What are “eparchies”?
Eparchies, also referred to within the Catholic Church as “particular churches” or “local churches” under the authority of a Bishop (also “Eparch”) are ecclesiastical circumscriptions defined by geographical territory (such as the civil boundaries of a city). In that respect, they are the equivalent to “dioceses” in the Latin Catholic Church. The eparchies of a given region are often grouped together by the Holy See into “ecclesiastical provinces” in order to facilitate cooperation and common action among them. An eparchy within an ecclesiastical province can be designated an “archeparchy” (or “metropolitan archeparchy”), denoting a higher rank often due to its larger population and historical significance. An archeparchy, under the leadership of its Archbishop (also “Archeparch”), has responsibilities vis-à-vis subordinate (or “suffragan”) eparchies only in very limited areas assigned to it by the Holy See. Otherwise, each eparchy and archeparchy, and its respective Bishop or Archbishop, are distinct and autonomous.
What are Eastern Catholic Churches?
The Catholic Church is composed of twenty four (24) autonomous Churches or Churches sui iuris (literally “of their own right”). Twenty three (23) of these Churches – each with their own hierarchy and diverse liturgical, theological, spiritual as well as canonical/disciplinary patrimony – are referred to as Eastern Catholic Churches due to their origins in Alexandria, Antioch, Armenia, Chaldea and Constantinople. The other of the (24) Churches is the Latin Catholic Church, which name is derived from the language associated with its earliest communities in what was once the Roman Empire. The majority of the Catholic faithful in the world (and in Canada) belong to the Latin Catholic Church (commonly referred to as “Roman Catholic Church”). All twenty four (24)Churches share the same doctrines in faith and morals and are in full communion with each other and with the Successor of Saint Peter, the Pope, who is the symbol of unity within the Catholic Church. They are consequently of equal dignity, enjoy the same rights, and are bound by the same obligations, including that of preaching the Gospel to the whole world under the guidance of the Pope (Cf. Decree by Pope Paul VI on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite, Orientalium ecclesiarum, n. 3).
The ecclesiastical structure known as the “Episcopal Conference,” of which the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is one example in the Catholic Church, has for members Bishops and Archbishops of the Latin Catholic Church; however, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops also welcomes Eastern Catholic Bishops among its members, even though the Eastern Catholic Bishops are members of their respective Synods.
Eparchies in Canada
The Catholic faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches have been present in Canada since the late 1800s. Their numbers are increasing today as a result of immigration, as well as refugees fleeing situations of persecution and violence, especially in the Middle East. The influx has resulted in the erection of new ecclesiastical circumscriptions of the Eastern Catholic Churches in Canada, referred to as “eparchies” (or “exarchates” at their rudimentary stage), under the authority of their own Bishops. In regions of Canada where the numbers of Eastern Catholic faithful do not warrant the erection of an exarchate or an eparchy, it is the local Latin Catholic Bishop that provides for the spiritual needs of the Eastern faithful present in his diocese.
List of Eparchies in Canada (listed alphabetically by civil geographic region):
Canada / USA – Syro-Malankara Eparchy of St. Mary, Queen of Peace of the USA and Canada
Canada / USA – Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St. George in Canton for Romanian Greek-Catholics
Canada / USA – Eparchy of the Patriarchal Armenian Catholic Church
Edmonton – Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy
Laval – Apostolic Exarchate for Syro-Catholics in Canada (no official website)
Mississauga – Syro-Malabar Exarchate of Canada
Montréal – Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Canada
Montréal – Greek-Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Canada (no official website)
New Westminster – Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy
Saskatoon – Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy
Toronto – Mar Addai Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Canada
Toronto – Eparchy of Saints Cyril and Methodius of Slovaks of the Byzantine Rite in Canada
Toronto and Eastern Canada – Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy
Winnipeg – Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy
Directory of Dioceses, Eparchies, Ordinariates