History of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Parish and the Ukrainian Community in Edmonton

Historscal 1939 cathedral constructionThe first Ukrainian settlers were peasants who settled in the prairies in 1880s. They tilled the productive black soil and filled the prairies with fields of wheat. Ukrainian communities began to spring up in various parts of Alberta. But the pioneers felt a lack of their own church and their priests. Various religions sent their preachers into the communities. The Ukrainian people would not have endured in their faith had their priests not arrived on time to help them in their spiritual needs.

The Catholic hierarchy of western Canada was French. The area in which Ukrainians settled in the early part of the century was under the jurisdiction of the bishop of St. Albert, near Edmonton, Bishop Vital Grandin who died in 1902 and his auxiliary, Bishop Emile Legal, who succeeded him. It was he who made the first efforts to provide for the spiritual needs of the Ukrainian settlers with the help of the Oblate Fathers. Among the outstanding French priests who helped the first missionary group of Basilian Fathers were primarily Frs. Lacombe, Leduc, and A. Jan.

There had been Ukrainian priests prior to 1902, but only on temporary basis. In his memoirs of 1897 Rev. Nestor Dmytriw mentioned that young Ukrainian girls worked in Edmonton in hotels and in private homes, and attended school three days a week. Bishop Legal appointed Fr. A. Jan, a French priests who had learned Ukrainian to work among these Ukrainian girls in Edmonton, most of whom were employed as domestics.

The first permanent Ukrainian Greek Catholic missionaries arrived on a frosty autumn evening on October 31, 1902, to the Strathcona station, in South Edmonton as the last station in the Prairie Provinces. They were Fr. Platonid Filas, Fr. Sozont Dydyk, Fr. Anton Strotsky, Bro. Jeremiah Yamishewsky and four Sister Servant Servants of Mary immaculate: Sister Amrosia Lenkewich, Sr. Isidora Shypowsky, Sr. Emelia Klapoushuk and Sr. Taida Letawsky. The first snow fell on the second day in the morning, as if a white carpet welcoming them to their unknow destination.

The priests began to serve around the Edmonton area: Rev. S. Dydyk at Rabbit Hill, present day Leduc, Rev. A. Strotsky at Star, Rev. P. Filas at Beaver Lake. Rev. P. Filas arrived at Beaver Lake on November 7th 1902 and on Sunday the following day had his first sermon to the parishioners in a local church. Sister Taida died soon afterwards.

The first official Ukrainian Liturgy in Edmonton was celebrated on November 9, 1902 in St. Joachim’s Church, administered by the French Oblates. Rev. Strotsky officiated and Rev. Dydyk preached the sermon. The choir consisted of a group of Ukrainians from Rabbit Hill. The Ukrainians continued to use St. Joachim’s, with alloted time for the Ukrainian Liturgy every Sunday and holidays. During most of their first year in Canada, the Fathers in the Edmonton area lived with the Oblates.

One month after the arrival of the Ukrainian missionaries, Bishop Legal acquired some land in Edmonton for the Ukrainians. Frs. Filas and Dydyk decided to go ahead with the building of a church on that property. With money borrowed from the French bishop and priest, they built a church 60 feet long and 40 feet wide. It was built in 1904 at a cost of $2,500.

The blessing of the Edmonton church took place on Sunday, November 27, 1904 – the feast of St. Josaphat. A large number of people came from far away. The main celebrant was Rev. Filas, assisted by Rev. Strotsky and Rev Dydyk. Many Englishmen and Frenchmen also were present at the blessing.

Although the church was completed on the outside, the interior still needed work. It was impossible to hold services in the church in winter because of the cold. Since there was no money to buy a furnace or coal, Mr. Thedore Chichka helped to provide coal from the banks of the Saskatchewan River. Mr. A. Fraser, a local lumber dealer provided much materials to complete the interior of the church on long term credit. Brother Jeremiah worked on the interior of the church, assisted by Harry Mazuryk. Soon the interior of the church was completed.

There was some opposition from a group of unhappy individuals who complained that the church was located too far away from where the people lived. But gradually more and more Ukrainians began to move in. At that time there were 300 Ukrainian families and 500 children in Edmonton.

