June 7, 2017


       From June 6-7 the Priests and Deacons of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg gathered in Winnipeg for a few events of particular interest to clergy.

       The Archeparchy’s College of Consultors met on June 6th at the Chancery offices on Scotia Street. The meeting began with a new member of the group taking the oath of office. Redemptorist priest and pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Winnipeg, Fr. Dmytro Dnistrian, CSsR, was appointed at the last Clergy Conference, but was unable to attend the last meeting of the Consultors and therefore was sworn in this time. The full list of the 12 members can be seen on the website of the Archeparchy.

       A number of issues were discussed at the Consultors’ meeting, including practical matters such as the ongoing updating of the insurance policy for church property and the financial state of the Archeparchy and related fundraising efforts. One of the functions of the Consultors is to advise the Archbishop concerning plans to establish new parishes and/or to close ones that have become redundant or unsustainable. The Metropolitan also consults this body of both appointed and elected priests concerning more major problems and projects that come up from time to time either on the eparchial level or on the level of a particular parish.

       Guests at the meeting were the Archeparchial Finance Officer, Gabriela Bradics, CGA and also a representative of the Archeparchy’s principal insurance provider, who participated via Skype. The members of the College of Consultors in attendance were very happy with the progress made at the meeting.

       That evening, members of the Consultors group and many other clergy from around the Archeparchy, attended a special evening at St. Joseph Parish on Jefferson Ave. to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Redemptorist Father – Rev. Bohdan Lukie. Father Bohdan is now serving in Yorkton, SK, but as he served many years in Winnipeg, he returned to the city for an evening of prayer and fine food. Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, spoke at the Moleben’ service in the church. Among other things, he also mentioned that Fr. Lukie was actually his English teacher at St. Vladimir’s College back in the day… “something Fr. Lukie never lets me forget”. The reception in the church auditorium was filled to capacity and - as happens when Ukrainian hospitality is involved - it went way beyond the simple “wine and cheese” that was mentioned in the invitation. A beautiful evening. May the Lord richly reward Fr. Lukie for his 50 years of priestly ministry and bless him for many more according to His holy Will.

       The following morning the whole presbyterate and the deacons of the Archeparchy congregated at Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Winnipeg’s Saint-Boniface arrondissement for a regular pre-summer clergy conference.

       To open the day, His Grace Metropolitan Lawrence, as is the custom, led the clergy in prayer from the Divine Office (Chasoslov) with some Pentecost selections in particular. He also asked Fr. Michael Tkachuk, Pastor of the Brandon and Portage la Prairie parishes, to read a Pentecost-related excerpt from the Fathers of the Church. Some of the first items included announcements and information for the clergy and their parishioners that they serve. Mary Jane Kalenchuk from the Winnipeg-based National Martyr’s Shrine of Blessed Vasyl’ Velychkovsky spoke about developments at the Shrine and invited everyone to the annual Feast of the New Ukrainian Catholic Martyrs to take place on June 27th at the Shrine (250 Jefferson Avenue).

[At this time, it was also brought to the attention of the clergy that one their number, Fr. Michael Tkachuk, was preparing to publish his second volume of poetry. This was a surprise to many who did not know that this former-teacher-turned-priest was a poet as well!] Other announcements were made.

The Archeparchy’s Syncellus (Vicar) for Property, Fr. Mark Gnutel, then took the podium to address the pastors about important developments in relation to the major insurer of church property - which includes churches, residences, halls and often cemeteries and the surrounding acreages. He also spoke on behalf of the Archeparchy in the matter of the Cathedraticum [i.e. the monthly donation made by each parish that is based, for the most part, on a set percentage of the donations received by each parish]. He rightly explained that we are all part of one eparchy. All parishes are members of the one body that makes up the Archeparchy of Winnipeg and we need to tend to the strength and needs of the whole body. The clergy, of course, understand this, but there were a number of very good questions as to what the Cathedraticum should look like in our day and how it is properly assessed. When the faithful in the parishes ask for more information it should be given by their parish priest and needs to reflect the activity and goals of the whole Archeparchy. The parish councils need only review the Archeparchy's, financial statements, Fr. Mark pointed out, which are always available on the website.

  The major presentation of the day was given by Metropolitan Lawrence himself. The subject involved the legislation introduced into Canada a year ago for the purpose of making available to all Canadians, “Medical Assistance in Dying” – commonly referred to as MAiD. The Archbishop has been a member of a committee tasked with producing a Catholic response to the various issues associated with the new “law”. Therefore, he was very well versed in all the issues and gave a very thorough, yet relatively concise, lecture on all the major challenges. The clergy, needless to say, were engaged from beginning to end. They had many excellent questions and observations. A good number had already encountered the question in their own parishes. This is a now issue in Manitoba and the pastors gathered in the auditorium of Sts. Peter and Paul have no illusions that they may not have to deal with the issue in their ministry. The discussions focused on how MAiD should be approached pastorally and what should be the guiding response and how would sacramental practices or funeral practices take shape surrounding the whole issue. Metropolitan shared his own insights as well as the response of other individual bishops and provincial episcopal conferences. Among the various resources that he quoted, Metropolitan also mentioned a pastoral letter about to be issued by Bishop David Motiuk of Edmonton which will provide a uniquely Eastern Catholic perspective on the whole matter. Why there was a variety of responses on the part of the Bishops, he explained, was because the federal government left it up to each provincial government to fine-tune the legislation in each province. Therefore, as the law varied slightly in each province, so does the Bishops’ response and pastoral guidance. This session ended in an unscripted pause of silence as everyone at the gathering contemplated the gravity and complexity of the issue. This conference did offer much helpful material and the clergy were grateful for it.

       The group then moved up to the church where Metropolitan lead a Panakhyda (requiem service) for the late Father and Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Cardinal Lubomyr Husar whose funeral services were concluded on Monday June 5th at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kyiv.

     Following the service, the Parish hosted all the clergy at a wonderful lunch at the Parish Centre next door. During the lunch, two members of the gathering were singled out for special recognition. One was Fr. Peter Chorney, the active Pastor of the Selkirk Area parishes, who was celebrating his 89th Birthday. The other was Hospital Chaplain and Pastor of Cooks Creek and Beausejour parishes, Fr. Taras Kowch, who was celebrating the 20th Anniversary of his priestly ordination that very day. He was ordained to the priesthood by the late Metropolitan Michael Bzdel, CSsR at Blessed Virgin Mary church in Winnipeg, where his uncle, Mitrat Roman Dobriansky had served for many years.


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