The Ukrainian Catholic University (Ukrainian: Український Католицький Університет, Ukrains’kyy Katolyts’kyy Universytet) is a Catholic university in Lviv, Ukraine, affiliated with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The ceremonial inauguration honoring its founding took place on June 29, 2002. The Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) is the first Catholic university to open on the territory of the former Soviet Union and also the first university opened by one of the Eastern Catholic Churches.
The Ukrainian Catholic University was created as the successor to the Greek Catholic Theological Academy created during 1928-1929 by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky in Lviv, at the time part of Poland. Josyf Slipyj became the academy’s first rector. After its closure in 1944, the Ukrainian Catholic University in Rome, founded in 1963, continued the academy’s functions under the leadership of Metropolitan Slipyj. In 1994, the original school was recreated under the name of Lviv Theological Academy, and in 1998 it became internationally recognized by the Congregation for Catholic Education. Then on June 28, 2002, the Ukrainian Catholic University was founded on the basis of the Academy.
A new chapter in the UCU history began after Ukraine attained its independence in the wake of the 1991 Soviet collapse. In September 1994, the Lviv Theological Academy (LTA) was opened. In 1998 the LTA was recognized by the Congregation for Catholic Education.
The first graduation took place in the summer of 1999, with twenty-eight graduates receiving their degrees. This marked a significant milestone for the school as well as for theological education in Ukraine in general. For the first time:
laity received a Bachelor of Arts degree from a Ukrainian theological school at a post-secondary level;
women in Ukraine received a degree in theology.
Ukrainian Catholic University
Andrey Sheptytsky Centre
The UCU came into existence on the foundation prepared for it by the Lviv Theological Academy. On his visit to Ukraine on June 26, 2001, Pope John Paul II blessed the future university’s cornerstone. Its founding date was June 29, 2002.
The founding is seen by the university community as a culmination of efforts by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) and Ukrainian academics to create an educational institution, which would grow on the foundation of « Christian spirituality, culture and worldview ».
« I consider this project one of the most successful in the field of Ukrainian education », said Vyacheslav Bryukhovetskyy, President of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, after the establishment of the Lviv Theological Academy and its subsequent transformation into the Ukrainian Catholic University. The Rector Rev. Borys Gudziak expressed his hope that UCU would be a center for cultural thought and the formation of the new Ukrainian society based on human dignity.
In cooperation with the Institute of Religion and Society of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Catholic University established and runs the Religious Information Service of Ukraine with a multilingual Web Portal. In 2004, the Institute of Ecumenical Studies was established by the Senate of the Ukrainian Catholic University.