Rev. Filas was appointed the Provincial Superior of the Basilians in Galicia, Western Ukraine and left for Lviv. During Rev. Dydyk’s days as parish priest, his parishioners of St. Josaphat also took part in civic celebrations. On September 1, 1905 Alberta was declared a separate province, with its own legislature. Governor General Lord Grey and Prime Minister Laurier came to take part in the celebrations.

In 1906 the Ukrainian Prosvita Association was founded in Edmonton under the guidance of Rev. Matthew Hura, OSBM at the home of Luke Yarmolyk and which evolved into the institution of Ukrainian National Home. That organization began to serve as the center of cultural activities of the church.

The typhus epidemic struck Edmonton in the fall of 1906, followed by the extremely cold winter. On January 2, 1907, the temperature dropped to minus 54 degree, the coldest day on record. That contributed to the drop of religious and cultural activities.

Rev. S. Dydyk was appointed superior of the Basilian mission in Canada and left Edmonton on January 10, 1907. He was replaced by Rev. Matthew Hura, OSBM, who at first carried out pastoral duties in Edmonton.

Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky

Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky

In October 26, 1910, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky visited Edmonton. He was greeted by hundreds of enthusiastic people at the Railway station. Many people wore their Ukrainian costumes. The choir sang Ukrainian songs. The people knelt as the Metropolitan passed through their midst. He was driven to church with the Mayor of Edmonton, where a Moleben was celebrated. On Sunday October 30, the Metropolitan Andrey celebrated Pontifical Divine Liturgy in St. Josaphat Parish. He also served Vespers at Joachim Church where he delivered the sermon in French. The Edmonton Journal called his visit to Edmonton both splendid and memorable.

Blessed Bishop Martyr Nykyta Budka

Blessed Bishop Martyr
Nykyta Budka

In 1912 Bishop Nykyta Budka was appointed for Ukrainians (Ruthenians) in Canada. He visited Edmonton on Friday February 28, 1913. On Sunday March 2 he celebrated early Pontifical liturgy at St Josaphat parish. In the afternoon he participated in the service along with bishop Legal at St Joachim parish. At 8 pm he attended the meeting with the Ukrainian cultural organizations. Again the Edmonton Journal printed a length article about the “Ruthenian Bishop.”

The church was expanded to twice its original size in 1913 at a cost of $3,500. Rev M Hura continued from 1913 with Rev. Basil Ladyka, OSBM, who served the church until 1922. On November 30, 1916 the first Convention of Ukrainian Catholics of Alberta took place.

Ladies organization “Zoria” started in 1913. They helped in fundraising for the parish. They organized teas, concerts and carnivals.

The first convention of Ukrainian Catholics of Alberta started on Thursday November 30, 1916. The main speaker was Roman Kremer who spoke about the need to help the Ukrainians in the old country and the need to organize our cultural and religious life in Canada. Conventions were held regularly every year for the next few decades.

Bishop Nykyta Budka among Ukrainian Catholics in Edmonton 1917

Bishop Nykyta and Ukrainian Community

On Sunday May 27, 1917 Bishop Nykyta blessed the corner stone for the construction of the Ukrainian National Hall. A large procession of children, adults, choirs and soldiers in uniform left the church to the site. It was underlined that the hall was being built by Ukrainian Catholics of Alberta. A great concert was held on Saturday September 29 and the official blessing of the Hall took place on Sunday September 30, 1917 with the celebration of Divine Liturgy attended by thousands of faithful and government representatives. However the interior construction still continued until December 24, 1917.

During the following years numerous concerts were held in the hall. Drama performances appeared a number of times each year. Annual concerts were held to commemorate two of the great writers of Ukraine, namely Taras Shevchenko and Markian Shashkevych. The Ukrainian youth group was named after the later. Numerous visiting musicians and singers also performed in the Hall. The hall was also used for meetings, conventions and seminars.

During World War I many Ukrainians from Edmonton and area were interned into labor camps and others had to report periodically to local authorities. The internees had their possessions confiscated.

