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This weekend, at our regular Divine Liturgy on Saturday 23 March, we celebrate the Veneration of the Holy Cross.

The Cross is the proof of the love of God. The Cross is the unshaken wall, the unconquered weapon, the Kingdom of virtue.The Cross has torn asunder our mortgage and rendered useless the prison of death. The Cross has opened Paradise; it has admitted the thief and has guided the human race from impending disaster to the Kingdom of God.

—St. John Chrysostom

The Third Sunday of Great Lent and the week that follows are devoted to welcoming the Precious Cross of Christ. This adoration of the Cross does not have a penitential character, but rather the opposite: ‘through the Cross, joy has come to the whole world.’ Having reached the midpoint of Lent, we take refreshment as though at a spiritual oasis, in the shade of the Cross, which is the banner and emblem of Christ’s victory. The Cross is a sign of our joy in Christ’s triumph. The liturgical texts express this joy; all the hymns in praise of the Cross have a victorious note to them.

For us Christians, the Cross of Christ is our boast! Saint Paul said, ‘God forbid that I should boast, except in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.’ To show our pride in the Cross we bring out the Cross into the church for veneration and we adorn the precious Cross with flowers. Thus we express our faith that what might have seemed to be the ‘dead wood’ of the cross became the bearer of Life. Dry wood is highly inflammable, yet in the kondak we sing:

‘... no longer does the flaming sword guard the gates of Eden, for in a strange and glorious way, the Wood of the Cross has put out its flames, and My Saviour, You have stood on the Cross and called out to those in hell: ‘enter again into Paradise.’

The precious Cross remains in the nave of the church for veneration throughout the week, until Friday. Most of us are not able to come to church each day, but of course we can all pray at home. So during this week, as we pray at home be sure to kiss the cross and pray at least ‘To Your Cross, O Master, we bow in veneration, and we glorify Your holy Resurrection!’ Thus we keep the joy of the Cross throughout the week, and we strengthen the link between the family and the church.

[Adapted from content from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton.]

The annual Easter Bazaar, organised by the Ukrainian-Canadian Cultural Society of Nanaimo and the Vesna Ukrainian Dancers, will take place this year on 6 April, in St Michael's parish hall. Please come out to support these two organisations and to stock up on perogies, borscht, cabbage rolls, and other delicious Ukrainian fare for Easter. Doors open at 11:00 AM, and close at 3:00 PM.

Note: On that weekend, to ensure that parishioners and bazaar attendees both have access to parking, our regular Liturgy schedule will be adjusted. There will be no Divine Liturgy on the Saturday, but instead the service will be at 3:00 PM on Sunday 7 April.

On Friday 12 and Saturday 13 April, Fr Joe Ostopowich will conduct a Lenten retreat at St Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic parish. Fr Joe will be available to hear confessions from 6:30PM on the Friday, followed by a Lenten prayer service (7PM) and a talk. Fr Joe will also hear confessions and preach at Divine Liturgy on the Saturday (11AM). To help us prepare mentally and spiritually for the retreat, Fr Joe has provided a series of short reflections on the themes of kindness and forgiveness; these will be published here on Fridays leading up to the retreat date. This is the third.

Everything reacts differently to being hurt. Some people bury their feelings and try to live as if nothing happened. Others go on the attack and seek ways to get even. Still others chew on the hurt and never let it heal. The three healthiest words you can express, however, are ‘I forgive you.’  It is only with these words that you'll be on your way to healing.

Feel the pain and give it a name—resentment, anger, bitterness, hatred. Do not fear these feelings, but don't dwell on them. Once you think you‘re done with the pain, you can move on to forgiveness. That doesn't mean approving or excusing what the person said or did, forgiveness releases your need for revenge. Forgiveness is not for them alone: it is for you as well. Forgiveness is kicking all the negative emotions to the curb. Forgiveness is like a surgery: you cut out the pain that should not be there. Forgiveness is never easy but it is the only way to stop pain.

On Friday 12 and Saturday 13 April, Fr Joe Ostopowich will conduct a Lenten retreat at St Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic parish. Fr Joe will be available to hear confessions from 6:30PM on the Friday, followed by a Lenten prayer service (7PM) and a talk. Fr Joe will also hear confessions and preach at Divine Liturgy on the Saturday (11AM). To help us prepare mentally and spiritually for the retreat, Fr Joe has provided a series of short reflections on the themes of kindness and forgiveness; these will be published here on Fridays leading up to the retreat date. This is the second.

Feeling nervous and inadequate, you walk into a roomful of people and think ‘I'm not good enough; I have nothing to offer.’ This is not true! No one in any room is better than you are—we are all equal. We are uniquely created by God, who blesses us with value and dignity.

We don’t always know what others are facing in life—setbacks, rejection or tragedy. Despite the smiles on their faces, many are worn down, lonely, hurting. Saying four simple, yet powerful words can help ‘I am proud of you.’ These words propel us forward when we know someone is impressed by who we are and what we do.

Make it a point to say to others ‘You amaze me.‘ ‘I am so honoured to know you.’ ‘You are important.’ At little cost to you, this gesture can be a lifeline to someone who feels like they are sinking.

