Metropolitan Bartholomew (Vashchuk) reposed in the Lord

Metropolitan Bartholomew of Rivne and Ostroh (Vashchuk). Photo:

Metropolitan Bartholomew (Vashchuk) of Rivne and Ostroh died at the age of 69.

On September 15, 2021, at the age of 68, the hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Bartholomew (Vashchuk) of Rivne and Ostroh, reposed in the Lord, reports the UOC Information and Education Department.

Vladyka Bartholomew headed the Rivne Eparchy of the UOC for more than a quarter of a century. Although in recent years he was very ill, he did not leave his church ministry. The bishop departed to the Lord peacefully, having received the Body and Blood of Christ.

Metropolitan Bartholomew (at birth – Viktor Vladimirovich Vashchuk) was born on March 1, 1953, in the village of Gorodnе of the Lyuboml District, Volyn Region, into a peasant family. The parents were deeply religious and the boy received a Christian upbringing.

After serving in the army, in 1975 the future bishop entered the Odessa Theological Seminary, and in 1979 – the Moscow Theological Academy. In 1983 he defended his dissertation and received the scientific degree of candidate of theology. In the same year, on October 16, he was ordained a deacon, and on October 18 – a priest. The future bishop received his first experience of parish ministry in the parish of the Transfiguration Church in the village of Stara Vyzhivka, Volyn Region, where he was appointed rector.

During his priestly ministry, he also fulfilled the obediences of the secretary of the eparchial administration and the rector of the Trinity Cathedral in Lutsk.

On December 22, 1989, priest Viktor Vashchuk took monastic vows with the name Bartholomew in honor of the holy Apostle Bartholomew. On January 18, 1990, he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite.

The Lord called Archimandrite Bartholomew to episcopal service on February 24, 1990. He was ordained bishop of Volyn and Rivne. At this time, the period of the revival of Orthodoxy begins after decades of atheistic prohibitions, and through the efforts of Vladyka Bartholomew, dozens of new churches were opened in Volyn. Thanks to his petition, in October 1990, a religious school, which received the status of a seminary a year later, was opened in Lutsk.  Vladyka Bartholomew at the same time became the first rector of the revived Volyn Theological Seminary.

Vladyka Bartholomew's ministry at the Volyn See coincided with a difficult period of church schism and aggression against the Church by radical nationalist groups. In August 1992, tragic events related to the seizure of the complex of the Lutsk Holy Trinity Cathedral together with the premises of the Volyn eparchial administration and the Volyn theological seminary of the UOC took place in Lutsk.

Soon Bishop Bartholomew was transferred to the Mykolaiv See, and a year later he became the head of the Sumy See.

On July 27, 1995, he again headed the Rivne Eparchy and led it until his death.

Vladyka Bartholomew published several collections on Orthodoxy in the Rivne region. He paid special attention to the revival of monasticism in his eparchy. During his administration, 16 monasteries and monastic sketes were opened and revived, in which hundreds of monks and nuns asceticise in fasting and prayer.

“In recent years, Vladyka Bartholomew courageously endured the illness-related ordeal,” says the obituary on the UOC website. “However, despite his physical infirmities, he strove zealously to fulfill his archpastoral ministry by prayer and preaching, protecting the flock entrusted to him from church schisms and other sinful temptations. His departure into eternity was realized in peace with everyone and after the last sacrament and receiving the Holy Mysteries of Christ."

As reported, Metropolitan Bartholomew of Rivne and Ostroh called on believers to adhere to Orthodoxy.

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