The decision of the 2nd Convention of Ukrainian Catholics of Alberta in 1918 was to purchase a Ukrainian newspaper, Novyny (news), which would serve the interests of Ukrainian Catholic. The paper was published by Roman Kremer. However on September 30, 1918 the newspaper and the Ukrainian National Home was forced to close, because the War Measures did not allow for publishing of newspapers in foreign languages. Constant intervention by Ukrainian priests helped to obtain permission to print the newspaper, provided it also had English language materials. The newspaper resumed its work on November 1918. The English language provision was applicable until April 1919.

Now that the Ukrainians had their own Hall and newspaper, they now petitioned for their own residential school. During those years schools were not accessible to all people in communities outside the city. Ukrainians of Alberta wanted a place where their children could receive a good education. A few cities in Canada already had such schools. The new school on 98 Ave and 108 St was called the Edmonton Ukrainian School of Taras Shevchenko. The school give a firm Ukrainian and a religious education to help in the fight against the rise of Communism. The official opening of the Institute of Taras Shevchenko was held on September 30, 1918. However the Institute began to suffer major difficulties.

Spanish influenza broke out in the autumn of 1918. Many schools and theater were closed. People were advised not to attend meetings and to stay away from crowds. The ban applied to the end of the year. In the meantime the UNH remained closed, while monthly payments had to be met. Even the local Ukrainian newspaper was stopped.

In 1919 snow fell early and lay until the mid-1920. Prices of grain fell. Parents did not have enough money to pay for their children’s education and often would bring produce as payment. They also had to cope with high interest rates. This Institute continued until June 1922.

But Ukrainians did not give up. A second Institute under the name “Ukrainian Catholic Institute” operated from September 1925 to June 1931 on 92 St. Its first director was Rev. Hughes. From 1927 the superiors of this school were: Brothers Methodius, Athanasius and Walter.

Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky visit to Edmonton

Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky visit to Edmonton

On October 1921 Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky visited Edmonton for the second time. The purpose of his visit was to collect funds for the victims of war in Ukraine. A public fundraising was held. The names of donors were published in the Edmonton Journal on October 10 and 17, 1921. A sum of $834 was collected from the Edmontonians, including the French, English and from various businesses.

When Rev. B. Ladyka, the pastor of St. Josaphat in Edmonton, was appointed Canada’s second Ukrainian Catholic bishop, Rev. Dydyk returned to the parish he had founded in 1903 to become its pastor, which he served in from 1929 to 1943. In 1929 Ukrainian News replaced the previous publications of the Ukrainian Catholic community of Edmonton. Rev. Dydyk again became one of the founding members and then the chairman of that weekly newspaper.

The Ukrainian community felt a need to have a strong central organization for its community. In 1931 they organized the Union of Ukrainian National Homes. This served as the nucleus for the organization of the Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood which was organized in Edmonton in 1933 as an organization of lay men, women and youth. The function of the UCBC was to coordinate the work and activity of all Ukrainian Catholics in Canada.

In 1938, on the 950th anniversary of Christianity of Ukraine, Rev. Dydyk proposed a plan to construct a new monumental church in Edmonton. St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church in Edmonton was designed by Fr. Philip Ruh, OMI. Construction of the church was begun in 1939 beside the first church. Mr. Michael Yanchynsky was in charge of construction. The laying of the cornerstone of the new church took place on October 1, 1939. Bishop B. Ladyka took part in the ceremony. The blessing of the crosses on the domes on October 21, 1941.

In 1940s many Ukrainian families had moved in and lived not far from St Josaphat Church, therefore they had the opportunity to participate fully in the Ukrainian religious and community life of Edmonton.

In the autumn of 1940 the ladies organization `”The Good Will” was formed to assist at teas and at banquets. When the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League was formed in 1942 the “Good Will” club became its founding member. In 1942 the UCBC split into separate organizations of men, ladies and the youth under the guidance of the Ukrainian Catholic Council. The UCC also included the organization of “Ukrainian Catholic Youth” (UCY), Ukrainian Catholic University Students “Obnova” and the Mutual of St. Nicholas. Their monthly publication was the Catholic Action.

