November 12, 2020


On Thursday evening - the Feast of the holy hieromartyr St. Josaphat - a Divine Liturgy of thanksgiving was celebrated at Holy Eucharist Parish church in Winnipeg's East Kildonan. The special occasion was that the main celebrant, Rev. Father Edward Kwiatkowski, was commemorating and giving thanks to the Lord, because on that very day, 25 years earlier he was ordained a priest.

The ordination took place on a very stormy day in the pro-cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in the city of Brody, Ukraine. After completing his theology studies in Rome, Father Ed had spent two years in the Eparchy of Zboriv (as it was then called) in Western Ukraine. His first year there was something akin to an apprenticeship period where he assisted in the eparchial chancery while living in various parishes and gaining experience by helping various priests. After the first year, he was ordained deacon and served at "Holy Cross" in Brody where by then he had his own apartment. He taught catechism and even taught English on the side to some clergy, medical students and other young professionals.

After serving as a Deacon for year, the Local Redemptorist Bishop who had accepted him as a candidate two years prior, M. Rev. Michael Koltun, agreed to ordain Fr. Ed to the priesthood. Even with that great news, there occurred a bit of an adventure. On the day when he was to be ordained, a huge blizzard started in the early morning. The driver, who was to take Deacon Ed to the church for ordination, did his best to "get him to the church on time". However, with the terrible weather and road conditions, they did not make it. So Bishop Koltun graciously set the date for the following Sunday - November 12. Of Course, the Church in Ukraine follows the Julian ("old") liturgical calendar, but the date immediately touched the heart of Father Ed. That was the feast of St. Josaphat - the bishop-martyr who was the patron of the Ukrainian Pontifical Seminary in Rome where Fr. Ed learned so much in preparation for eventual priestly ministry. Lo and behold, that day too was a stormy day, but Father Ed made it to the Church and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Michael in the presence of many fellow clergy and faithful that came to know him and admire his spunk and spirit over the last couple of years. Alas, not a single family member was there, but they got the news and were with him in prayer that day.

25 years later, Fr Edward reminisced about the quarter century that ensued. It involved not a few hardships and but also many triumphs - both personal and especially in his ministry. He may not have imagined that his desire to serve the Lord and His People as a priest would take him along a long 25-year journey. But he kept going... He served in Ukraine, in the Roblin/Russell district of Manitoba, in Victoria, B.C. and, for the last almost 10 years, back in Winnipeg. When he made the bold move some 30 years ago, after an early retirement, to pursue a life-long dream of taking up studies in theology and perhaps serving the Church as an ordained minister, Fr. Ed had no idea what the future held. He simply moved forward and dealt with whatever situation, opportunity or challenge the Lord permitted to be set before him.

This was a special day. Unfortunately, the restrictions of the Covid-19 Pandemic tuned down the celebration that was originally planned. However, many were able to join online via livestreaming. Besides, in the end, Father Ed was standing at the Altar of the Lord and with His Lord - conversing and praying for the people that God had entrusted to him throughout the last 25+ years. At the Proskomedia table, just prior to the Divine Liturgy, Father Ed lovingly placed particles of the prosphora bread upon the diskos in memory of those many countless individuals that he carries in his heart. He remembered some by name and he prayed for many who he perhaps did not remember, "either through ignorance, or forgetfulness, or because of the great number of their names" (Anaphora, St Basil), but he entrusted them all the same to the Lord Who does remember all. By this anniversary liturgy, Fr. Ed had prayed the Divine Liturgy probably some 11,000 times over the last twenty five years. Today, he again fully appreciated the profound significance of this priestly action that was instituted by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ some 2000 years ago. He always has. And, as he said in his reflection following the Liturgy, Father Ed will continue to serve the Lord for as long as the Lord so wills.

Many greeting and best wishes came to Father Edward, but three were singled out to be read at the online celebration. One was a blessing from Pope Francis. Another was a beautifully-worded blessing from the Father and Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatolslav. The third was a truly kind and encouraging letter from the Archbishop of Winnipeg, Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak. In his message, among other things, Metropolitan Lawrence stated, "Fr. Edward, please be assured of our appreciation for your 25 years of priestly ministry and our prayers for good health and spiritual strength in the days that lie ahead. In the stillness of the presence of the Eucharistic Lord may you hear the songs of "Mnohaja Lita" from the lips and the hearts of all those who join with you today in celebration. May you be blest by the Good Lord on this anniversary day, with the prayers of St. Josaphat who has accompanied you from the day of your ordination to the present..."

God bless Father Edward. May he still serve long with us according to the will of God!

З ювілеєм 25-ліття священичого служіння, благослови, Господи, і сотвори Отцеві Едвардові многії і благії літа!

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