This last Sunday of May I thought it was fitting to share a bit of history about our Icon, Our Lady of Pochaiv. This information comes from our St. Stephen’s History book, although I have paraphrased it to fit this article.
Pochaiv is a holy site located in the Carpathian Mountains where many miracles have occurred through the intercession of the Mother of God. It is the “Lourdes” of Ukraine.
The first miracle at this site took place in 1193. A monk was praying when a pillar of fire appeared to him. When the flame died down, the Blessed Mother of God appeared. She left an imprint of her foot upon the rock and a miraculous spring of water began to flow from the place of the apparition. That water flows to this day. The miracle was taken as a sign that Mount Pochaiv was to be dedicated as a place for monastic life and a monastery was built.
The next miracles to take place were associated with an icon of the Virgin Mary, portrayed as the” Mother of Tender Mercy”. Near the end of the 16th century, a wealthy woman, Lady Hoyska, received the icon from a Greek bishop for her hospitality and generosity. Every so often when she prayed before the icon she noticed an unexplainable glow. Feeling that it might be miraculous she told her nephew, blind from birth, to pray before the icon asking for his sight. His prayers were answered and realizing its significance, Lady Hoyska donated the icon and much of the land surrounding Mount Pochaiv to the monastery. The icon became known as Our Lady of Pochaiv. It is interesting to note that the original icon had a border which included the images of several saints. One of the saints was St. Stephen the Protomartyr.
In 1979, The Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada (UCWLC) officially chose Our Lady of Pochaiv to be the patroness of their organization. St. Stephen’s religious art committee was also inspired by the story of Our Lady of Pochaiv. The committee felt that her icon would be most suitable for creating an intimate devotional space for private prayer and the lighting of vigil candles. In 2008, a creative interpretation of the original Pochaiv icon was commissioned. It was blessed and installed in 2009.
(Donated by Clayton and Linda Woitas Family, “In honour of our parents and grandparents – Bill & Jean Sheremata and Edward & Marie Woitas”.
Laurie Kindrachuk, editor
contact me: email@example.com Cell 403-614-5581
What is a Marian consecration? Why consecrate Canada to Our Lady? In what way are we already consecrated to God
Through the gift of Baptism, we are reborn, both spiritually and sacramentally, and become children of God. The other Sacraments of Christian Initiation, Confirmation and the Eucharist, strengthen and nourish our life of faith, leading us into an even deeper relationship with Christ through his grace. Through each of these Sacraments, we experience the joy of living as sons and daughters dedicated to the Lord, sharing in his divine life, joining ourselves to his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, and receiving the free and empowering help that God gives us to respond to his call to become disciples, temples of the Holy Spirit, and members of his Church. As baptized persons, young and old, we are called to follow Christ through a life of holiness and service, to witness and evangelize, spreading the Kingdom of God in our midst. When we strive to follow Christ, despite our personal and communal weaknesses and failings, we embody more fully our vocation as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people” (1 Peter 2:9). Informed and motivated thus by our God-given identity, as Christians we look daily to the teachings of Christ and his Church to shape how we think, decide, and act. It is not easy to respond to life’s challenges and trials in a manner which is coherent and deeply faithful to Christ. With the unfailing help of the Holy Spirit, however, we can turn to the Father for divine assistance, not only at the crossroads of our life, but at every moment. The first and foremost way of understanding what consecration means comes from the viewpoint of God himself, for it is he who consecrates us before all else. Through Baptism, God makes us his adoptive children and confers on us his very own holiness of life and love. With God’s sanctifying and healing grace, we are made partakers of his Trinitarian life, enabling us to believe in him, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues; we live and act under the promptings and with the gifts of the Holy Spirit; we grow in goodness through the moral virtues. A second, complementary way of understanding consecration is from the viewpoint of our human and Christian experience. Living in holiness and truth, we share in God’s life and love. To consecrate ourselves to him personally, then, is to make a faith-filled decision in which our response to God’s love for us is uniquely our own. A personal act of consecration is a means of further appropriating our Christian calling and continuing to abide in God’s grace. It is the renewal of our first consecration at Baptism in the particular form of a personal pledge, made willingly in faith, to live in more profound communion with Our Lord, committing ourselves to him and his Kingdom with greater fervour. It is an entrustment of our entire being to God, including all that we are and do, that we may belong to him more fully and to open ourselves even more to his grace in our lives. Christ Jesus is the best and prime example of what it means to consecrate oneself to God and to his will.