The 7th Convention of UCBC was held from March 11 to 13, 1944 attended by 200 delegates. Their main concern was to build an educational institute of St. Josaphat. Rev. S. Kurylo spoke about fundraising and the importance of having such an institution.

In 1943, Rev. Dydyk was transferred to the United States and Rev. Basil Kamenetsky was appointed pastor. The construction of the new church was completed during his time. The solemn dedication of the church took place in 1947, with Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, the secretary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, officiating.

The Cathedral has seven octagonal copper domes, each topped with a cross, symbolizing the seven sacraments. The walls are of red bricks, with pilasters of darker bricks and ornamental crosses of yellow bricks in the upper sections.

The Church of St. Josaphat became the Cathedral on March 3, 1948. On that date the Ukrainian Edmonton Eparchy was formed. Bishop Neil was installed bishop on April 13 of that year. A large banquet on June 21, 1948 marked the event at the MacDonald Hotel.

In 1949 Rev. Sebastian Shewchuk became pastor of St. Josaphat. The painting of the interior of the cathedral was begun during his pastorate in 1950 and was finished under his successor, Rev. Boniface Sloboda, OSBM. During that time nine priests lived in the parish residence. One of the priests, Rev. Josaphat Skwarok was the grandson of the first parishioners of this parish. He served as an altar boy in St. Josaphat parish and later became a priest and worked as secretary to the bishop Neil for over 30 years, and later became the director of religious education in the Catholic School System of Edmonton, as the bishop’s representative.

After World War II an influx of settlers came to Edmonton, many of whom had higher education and were more nationally conscious. It also brought in many married priests with families. New organizations were introduced into the church community, among them were two new youth organizations, Plast and SUM. Many of the new organizations shared the rooms in the basement of the church.

Soon after his arrival in Edmonton Prof J. Bucmaniuk began to draw plans for the decoration of the cathedral. His paintings had already been known in church painting in Ukraine, especially the Basilian Church in Zhovkva, Ukraine. He drew plans in small sections which were displayed for public review in the church basement. The work proceeded with the help of his son Bohdan. Scaffolding was set up and work began in painting the Cathedral. The artists used egg tempera paints which they prepared themselves by mixing the paint in large pails. The paint consisted of powder pigments, mixed with water, milk and eggs. The work was completed in 5 years. The artist added himself to the mural of the Last Judgement which can be seem on the left side of the church.

In 1949 a Ukrainian day care center was organized for children of the new immigrants with the help of Professor Nicholas Kowaluk. The first “Sadochok” or children’s day care was officially opened for service on September 7, 1949 in the church basement. Mrs. Nadine Romankiw prepared food for the children and taught the children Ukrainian games and songs. The children performed in various concerts. This Sadochok continued for four more years of operation.

Since Sacred Heart School was adjacent to St Josaphat Cathedral, the Ukrainian pupils could benefit from frequent religious services in church. In early 1950 most Ukrainian children who attended Sacred Heart became “Children of Mary”. Over 100 children attended the monthly afternoon services devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Many children also attended daily May devotions. In 1950s under Father Josaphat Skwarok there were close to 40 altar boys from the school. Sister Servants helped in the church, taught Ukrainian catechism and Ukrainian language and literature at Sacred Heart School from grades one to six. Among those sisters, Sister Modesta devoted many years to teaching pupils. Also Sisters Valerie, Borysa, Theophania, Photynia, Josepha, Nathaneil, Jusintha, Rosa helped in the church and in teaching.

The post WW II immigrants also brought new religious customs and traditions. From 1948 liturgy was celebrated according to the Julian calendar in addition to the Gregorian calendar services. Since bi-calendar services with two Christmases and two Easters in the same church proved confusing, the old calendar parishioners acquired their separate parish. Many parishioners transferred from St Josaphat to the new St George parish, along with a number of cultural and social organizations.

During the fifties the church was always open to everybody and any Ukrainian organization could enter and use the basement facilities. Organizations such as Ukrainian Sadochok, Ukrainian School, Ukrainian language and literature courses, Plast, SUM and others used the basement for their meetings, concerts, celebrations and exhibits. Prof Bucmaniuk also organized the Ukrainian Strilecka Hromada and the Ukrainian Artists Club that held their meetings and exibits within the church basement. Eventually many organizations bought their own premises.

