March 12, 2020


Not long ago, some parishes in the city opened to the public their weekly vespers or so-called "all-night-vigil", that usually occurred on Saturday evening or occasionally on the eve of major feasts. Fr. Richard Soo, SJ, who was then the Chancellor of the Archeparchy, was a notable proponent of this practice. The service would take place at the Rossdale parish church, where he was pastor, or, later, at the Chancery chapel. Other parishes also maintained the practice, at least for their parishioners that were interested. When Hierodeacon Paisius was residing in the city, he also helped lead vespers at Holy Eucharist Parish, which was always attended by a small group of parishioners. There certainly were and are other parishes that have this practice - at least for their own parishioners - either weekly or on major feasts. If there is a group of parishioners able and willing to sing the service, this is always a delight to the parish priest as he usually prays vespers by himself anyway as part of his daily praying of the Divine Office.

Well... some clergy in Winnipeg together with their capable cantors, have started hosting vespers in various parishes on the eve of major feasts. The crowds have varied, but they seem to be growing. At vespers at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church in Winnipeg's St. Boniface on the eve of the Feast of the Encounter (Presentation) some 50 people gathered for the prayer and subsequent fellowship. That is impressive. It is a clear sign that, offered an opportunity, people want to gather in prayer beyond the Sunday Divine Liturgy.

The next scheduled feast-day Vespers will take place on the eve of the Annunciation - March 24 - at the church of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Rossdale just north of Winnipeg (530 Donald Road), beginning at 7:00 PM. The texts of vespers as well as the "propers" (changeable parts) are provided. So come, pick up the 'handouts' come to the front and join in!

There has been talk of organizing a similar cycle for vespers that would be sung in Ukrainian. (which would have the texts more easily available with the famous Dyvensvit App that uploads the texts daily for vespers, matins and the hours as well as more liturgical information). Stay posted...

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