In 1998 a few St. Stephen’s parishioners got together to play men’s recreational hockey. Headed by Ron Josephs the numbers rose to as many as 20 players within a few short years. In 2003 Ron Bobyn took over and numbers increased to over 40 players ranging in age from 15 to 62. Ron Bobyn became the self-proclaimed “Commish” in 2009 when he re-branded the team to become the Ukrainian Hockey League… now known as “The UHL”.
In 2017 the UHL expanded to 4 teams lead by the Commish and four volunteer team captains. Things have sped up enough to make the “old guys” try to keep up to their younger teammates (their own kids!). Today the UHL has over 50 players (male and female) playing Sunday nights in April, May and June. Many are families with multiple players including 5 Demchuk’s, 5 Ewanchyna’s, 4 Sakundiak’s, 4 Patrician’s and 4 Josephs to name a few!
These players are all playing for fun. The thrill of playing with their son, daughter or dad has become the driving force behind the UHL. One year, three generations of Demchuk’s were on the ice at the same time. Players range in skill from novice to some playing in the WHL and even one for Women’s Team Canada.
The UHL has a “Cossack Kup” that was donated by the church J many years ago (various pots and pans spot-welded together) to form its own trophy equivalent to the Stanley Cup.
Every season, the players also “Pay Per Goal” to donate to charities and or people in need. The UHL is proud to say they have raised over $11,000 to date from its players and have donated it to charity, select parishioners in need of medical assistance, and to the Hike for Life Foundation.
Thank you to Ron (Bobyn) for submitting this article & photos! Who knew that St. Stephen’s has its own NHL … UHL!
Laurie Kindrachuk, editor
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org cell 403-614-5581
♫The bus arrives… we’re ready to go! It’s a chilly day… with a bit of snow.♫
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!
Today you will notice Father Bo and Deacon blessing the Prayer Shawls as they do every 4th Sunday of the month. Today we have an addition to the program, Prayer Squares.
These are smaller and can be tucked discreetly in a pocket or placed under a pillow. Like prayer shawls, prayer squares are knitted or crocheted by volunteers who pray for the persons who will eventually receive them. That is the reason they are called prayers squares.
They are brought to church on the 4th Sunday of the month and placed beneath the icon of St. Stephen where they are blessed by Father. Then they are stored along with presentation bags and notes to recipients explaining what they are. The craft persons have requested that they remain anonymous. The making of a shawl or square is a prayerful act of love for an unknown person - as the person touches it he is reminded that he has been prayed for even if at that moment he is not able to pray for himself.
Anyone can receive: they don’t have to be from St Stephen’s, Ukrainian, Catholic, or even Christian. They are for everyone: women, men, and children. They are often given to people who are unwell but they are also nice for women expecting their first baby, for young people moving away from home, for someone lonely, fearful, or grieving. They carry with them prayers, comfort, and reassurance. Anyone can request a shawl or square for themselves or for someone else. Sometimes people pass their prayer shawl on to someone else in distress and come back to get another one for themselves.
To request a prayer shawl or prayer square contact:
Sharon Oryschak at email@example.com Jean Pashulka at firstname.lastname@example.org Marilyn Comchi at email@example.com
Donations should be made to: St Stephen’s Protomartyr Ukrainian Catholic Church – Prayer Shawl Ministry- and can be made in cash or check and placed in an envelope in the Sunday collection basket.
