovych studied three years of philosophy in the Ivano-Frankivsk Archeparchial (Archdiocesan) St. Josaphat's Seminary. He was the only English-speaking seminarian out of 200.
Ozorovych impressed Eparch Ken Nowakowski of New Westminster two years ago while the bishop was leading a pilgrimage of New Westminster Ukrainian Catholics to Ukraine. Ozorovych was a translator for pilgrims not fluent in Ukrainian.
Then this past spring, while Eparch Nowakowski chaired a meeting of the Patriarchal Commission for Priestly Formation in Ukraine, he met up with Ozorovych and asked him if he would explore the possibility of becoming a seminarian for the Eparchy of New Westminster.
"We talked and he invited me, because there was a shortage of seminarians in Vancouver," Ozorovych said.
"The Archbishop of Ivano-Frankivsk, Volodymyr Vityshian, recommended and gave his blessings to Mykhailo," Bishop Nowakowki said. "I've selected the best of the best."
Ozorovych arrived in June and spent his summer in the eparchy learning from Eparch Nowakowski as part of an inculturation program. He said B.C. reminds him of Western Ukraine, where he grew up. "The climate is similar to B.C. but we have much colder winters," he joked.
Part of the inculturation program involved Ozorovych learning about Canadian culture in society and travelling the eparchy, which covers the province of B.C. and further north.
Ozorovych could see the need for a new priest while he travelled. This sense of purpose has helped him rationalize his permanent move to B.C. away from his family.
"My family shares my dream to be a priest," Ozorovych said. "On one (hand) I don't want to leave my family and my home, but that's a sacrifice when you become a missionary and you give up your previous life to live a new life in Christ."
Ozorovych returned to Ukraine Sept. 5 after accompanying Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk on his pastoral visit to the Eparchy of New Westminster. Ozorovych will spend the fall and winter in his homeland before returning to Canada to study in Ottawa at the Ukrainian Holy Spirit Seminary and St. Paul's University.
He said the Eparchy of New Westminster is his new home, and he will be serving there during Christmas and summer breaks.