Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) of Kiev

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Patriarch Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) of Kiev was a prominent Ukrainian Orthodox Church hierarch (including being the first Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, being one of the Metropolitan's of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, and becoming the first Patriarch of the schismatic Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church).

Early Life

Stepan Ivanovych Skrypnyk was born in Poltava (Russian Empire, now Ukraine) on April 10, 1898, the nephew of Symon Petlura a prominent Ukrainian military and political figure. Stepan attended the Poltava First Classical Gymnasium and dreamed of a military career during his youth. During the Great War he studied at the Officers' school in Orenburg located in the Russian Ural mountains.

Following the 1917 Russian Revolution he became a diplomatic courier for the army of the first Ukrainian state in modern history, the Ukrainian People's Republic. He then served as first sergeant for special missions for Petlura, his famous uncle.

In the early 1920s he was interned by the Polish to an internment camp in Kalisz. Later, he briefly settled in Volhynia but had to leave under pressure of the Polish authorities. He then moved to Galicia and became an activist for the Ukrainian movement in Poland which controlled the enthnic Ukrainian territories of Galicia and Volhynia between the world wars. Following his attendance at the Warsaw School of Political Sciences he was elected in 1930 to the Polish Sejm from the Ukrainian population of Volhynia. Serving in Sejm until 1939 Skrypnyk attained the reputation of the defender of the Ukrainian minority rights in Poland, especially of the Orthodox Faith in the predominantly Orthodox Volhynia against the assimilationist policies of Polish authorities.

At the beginning of the Second World War, the Ukrainian life in some Nazi-occupied territories of Poland initially experienced a significant degree of revival as the Nazi policies pitted the ethnic groups against each other using historically complicated relationships, giving an upper hand to Poles or Ukrainians in different regions as the Nazis saw fit.


In 1940, when the Ukrainian Committee and the Temporary Church Council was formed in Cholm (Chelm), Skrypnyk was elected a council deputy head. In April 1942 Skrypnyk, by then a widower, entered the priesthood. He took monastic vows in the following month, with the name Mstyslav. On May 14 he was consecrated Bishop of Pereiaslav by the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). The consecration took place in the Church of St. Andrew in Kiev.

In August 1942, the German occupational authorities banned Bp. Mstyslav from the Kiev General-Governorate. As Bp. Mstyslav disobeyed the order, he was arrested in Rivne. On Gestapo accusations he spent half a year imprisoned in Chernihiv and Pryluky. He was freed in Spring 1943 but was ordered not to leave Kiev and was banned from conducting religious services.

In 1944, he moved to Warsaw and later to Germany where he was the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox eparchies in Hessen and Wurtemberg. In 1947, he left for Canada where he was elected the first hierarch of the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church (now known as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada) as archbishop of Winnipeg. In 1949, he resigned from his see.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

In 1949, he became the metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA. At the 1949 Council in New York he succeeded in bringing about unification with the eparchy of Bishop Ioan Teodorovych, who became Metropolitan of the UOC of USA. Bp. Mstyslav became his deputy and head of the consistory. In the U.S., Bp. Mstyslav began extensive church activity with the Ukrainian Orthodox Center, a publishing house, library and seminary, being built in South Bound Brook, New Jersey. In 1969, his authority was extended over the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Churches of Europe and Australia. During his meetings with Ecumenical Patriarch in 1963 and 1971 he brought up the issue of the canonical recognition of the Ukrainian Diaspora churches (UAOC was banned in the USSR, and hence in Soviet Ukraine at that time).


In 1990 he returned to Ukraine where at his age of 92 he was elected the first Patriarch of Kiev and all Ukraine of the UAOC following its controversial and short-lived union with the recently proclaimed Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate. He was enthroned as Patriach Mstyslav on November 6, 1990.

As the status of the new church, as well as the overall situation with the Orthodox faith in Ukraine became a subject of wide controversy, following the 1991 attainment of Ukrainian independence (which continues to this day) the newly elected, but ailing, patriarch was unable to alleviate any of the problems. He died on June 11, 1993 at the age of 95 while in Canada and was buried in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA center in Bound Brook, New Jersey.

He was succeeded in UAOC by Patriarch Dymytriy (Yarema) while the Church matters and unity remain largely in disarray. The issue of repatriating Mstyslav's relics to Ukraine are occasionally raised but no firm plans are set in motion to this day.

Succession box:
Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) of Kiev
Preceded by:
Archbishop of Winnipeg and Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Canada (UGOC)
Succeeded by:
Hilarion (Ohienko) of Winnipeg
Preceded by:
John (Theodorovych) of Philadelphia
Primate and Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Succeeded by:
Constantine (Buggan) of Irinoupolis
Preceded by:
Patriarch of Kyiv and All Ukraine (Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church)
Succeeded by:
Dmytrij (Yarema) of Kyiv
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