The spiritual father and founder of the Ukrainian Catholic community in Edmonton, and at the same time one of the most outstanding of the Basilian missionaries in Canada, was Rev. Sozont Stephan Dydyk, who dedicated over forty years of his industrious life to the Ukrainian settlers in Canada. He died on December 19, 1950, and was buried in the Basilian cemetery in Chicago.

On Sunday March 3, 1957 the Cathedral was visited by two bishops from Europe, namely Bishop Ivan Buchko from Rome and Bishop Gabriel Bukatko from Yugoslavia. A concert was held in their honor at the Ukrainian National Home.

In 1959 the Cathedral came under the administration of secular priests. In April 1959 Rev. George Kowalsky was appointed the new pastor of St. Josaphat Cathedral with the assistance of Rev. Demetrius Greschuk and Rev. Basil Woloshyn. In the fall of that year a large Youth rally was organized in the Cathedral. Over 400 school children attended the rally.

These new priests provided the spiritual care as their predecessors the Basilian Fathers had done. They were soon joined by a fourth priest, Rev. Peter Kachur, who helped on Sundays. They celebrated four, and then five, Sunday Liturgies and other services. They organized retreats, taught the Ukrainian children in the separate schools and held various parish meetings.

One of the first things acquired for the cathedral after 1959 was a large ornate chandelier, three smaller ones and several other lighting fixtures. Then a new square black marble altar was installed, along with new sanctuary lamps. Also acquired were the Proskomydia and vestment tables, sanctuary chairs and a new carpet.

Thanks should also be given to Gregory Demko who served as the Church cantor until 1961 and to Walter Zinchuk who assumed the duties there after.

Among the more important events in the cathedral parish was the banquet on June 26, 1960 at the Prince of Wales Armouries, initiating the fund-raising drive. Following the fund-raising campaign in 1960, the parish built a large iron fence around the church grounds, new terrazzo stairs for the cathedral, as well as new sidewalks around it, and a new asphalt-covered parking lot. The parish also built a spacious new rectory and renewed and repainted the church exterior. On February 23, 1964, the parish held the blessing of its new rectory.

There was a need of an iconostas in the church. But some feared that the iconostas would cover up the altar and make church services less visible. Prof J Bucmaniuk agreed to design and paint the iconostas, in spite of his illness. A new complete iconostas was installed in the cathedral. Prof. J. Bucmaniuk before his death, managed to paint the icon of the Mother of God. The icons of Christ, St. Josaphat and St. Nicholas, as well as those on the royal and deacon’s doors, were completed by one of his students, Parasia Ivanec. The festal icons and the wood work were done by Ivan Denysenko, an artist from the States.

On December 4, 1966, the parish celebrated the 25th anniversary of the founding of the “Good Will”’ Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League. February 12, 1967 was “Pioneer’s Day” at the cathedral parish, with the living pioneers attending a church service and banquet, and receiving commemorative certificates from Bishop Neil.

Professor Julian Bucmaniuk died December 30, 1967 and was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Edmonton. He was well remembered for the church paintings which stand as a memorial of his work.

Beatitude Patriarch Josyf Cardinal Slipyj

Beatitude Patriarch Josyf Cardinal Slipyj

Of special significance was the visit of His Beatitude, Patriarch Josyf Cardinal Slipyj in June 1968. On Sunday, June 28, he celebrated the Liturgy and preached a sermon at Clarke Stadium in the presence of over 5,000 participants. Numerous priests and bishops were present, including the Orthodox and those of other faiths. The following day he celebrated a Moleben at the Cathedral and blessed the iconostas.

On December 15, 1968, Bishop Neil Savaryn, OSBM, celebrated the 25th anniversary of his episcopal consecration, and his 20th anniversary as bishop of the Edmonton eparchy. All the Ukrainian Catholic bishops of Canada concelebrated the anniversary Liturgy with Bishop Neil. At the anniversary banquet, Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk, CSsR, spoke on the growth of the eparchy under Bishop Neil, who, among other achievements, had brought over sixty Ukrainian priests to Canada from Europe after World War II.