We started in early 2015 and to date over 160 shawls have been sent out to people.
Laurie Kindrachuk, editor
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org 403-614-5581
In 2015, St. Stephen’s started hosting St. Basil’s parish, an Eastern Catholic Melkite parish, which holds services in Arabic. At the same time, millions of Syrians were being displaced due to conflict in their home country. Against this backdrop, Parish Council decided to sponsor a Syrian family in late 2015.
In Calgary, private sponsorship is handled through Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS). We notified CCIS that we were prepared to make a one-year sponsorship commitment, and soon our adopted family was identified. This was the Oubed family: father Samer, mother Katrin, and two boys George and Hanna. On December 20, 2015 they arrived in Canada, and a day later they arrived in Calgary.
Two parish families volunteered to host the Oubeds until their permanent accommodations were ready, and in the end the Oubeds stayed with Bill and Marilyn Kennedy. The Kennedys were excellent hosts and opened their doors to this new family over the Christmas season and provided new Calgary experiences.
At the same time, a small group of volunteers from the parish secured rental accommodation, furnishings, food and clothing and in January 2016 the Oubeds moved into their new home, and the boys started school. Katrin had no English proficiency, but soon started English classes at CCIS and over the past year has improved tremendously.
Samer started looking for work immediately to further his career in Accounting. Unfortunately he found it very difficult to find something in his area of expertise primarily because of the poor state of Calgary’s economy. He did manage to find minimum wage jobs at Superstore and at Lowe’s, and he did complete his Canadian Accounting certification. In December he finally landed a suitable accounting position at Core-Mark.
CCIS handled 534 refugees in 2015 and 900 in 2016 (of which St. Stephens sponsored 4). Not all were Syrians; about half were Africans from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan. In 2013 two churches had a sponsorship program and that grew to 27 in 2016. St. Stephens has now ended its financial support for this family, however ongoing social support and friendly visits are always welcome.
The picture shows the family on the day they arrived in Calgary along with Father Ephram and Bill and Marilyn Kennedy. The family is very thankful for the all the support provided by St. Stephens.
Every Sunday for the last few weeks, my friend Ambrose Comchi announces that he is selling tickets for Malanka. It sounds Ukrainian enough, BUT what is it?
Malanka is a Ukrainian folk holiday celebrated on January 13th which is New Years Eve in the Julian calendar. Malanka commemorates the feast day of St. Melania. On this night in Ukraine, carollers traditionally went from house to house playing pranks or acting out a small play, with a bachelor dressed in women’s clothing leading the group. Malanka caps off the festivities of the Christmas holidays and is often the last chance to party before the solemn period of Lent.
But like many Ukrainian traditions that existed long before the adoption of Christianity in 988, Malanka was a mythical figure. The celebration of Malanka symbolizes the beginning of Spring being released from captivity and on her arrival bringing the flowers and greenery to life again.
Currently, Ukrainians still follow this tradition with different variations. Events get scheduled at banquet halls to celebrate the occasion. A whole community gathers to enjoy the event and to honour their cultural background. A large dinner and raffle prizes are customary events with dancing after the meal. At midnight the New Year is cheered in and the kolomyjka begins. In the kolomyjka, attendees form a large circle in which individual dancers or small groups perform their favourite steps involving lifts, spins, high kicks, even building human pyramids. The performers attempt to impress and entertain the audience with their skills. To join in all of the fun festivities for MALANKA 2017 see Ambrose Comchi.
Last chance for tickets for MALANKA 2017 Friday January 13 @ ST. STEPHEN'S CULTURAL CENTRE
COCKTAILS 6:00 PM
DINNER 7:00 PM
DANCING AND ENTERTAINMENT TO FOLLOW
Special thanks to Ambrose for his research on this article.
