November 6, 2021



Father Markiyan Sashkevych who was born 210 years ago, but who died at the young age of 32, was remembered and honoured in Winnipeg at a monument dedicated to him in a city park also named for him. Father Markiyan, a Ukrainian Catholic priest, is celebrated as a hero by the Ukrainian people for his boldness in speaking up for the dignity and rights of people who otherwise were losing their voice and their very identity in the process. For many, his courage has taken on a new light of global significance in the present social climate wafting through world.

Father Markian came from a line of distinguished priests in his family. His fame, however, is sometimes associated with social activism more than priestly ministry. Nonetheless, a more contemporary study of his life and legacy suggests that his boldness to act on behalf of his people was strongly influenced by his dedication to the Lord and the teachings of His Church. The culture and faith of the people he served were being eroded by underhanded government policies, on one hand, and by a public and religious leadership that did not feel empowered to intercede. The eastern European roots of the Ukrainian people were being subtly tilled away. The people were being convinced that the lifestyle and values of the ruling class were the better way to go and that their sacrificing their basic right to language, history and cultural identity and their values would be worth it... or otherwise inevitable. Father Markiyan mustered the courage to intervene. His initial efforts may have lacked the diplomacy and patience that some would have preferred him to exercise, but his soul was sincere and earnest and he was convinced that a more delicate approach would compromise the cause even more. This cost him dearly. He became estranged from a father whom he loved, he nearly lost his priestly vocation as he was expelled from the seminary and was only begrudgingly reinstated after years of reapplications, and he was often rebuked by brother clergy and even church leadership that feared that his "rocking the boat" might cause wider problems. Father Markiyan died at the age of 32 in 1843 and was buried at a simple funeral by the local Dean.

On Saturday, 6 November 2021, 210 years to the day of his birth, a group of faithful met at Shashkevych Park in Winnipeg's historic Point Douglas district to pray for him and commemorate his legacy. The group was small, consisting of some laity and religious Sisters that led the responses. Three priests also were able to come out for the special event. Rev. Dr. Michael Kwiatkowski, introduced the event and led the Panakhyda (requiem service) and the rector of the Cathedral, Fr. Ihor Shved offered a brief synopsis of the life of Father Shashkevych. Father Ivan Mostivsky, the pastor of the adjacent parish church of St. Andrew concelebrated and offered commentary (which will be posted separately).

It was a humble, yet worthy commemoration of a great son of the Ukrainian people and a true priestly servant of the Lord and His People.

A brief video of the event may be viewed here...

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