Rev. Philip Shinduk

Rev. Philip Shinduk

In 1968, Rev. Philip Shinduk replaced Rev. Greschuk. In 1970, Rev. Woloshyn was transferred, then in 1971 Rev. Shinduk. The following priests from other Edmonton parishes helped at the cathedral: Frs. Nicholas Diadio, Roman Hankewych, Michael Sopulak, Basil Chopey and George Maley.

In the sixties a need was felt for a language in church services which could be better understood by parishioners. Ukrainian was a language that was not easily understood by many of the younger generation. After the Ecumenical Council, living languages began to replace Latin in Roman Catholic services and Ukrainian replaced Church Slavonic.

Cardinal Slipyj visited St. Josaphat Cathedral again in April, 1973.

Bishop Demetrius Martin Greschuk

Bishop Demetrius Martin Greschuk

On October 3, 1974, Rev. Demetrius Greschuk was consecrated a bishop at St. Josaphat. It was the first episcopal consecration held in this church. Bishop Greschuk, born in Innisfree, Alberta, had been ordained a priest by Bishop Neil in St. Josaphat Cathedral in 1950, and had worked for nine years as an assistant priest in this parish. At his episcopal ordination, Bishop Neil was the main consecrator assisted by Bishops Isidore Borecky and Andrew Roborecki. Of the sixteen bishops present, ten were of the Latin rite. The following year, Bishop Greschuk celebrated the 25th anniversary of his priesthood.

When Bishop Demetrius Greschuk became the auxiliary bishop he felt that English services were necessary in order to keep people in the Ukrainian church. English language liturgy was first celebrated at St Basil’s then introduced to other Ukrainian churches in Edmonton and area.

In the spring of 1975 Rev. Michael Kowalchyk was made an assistant at the cathedral, and after his transfer, Rev. John Makuch helped for a short time. In 1976 Rev. William Hupalo, an Alberta native, was appointed assistant to the pastor.

Rev. Basil Laba, the Vicar-General of the Edmonton eparchy died in October 1976. His friend Patriarch Josef Slipyj arrived to celebrate the funeral services.

Many of the parishioners were aging and a need was felt for a Ukrainian Seniors Home close to the Cathedral. The Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood helped to organize the project for the senior’s home on behalf of the parish. Nine houses and four lots were acquired for future use. The lots to the south of the Cathedral were purchased and construction of a large Seniors Home was initiated. In the fall of 1978, the parish built a residence for the Sisters Servants, and in the spring of 1979 construction began of a 116-room home for senior citizens, as well as an auditorium on the lower level for the use of the parish. The Home was given a Ukrainian name “Verchovyna.” With a Parish Hall close by the use of Ukrainian National Home began to decline. In addition many of the organizations that once had used its facilities had now disbanded or found other facilities.

Rev. George Kowalsky died on May 16, 1980. He was succeeded by Bishop Demetrius Greschuk and Rev. W. Hupalo.

In the early 1980s the walls of the Cathedral began to show signs of deterioration. Paint started to peel from leaking water. Since deterioration of painted surfaces resulted from the the soot of burning candles, further burning of candles as offerings was stopped. Repainting of the walls was considered, however after consulting with Church iconographers it was decided that benzene and bread be used in the restoration. Wasyl Burak, a local artist, was commissioned in 1982 to help with the work. Metal scaffolding were set up and work started on restoration. However, Wasyl Burak became ill during the restoration and died 9 months later. The work had to be completed for Patriarchs Myroslav Lubachiwsky’s visit to Edmonton. Don Hucul continued with the work until it was completed in 1985. Windows in the dome region had to be reinforced. The putty which held the windows together and the wooden frames deteriorated over the years and had to be replaced with new materials.

In the meantime in 1984 the Cathedral had been declared a historical site by Hon. Mary LeMessurier, Minister of Culture for Alberta.

Bishop Neil Savaryn died on January 7, 1986 and was buried at St. Michael cemetery.

