By Andrew Mentock
http://www.todayscatholicnews.org - Every Sunday in Mishawaka, a Mass is celebrated at a church where the congregation’s view of the altar is mostly obscured by a screen of colorful iconography; the readings are spoken from the back of the church; and the body and blood of Christ are mixed together and administered on a spoon. Although quite different from the Mass that most of the faithful within the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend celebrate each weekend and Holy Day of Obligation, this Mass is nonetheless Catholic.
St. Michael Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church was established on the west side of Mishawaka in 1916 and has cared for the spiritual life of Eastern Rite Catholics ever since.
The first thing one who walks into St. Michael is likely to notice is the vibrant iconography painted onto the Iconostasis, or wall of icons and religious paintings, near the altar. The prominent yellow, red and blue colors stick out; as do the doors leading to the altar, which only the priest may use. The embellished images of Jesus, Mary, and several saints may lead one to incorrectly assume that St. Michael is an Orthodox Church.
“Any Catholic can come to St. Michael and receive Communion and attend the Divine Liturgy,” said Rev. George Kuzara CPPS, the parish’s pastor. Attending Mass at St. Michael on Sunday fulfills a Roman Catholic’s Sunday obligation.
St. Michael is part of the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church, one of the 22 Eastern Catholic churches. Together with the Roman Catholic Church, they make up the one universal church.
“It’s important to understand the Eastern churches because of what Pope John Paul II said about how the church ‘breathes with both lungs.’ It doesn’t have one lung,” said Rev. Kuzara. “It has both the Eastern and Roman Catholic churches.”