January 16, 2023



"God is with us, understand this you nations, and submit for God is with us!"

These words, originating from the prophecy of Isaiah, are for many a highlight of the Great Compline with Lytia that we serve at the Vigil of the Nativity of our Lord in the Flesh (Christmas). The joyful antiphonal singing of "God is with us" between the priest and the congregation creates a palpable dynamism which resonates within each person. As the Word became flesh, being "born of a Virgin in a cave in Bethlehem", so too do these words become enfleshed in the minds and hearts of those who speak and hear them.


After a poignant year with the ongoing war in Ukraine, these words offer for us a sense of hope. A hope that, in the midst of suffering and grief that the Ukrainian nation is experiencing on a daily basis, God continues to be with us. On Friday, January 6, 2023, this hope was made manifest at Sts. Vladimir and Olga Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, where hundreds of faithful came to celebrate Christmas. For many in attendance, this was the first Christmas they would celebrate outside of Ukraine, away from their homes and families. With the support of His Grace, Metropolitan Lawrence, the pastoral team and parishioners of Sts. Vladimir and Olga Cathedral sought to organize a "Holy Supper" preceding the liturgical services which would provide a sense of familiarity and comfort for those Ukrainian newcomers who would otherwise have nowhere to go, or would be celebrating by themselves.


The evening began with the "Holy Supper", where Metropolitan Lawrence and Bishop Andriy welcomed approximately 175 guests into the Cathedral's hall. Assisting them in welcoming these guests were Fr. Ihor Shved, Pastor of Sts. Vladimir and Olga Cathedral, Fr. Vasyl Hoi, and Br. Alex Pankiw. The Cathedral hall was beautifully decorated, and the tables were filled with food - the diligent work of parish volunteers. One could not help but feel deeply moved by the singing of Christmas carols, the sound of children running and laughing, and witnessing tears falling from the eyes of some in attendance.


Guests were the first to watch the premiere of the Sts. Vladimir and Olga Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral's youth and young adults perform their "Vertep". The vertep beautifully wove together the themes of the heartbreaking war in Ukraine with the joyful news of the birth of Christ. This vertep was coordinated by Dobr. Lesia Uhryn, and Mrs. Olena Storozhuk.


Following the "Holy Supper", Great Compline with Lytia, and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy served by Bishop Andriy Rabiy and priests of the Archeparchy was well attended, functioning as an official welcoming of Bishop Andriy to the Archeparchy of Winnipeg. Bishop Andriy was greeted with the traditional bread and salt by the youth of the Cathedral, as well as Fr. Ihor Shved.


Our thanks to Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak and Bishop Andriy Rabiy for their support in hosting the "Holy Supper", as well as their attendance at the Christmas services. Thank you to Fr. Ihor Shved and Dobr. Lesia Uhryn for their work, as well as the work of the parish volunteers. Thank you to Kozak Food for the delicious Christmas fare. Thank you to all those who go unnamed, volunteering their time, treasure, or talent in any way toward making this endeavour a success. God is with us!

  • Br Alex Pankiw

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