When Cardinal Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky arrived in June 1986, the Cathedral was already fully restored. He was welcomed by children and an honor guard of the Brotherhood and Knights of Columbus.

St. Volodymyr portrayed in tile

St. Volodymyr

St Josaphat Cathedral commemorated the millennium of Christianity of Ukraine in 1988 by erecting four mosaics inside the church. A mosaic of Christ was erected on the right side and that of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the left wall. Smaller mosaics of Volodymyr and Olha were placed in the front right and left front regions of the Cathedral. The Cathedral organized a youth rally and held a number of religious seminars dealing with the millenium of Christianity. Pontifical Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Agricom, attended by numerous bishops, priests, sisters and over 3,000 faithful.

Rev. W. Hupalo served as pastor of the Cathedral from 1982. Rev. Basil Woloshyn served as pastor from 1985. In 1987 and 1888 the north side of the church was expanded with new enclosed stairs, a wheelchair access and an elevator. The church grounds were landscaped and the sidewalks were improved. In 1989 Renovations were made inside the church with the laying of a new floor. New pews were provided and new cupboards placed in the sacristy. In 1990 a new roof was provided for the cathedral.

On July 8, 1990 Most Rev. Bishop Demetrius Greschuk died at the age of 66 of a heart attack. Divine Liturgies were celebrated all day Thursday July 12, followed by a prayer service in the evening. Pontifical Divine Liturgy was celebrated the next day officiated by His Grace Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk, assisted by bishops and clergy.

On November 11, 1991 Most Rev. Bishop Myron was appointed the bishop of the Edmonton Eparchy.

On March 21, 1994 Rev. Basil Woloshyn passed away at the age of 69. He served St Josaphat Cathedral from 1959 to 1970, then again from 1985 to 1992. Rev. W. Hupalo returned to St. Josaphat in 1993 and continued after the death of Rev. B. Woloshyn.

Bishop Myron Daciuk died on January 14, 1996. On April 6, 1997 Most Rev. Lawrence Huculak was installed as Bishop of the Edmonton Eparchy.

In 1996 Rev. Myron Pyszcz became the pastor. In 1999 Rev. Michael Planchak became the pastor of the Cathedral and continues with his work until the present day. He was first assisted by Rev. P. Lytwyn and presently Rev. Stepan Wojcichowsky helps with the services.

On November 18, 2001 St Josaphat became the center of activity with the World Youth rally. A large wooden cross was carried through the streets of Edmonton from St Joseph RC Basilica to St Josaphat Cathedral. Members of various Catholic Churches of Edmonton attended this function.

St Josaphat Social Committee works to get people more involved in various activities. Yearly events of the parish are Praznyk of St Josaphat, Kutia during the feast of Jordan and Easter Sviachene. St Josaphat Sadochok meets regularly in the church basement and has its annual St Nicholas concert.

St Josaphat Parish Hall is no longer playing the role it did in the past when the Ukrainian National Home was the center of cultural and social life of the Ukrainian community of Edmonton. The parish hall is used chiefly for banquets and dinners. Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood and the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League still continue to use the church facilities with their monthly meetings in the church basement. Coffee and donuts are also offered to parishioner after the morning Sunday services where people can meet for fellowship. Also Bible studies continue on a weekly basis. The church basement is also available for sales of Easter bread, pyrohy and cabbage rolls.

Parish HallHad it not been for the Ukrainian Churches, the National Halls and other cultural institutions the achievements of Ukrainians in Canada would never have occurred. The church was a lighthouse which guided the faithful through the years of darkness into a brighter future. Much had changed over the past century and we look forward what the next century will bring us.

More History
Cathedral History

4 thoughts on “History of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Parish and the Ukrainian Community in Edmonton

  1. John (Jack) Dakus

    My loving wife Eleanor Waugh who passed away in 2012 and I John (Jack) Dakuswere married by Father Greschuk in 1956.

    May God bless him and all the people of the church.

    Reply
  2. John (Jack) Dakus

    A very beautifully produced web site. I thank all of those who have contributed their time and efforts on this very holy and sacred presentation for all the world to witness and appreciate.

    GOD BLESS YOU

    John (Jack) Dakus and family

    Reply

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