Most Reverend Archbishops and Metropolitans, God-loving Bishops, Very Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics, Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters, in Ukraine and throughout the world
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Today our hearts are filled with lightsome Christmas joy. The eternal God becomes man, so that man might be united and reconciled with Him forever. The Son of God becomes the son of the Virgin from Nazareth and allows Himself to be carried in human arms. For us, Christians, this great and unfathomable Mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God is the key to knowing the nature of God and understanding the history of salvation. The Nativity of Christ shows us who God is and who we are to be in relation to Him and to one another.
Gazing upon the pre-eternal God born in a simple stable cave, the Church sings: “From the bosom of the Father You came forth, O Lover of mankind, and in ineffable humility accepted supernatural poverty. You, O Lord, deigned to dwell in a cave, and, as a child, You, the Creator and Lord, are nursed at the breasts. Therefore, led by a star, the Magi bring You gifts, as to the Lord of creation, and the shepherds and angels wonder and cry out: Glory to God in the highest, Who is now coming in the form of a human being, to be born on earth” (Sunday before Nativity, Matins Praises).
In the birth of His Only-begotten Son among us, the almighty Creator of all that is seen and unseen shows us the reality of the most important and deepest truths on how parents are to regard their own child. He treats His creation as a loving Father, who sees to it that His small child has everything necessary for life and for growth to maturity, in His Image and Likeness. And in the figure of the Most Holy Theotokos, He reveals to us the grandeur of a mother, who shares of her own body in order to bring her child into the world, and with tenderness and dedication watches over it, bestowing upon it the highest efforts of her soul, her spiritual world, full of the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The Only-begotten Son of God, “True God from true God,” in order to fulfill the will of His Father, chose to be conceived and be carried for nine months in a mother’s womb, and to be born in all the frailty and weakness of human nature, “taking on the form of a slave” (see Phil 2:7). He did not merely become a human being, but took upon Himself all human susceptibility and helplessness, and having become an infant, experienced all the difficulties and dangers associated with human life. In Christ Jesus, God has once and for all taken upon himself the fullness of all that we consider “being Human”—the full measure of human existence with all its greatness, but also all its drama.
Based on this divine-human experience, the Almighty knows about that which hurts in me, why I cry or rejoice. He knows each one of us, because until the end of the world He continues to live with humanity and in humanity. He continues to share in every human suffering, He rejoices in every joy of ours, He continues to die in each human death, He continues to be persecuted and dishonored in each person whom the present world rejects and scorns. Christmas is the birth of God in me, the incarnation of the Son of God in my human history, in my life, no matter how trivial and complicated it may seem to me. Thus, my life, whatever the case, acquires meaning, for that, which is personally mine, has forever become personal for Him!
Today Christ the Lord is born in the history of our people and of His holy Church “for our sake and for our salvation.” In this moment of history, which we are experiencing together, He “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to intercede,” as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews (7:25). As then in Bethlehem Jesus needed Mary and Joseph to bring him into the world of mankind, so today He needs us, Christians of the third millennium, so that through our faith we might bring Him into our world, into present history and culture. Even more, we must bring Christ, born today for our salvation, into the corners of our personal, family, and social life. God wants to enter there and be personally present. However, He respects our free will and waits for us to be open to Him.
Therefore, it depends on us: to let Jesus Christ into our lives, or to close the door before Him, as was the case with the inns of Bethlehem. Where God is received, there everything is brought to life and is renewed. Those who open their hearts to Him receive hope, a new sense of their own existence, today and for the future. And on the contrary, where He is rejected or not allowed to enter everything dies, is subject to decay, ruin, and corruption. There one abides under the authority of death, is subject to false gods, violence, and deceit, and in the end loses meaning in his or her life, loses hope in tomorrow, as everything dies before their eyes already today.
