The occasion was the Knights of Columbus, Alberta and N.W.T. Annual State Convention, being held in Edmonton, the last weekend of April. The K of C Convention always begins with a Mass on the evening before the actual meetings and this year Bishop David was invited to celebrate the Ukrainian Rite Liturgy, and all in the English language.
St. Stephen’s choir was invited to sing the responses, the invitation was accepted, and 35 singers answered the call. Interestingly, three of the pastors assisting Bishop David had all served in our St. Stephen’s Parish at one time.
The bus trip was a very quick one, leaving Calgary just after lunch on April 28th and back in Calgary just before midnight that same day and left many of the choir passengers wondering aloud …”What just happened?”
As we reflect, we smile as we say that our music ministry has sung the world over … be it The Middle East, Eastern Europe, the South Pacific and the provinces of B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and of course Alberta. The experiences and memories linger always….each unique, each special. This trip to Edmonton was no different. As we boarded the bus in Calgary, we were introduced to our bus driver…Myron…a Ukrainian man who prays at the Assumption BVM church. What are the chances? We immediately feel in very good hands and at peace. (And we made a good friend.)
Arriving at the Edmonton Westin, the venue for this Convention, we were met in the foyer and greeted by none other than Fr. Rendy, Fr. Slawko, Fr. Peter and Bishop David. What a surprise! We were overwhelmed by their welcome and their love.
The Westin Ballroom was retrofitted with chairs and a make-shift altar that really did transform the space into a church. We took our places as liturgy was about to begin. The room was filled with Knights and guests, mostly non-Ukrainian. A brief explanation was made about the Ukrainian Rite Liturgy and the congregation was invited to sing the responses with the choir as best as they could…and they did… and now it was our turn to be overwhelmed. The worshippers sang with their hearts and it was beautiful. It mattered not the language or the rite, it was the celebration of the Eucharist that was the focus. In his very brief homily, Bishop sincerely and graciously acknowledged the invite by the K of C. His significant message to everyone attending was simply stated … ”Like the myrrh-bearing women… go and spread the good news… do not be afraid!”
And soon our formal involvement had ended. It was an amazing festive atmosphere as we stopped to take pictures with priests, Sister Laura and friends… and even with Pope Francis (he looked so real).
We left the venue walking on air and our return bus trip was an opportunity to bond further and to share, to sing and to celebrate. When we disembarked in Calgary, our minds buzzed with many cherished memories and our hearts were filled with humble gratitude.
One could ask, why would the choir accept this invitation? The answer would be very simple. We were inspired to travel to Edmonton to sing the liturgy with Bishop David in an effort “to spread the good news!” And we did!
We are so grateful to Bill Lewchuk, a good friend and a local K of C member, for orchestrating all the details of this trip and to all the Knights for their never-ending support and for their service to God and community. We are grateful to our choir director who always encourages us to do, and to be. And we are grateful to God for a wonderful opportunity.
Thank you Pat Ochitwa for sharing your musings of this exciting trip!
Stan K thanks for the photos!