May 28, 2017



       Holy Eucharist Parish in Winnipeg’s East Kildonan was busy with activity on the weekend of the Sunday of the Fathers of the 1st Council of Nicaea which fell on May 28th this year.


       As Holy Eucharist Parish is one of the featured sites of DoorsOpen Winnipeg, the day was filled with all-day tours, a barbeque and yard-sale from morning right up until 5:00 PM. It required commitment on the part of the parishioners that volunteered, but it offered an occasion for hundreds of people to come in and see the amazing beauty of a Ukrainian Byzantine church and experience some kind parish hospitality. Members of the parish offered well-presented tours explaining not on the art and architecture, but the spirituality and tradition behind it all. The parishioners outside on the parking lot offered delicious food and a wide array of goods at one of the best yard sales of the city.

       On Saturday evening, vespers were prayed in the church in anticipation of the Sunday. The text most commonly used for vespers is that put together by the Sheptytsky Institute as it conveniently also includes the notes for each of the eight tones. The propers are invariably downloaded from the Royal Doors website.

       Following vespers, those gathered joined in for the Day 2 of the worldwide Mission Days program of renewal now underway. Various texts from Scriptures, one of the modern Fathers of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and other commentaries were read by the participants and an open sharing was held allowing everyone to express an insight or experience or to share an inspiration that they received. Especially popular are the threefold tasks that included in this year’s guidebook. The tasks are proposed mission or Evangelization opportunities for everyone to perform that touch family, the parish and the wider community. This program is underway in every parish of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg and, in fact every parish of the Ukrainian Catholic Church throughout the world! Mission Days is an annual Evangelization effort initiated by the Synod of Bishops and they run from the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord to the Pentecost Sunday.   


       Sunday morning - as usual - Deacon Myroslaw Tracz and a couple others are at the church an hour before the first liturgy. If the church isn’t open by 7:30, if the weather is nice, they will wait outside on benches at the south entrance of the building. Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski is appointed pastor of Holy Eucharist, but the parish is also blessed by two retired members of the clergy, Fr. Edward Kwiatkowski and Deacon MyroslawTracz, who continue to be active. The Pastor of the Archeparchy’s South-East parishes, Fr. Djura Maljik, who presently resides near the church, comes to concelebrate during the weekdays when he’s available. Other clergy, like Fr. Andrew Wach and Fr. Bohdan Borivets also come around occasionally – especially for major feasts that fall on a weekday.

       After the priestly prayers of preparation and vesting are said, the proskomedia is celebrated to prepare the gifts for the Divine Liturgy. After this is done, at least one of the priests will spend the time leading up to the beginning of the Liturgy in the Confessional. Parishioners at Holy Eucharist know that the opportunity for the Mystery (Sacrament) of Penance is available prior to every Divine Liturgy on a daily basis.

       The first Divine Liturgy begins at 8:30 AM and is celebrated almost entirely in Ukrainian, although some parts like the Epistle and the prayer before Holy Communion are usually repeated in English. From the Sunday of Parish Praznyk, June 18, this liturgy will be cancelled for the summer months leaving only the 10:00 AM Sunday Liturgy.

       At the 10:00 AM Divine Liturgy the crowd is a bit larger than usual as family members for a Baptism taking place later have come to attend. Also, being the national “Tag Day” for the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada (UCWLC), the member of the parish branch all came to the second Liturgy to participate and receive Holy Communion together as is the custom. Being the Sunday after the Ascension, there were additional special parts to the Liturgy, but Cantor Dave Hrehirchuk ably guided the congregation through it all.

       Following the Divine Liturgy, little Sophia Kateryna, the third child of her family to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at Holy Eucharist, was Christened. Many family members and some parishioners that stayed behind (as well as some DoorsOpen guests) witnessed this joyful event.

       In the meantime, the Ladies - members of the Parish Branch of the UCWLC – went over to the Parish Centre to continue their Tag Day program with an exquisite catered brunch, a guest speaker and the recognition of their members that achieved a milestone in their active membership. The speaker, Lesia Borys from the Sts. Volodymyr & Olha Cathedral Branch and the Culture Chair for the Archeparchial Executive, spoke to the gathering about her experience with the Home Care program and all the opportunities that it offers. The Ladies that received their “year pins” are as follows: Helen Dziedzic (40 years); May Kotyluk (40); Irene Mazur (30); Jean Prociuk (30); Virginia Wolfe (25); Vicky Lazaruk (15); and Elsie Taylor (10). Branch President Margaret Chemerika, who achieved her 50-year member pin last year,was presented by a belated Honorary Life Member certificate by the past President Lydia Firman.

       Shortly after this, another crowd gathered back at the church for the annual “Walking for Mary” event that involves some brief prayer services in the church an a long walk around the neighbourhood praying the Holy Rosary for numerous intentions and singing hymns. The whole event, besides being a time of prayer and manifestation of honour toward Mary, the Mother of God, is also a walkathon-style fundraising effort to keep the daily “Marian Hour” program on local radio station CKJS 810. Just before 2:00 PM, a Moleben’ was led by the Parish Priest with Lesia Sianchuk, CEO of the Lubov Foundation, leading the responses. There was a slight delay as the prayer service was completed before the Police escort had arrived, but soon a procession with many faithful from many parishes was formed and started moving toward the East along Munroe Avenue. Various groups were represented in the long column of ‘pilgrims’. There were icons and statues, crosses and banners as well as a large Rosary carried primarily by children. A good number of volunteers, under the direction of Walk organizer Joan Lewandosky-Kuzia, kept everyone moving along safely. They passed out water bottles throughout the walk and gave rides to those who became tired. They courteously explained to the drivers of passing vehicles as to what was happening and asking them to pause or pass carefully. They were always happy to comply and many were intrigued or moved by the event. After just under 6 kilometres of praying and praising through the streets, the Walk arrived back at the church where three brief events took place, that are a long-time tradition with the Walk. Roses were placed before a figure of the Mother of God in thanksgiving for favours granted. A Statue of Mary was crowned by representatives of the Girls of Mary and a blessing with the Blessed Sacrament was imparted to all. Following all this, everyone was invited to the lower level auditorium for a summer lunch of fresh hotdogs, watermelon, drinks and more.

       Later in the evening, a Moleben’ was held for two reasons…. It is a long time tradition in Western Ukraine to hold a Moleben’ in honour of the Mother of God every day throughout the month of May. “Mayivky (May devotions)” have been practiced for centuries and have always been well received as the prayers are familiar and the event usually provides an additional teaching/learning moment as a mini sermon is often preached at the time of the service. The other reason the Parish has a Moleben’ was in association with the abovementioned Mission Days. As in all parishes, the faithful are invited to gather on a daily basis from May 25 to June 4th to learn and share and ask for the grace needed to continue the work of the Apostles who burst out into the streets on Pentecost day to proclaim the Gospel and the Kingdom of God throughout the world. As it was already a long day of activity, the material was covered without excessive prolongation, but some did share their thoughts and everyone took home the “mission tasks” to fulfil before gathering again on Monday evening.

      It was a good day…

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