June 21, 2019


The clergy of the Archeparchy from around Manitoba gathered in Winnipeg for their regular pre-summer clergy conference on Friday, 21 June. They met in the city's East Kildonan district at Holy Eucharist Parish that was happy to host them as the parish is celebrating the centenary since its founding by the saintly Bishop - Blessed Nykyta Budka.

The day began with an early concelebrated Divine Liturgy for those priests that may not have had another opportunity due to travel or rescheduling in their own parishes. This was followed by a wonderful continental breakfast in the church auditorium where the conference was taking place.

The conference began with the Archbishop of Winnipeg, Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, leading the group in prayer. As it would be the last time that the clergy would meet before the summer schedule of many activities and events, a good amount of time was given to anyone who wanted to share about important events to which clergy and the faithful are invited. This included some anniversaries of priestly ordination, but also things such as some major pilgrimage events like - the Blessed Vasyl' Velychkovsky annual Feast day pilgrimage on 27 June and the Cooks Creek Pilgrimage on 16-18 August, etc.

One of the major themes of the day was the matter of the MAID tragedy that was thrust upon Canada two years ago and is obviously taking its toll on families and the elderly and the infirm that don't know how to react. It is a challenge that is being raised by faithful members of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy as among other people in the society we live. The response to legalized and promoted "assisted suicide" may be different on the part of practicing faithful, but they also need direction and clear guidelines. This is what the clergy spent most of the conference discussing. Part of discussion involved the viewing of a very informative video put out by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition entitled "Fatal Flaws". Other printed materials were shared with all the clergy.

What ensued was one of the most earnest and heartfelt discussions ever held by the clergy at their regular province-wide conferences. They all recognize the gravity and yet the complications of the problem as individuals and families deal with the age-old problem of aging and failing health and the need to care for our elderly parents and our infirm family members. What is different today is that a cultural shift has occurred that some wonder if the response isn't to help the infirm and aged along their way by giving them substances and or allowing them to take substances that would end their life. A few decades ago this was denounced as one of the horrors of the NAZI regime that wreaked horror on Europe. Now, some in the west want to promote it as good and even humane 'solution' to dealing with our elderly and infirm. Recently, the government has not only made the option available, but, by all reports, it is promoted more and more by some of the media and some in the medical profession. The pastors realize that they must respond more effectively for the sake of the people entrusted to their pastoral care who are seeking guidance.

The discussion was very fruitful and the clergy proposed several approaches to the matter that include raising awareness among themselves and their parishioners and providing easily accessible and clear resources. Metropolitan Lawrence offered his guidance to the clergy on various aspects of the challenges that euthanasia or MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) propose to faithful Christians today.

Among the various other items, the other major topic discussed was presented by Fr. John Sianchuk, CSsR, which was the present practice of funerals and services for the deceased. Again, changing trends were recognized within the Archeparchy and proposals were made as to how funerals could most effectively be celebrated in the future. New texts were shared with the clergy and they will take this into account and final decisions will be made when the clergy meet again.

A moleben' to Blessed Hieromartyr Nykyta Budka was prayed in the church, led by Parish Priest Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski. Then all gathered back in the auditorium for a much appreciated fellowship meal served by the ladies of the parish. Being a Friday, the ladies were proud that they served an amazing the food that the ladies served throughout the day was meatless and yet everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. His Grace Metropolitan Lawrence, as is the tradition, thanked the ladies and the clergy sang a grateful resounding "Mnohaya lita!"

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