So let us celebrate Christ’s Nativity, allowing the Savior who is being born to enter into our intimate selves. Let us wrap Him in the swaddling clothes of our personal, family, and social life. Let us warm Him with our hope, like the wise men who followed the Christmas star. May our everyday life be enlightened by the tender love, that the Divine Babe pours out on us.
In our personal lives let us avoid sin and do good. Let us make an effort, so that our thoughts and life choices be filled with God. Let us live in such a way that our neighbors might see that we are God’s children, following His Word and His Commandments. In difficult times let us not forget that our Lord God loves with His limitless love, which is greater than our mistakes and failures, is stronger than our sins and offenses. Our Creator desires that we always be able to bring this love of His into the lives of others—and to bring it to life in our relationships and in our actions. Christmas is not only an historical event “in the days of Herod, king of Judea” (Lk 1:5). Christmas is a spiritual event of God’s unceasing presence, embodied in every moment and every place, fulfilled for me and in me.
In our family lives, in everything, let us seek to live in love and harmony. Parents, remember that most frequently children create an image of God on the basis of your behavior, your love for one another, your sacrifice, generosity, and joy of life. Teach them to pray with sincerity first of all by your own example. In all remember that your children have been entrusted to you by the very Creator and Heavenly Father, so that you might raise them in love for Him, and for His glory. Especially in these festive days, provide them with wonderful Christmas memories, so they might experience the joy of the Christian life, which allows one to overcome all difficulties and adversities.
In our social life, especially in midst of today’s economic and political challenges, and military conflict, let us remember that God is with us! We are not alone in the pain, suffering, and blood of this war. In His birth our Lord is made incarnate also today, in this historical moment in which we are called to live and die, build and restore, defend our Country from its enemy, and heal the wounds of the past and present. On Christmas Day, it is to us that St. Paul speaks, calling us to holiness of life: “…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:17–19).
As Christians, we are called today to be like the shepherds in the Gospel, who first received the news of the birth of the Savior, to carry it into the world and share it with our neighbors. In fulfilling this Christmas task, let us fill our homes, churches and our whole land with the singing of our ancient koliada-carol. Today let our koliada resound in all Ukraine and wherever there beats a Ukrainian heart! Let the joy of today’s feast fill us with hope of victory, not ours, but Christ’s, who alone can bring together that, which today seems hopelessly divided, both in Ukraine and throughout the world.
Let us carry the newborn Savior in our caroling to all who today are sad or feel lonely. Let us share our joy and Holy Vigil Supper with those who thirst and hunger for justice and human attention. Let us visit those who are imprisoned, who are far from home or travelling. Let us carry the heavenly light of Christmas to the wounded and the suffering. Let us remember in prayer those held captive, those who suffer abuse and call out to God for the light of hope while under fire in the so-called demarcation line, on the occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Let us be united in our thoughts and prayers with our soldiers, who are courageously defending our Christmas. Let us not forget about those, who anxiously await their safe return.
Wherever you may be, Dear Brothers and Sisters, from the youngest to the oldest, whether in Ukraine or abroad, from my sincere heart I wish each of you a tasty kutia, a Christmas full of cheer, and a happy and blessed New Year!
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Given in Kyiv
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,
on the feast of the Holy and All-Praised Apostle Andrew the First-called,
the 13th of December in the 2016th Year of our Lord
On Sunday November 27, 2016 Stacey Bobyn and her fabulous team of UCWLC members pulled off another very successful Snowflake Bazaar! The Church Hall upstairs was jam packed with vendors, yummy food and raffles to be won.The pre-orders for perogies, cabbage rolls, borstch etc. were HUGE! Many THANKS to all the volunteers who helped to make all of the food that was sold by the UCWLC. CONGRATULATIONS LADIES FOR A FABULOUS EVENT!!!
See pictures below: courtesy of Stan Kwasniowski
Here are things that are posted for our parish from our parish. Find out about the most current events, the newest news, the latest church rumours (not gossip, just positive rumours) and more.
Weekend Divine Liturgy Times