Following the blessing of icons for the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy at the end of our Divine Liturgy this weekend, parish chairperson Victor Uniat presented a plaque, a gift from him and his wife, inscribed with the names of the clergy who have served this parish since its beginning in the 1980s. The plaque will be mounted inside the narthex of the church.

Victor Uniat presents clergy plaque

Since the founding of the parish in June 1984, we have been blessed to be served by these clergy:

Protodeacon Paul Stephaniuk
1984–1986

Father Yaroslav Dowbush
1986–1988

Father Ken Olsen
1988–1989

Fr Bruce Powers
1989–1991

Fr Anthony Stammitti
1992–1995

Fr Volodymyr Dmyterko
1995–1997

Fr Steven Basarab
1998–2000

Fr Volodymyr Bilous
2000–2003

Fr Alan Wizinsky
2003–2010

Fr Brian Kelty
2010–2011

Fr Theo Machinsky
2011–2018

Fr Yuriy Vyshnevskyy
2018–

[Image including Victor Uniat published with his permission.]

On Friday 12 and Saturday 13 April, Fr Joe Ostopowich will conduct a Lenten retreat at St Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic parish. Fr Joe will be available to hear confessions from 6:30PM on the Friday, followed by a Lenten prayer service (7PM) and a talk. Fr Joe will also hear confessions and preach at Divine Liturgy on the Saturday (11AM). To help us prepare mentally and spiritually for the retreat, Fr Joe has provided a series of short reflections on the themes of kindness and forgiveness; these will be published here on Fridays leading up to the retreat date. This is the first.

Kindness takes root when we look beyond ourselves to the needs of others. ‘All about me’ or ‘I am always right’ attitudes cause us to miss opportunities to show kindness:

  • to the exhausted Mom juggling between childcare and work
  • to a stressed out Dad trying to pay bills
  • to the teenager seeking affirmation and help
  • to the lonely person seeking love

All need someone to ask, ’Can I help you?’

As the Great Fast begins, perhaps we can all learn to treat each other well and offer a bit of kindness along the way.

Let’s make it real. Find someone who needs a dose of kindness. Visit those who cannot come to Church. Derail gossip by saying something nice. This list is endless!

Following our regular Divine Liturgy at 11AM on Saturday 19 January, Cynthia Lazaruk from St Nicholas the Wonderworker Ukrainian Catholic parish in Victoria will give a presentation on a 2017 tour of the Holy Land. Please join us for this inspiring look at the locations of the Gospel events.

Church of the Resurrection, Jerusalem.
Church of the Resurrection (Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre), Jerusalem.
[Photo: Jorge Lascar, Creative Commons.]

 

Join us on Saturday 17 November, following our regular Divine Liturgy, for a presentation about the life and legacy of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky OSBM.

Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky

Andrey Sheptytsky was Metropolitan Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church between 1901 and 1944: a tenure that encompassed two world wars and seven different political regimes in Ukraine. According to the historian Jaroslav Pelikan, ‘Arguably, Metropolitan Andriy Sheptytsky was the most influential figure … in the entire history of the Ukrainian Church in the twentieth century.’

Father Yuriy will present a short video (approx. 30 minutes), and lead discussion.

On Saturday 24 November, our parish will commemorate the 85th anniversary of the Holodomor—from морити голодом, ‘to kill by starvation’—, the man-made famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s. The full extent of this famine has only become known in the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the opening of historical archives in Russia and Ukraine. Although the exact number who died as a result of the famine cannot be known, recent scholarship suggests it is between 3.3 and 7.5 million.

At the end of our liturgy on that day, we will have Panakhyda (memorial prayers) for the victims of the Holodomor, and after the service will gather in the parish hall to watch the film Bitter Harvest. This 2017, English-language film mixes romance and action genres to tell the story of the Holodomor through the experience of two young lovers struggling to survive and resist the Bolshevik forced collectivization of farms and starvation policies.

We expect to start the film at about 12:30 PM, and it is 1 hour and 43 minutes long. All are welcome.

The annual Christmas Bazaar, organised by the Ukrainian-Canadian Cultural Society of Nanaimo and the Vesna Ukrainian Dancers, will take place this year on 1 December, in St Michael's parish hall. Please come out to support these two organisations and to stock up on perogies, borscht, and other delicious Ukrainian fare for the holidays. Doors open at 11:00 AM, and close at 3:00 PM.

Note: On that weekend, to ensure that parishioners and bazaar attendees both have access to parking, our regular Liturgy schedule will be adjusted. There will be no Divine Liturgy on the Saturday, but instead the service will be at 3:00 PM on Sunday 2 December.

Announcement of Ukrainian Christmas Bazaar, 1–2 December 2018

Our parish praznyk (the annual celebration of the feastday of our patron, St Michael the Archangel) will take place earlier than usual this year so that as many parishioners as possible can be present. On Saturday 27 October, following the 11AM Divine Liturgy, a parish luncheon will be held in the church hall. Parishioners old and new, visitors, and family members are all welcome.

If you would like to contribute by bringing a dish of food to the meal, that will certainly be appreciated, but there is no obligation. We expect to have plenty of food, including traditional Ukrainian dishes.

Beginning in October, our parish will be hosting a series of monthly presentations and discussions. These will take place after Divine Liturgy on Saturday, and will consist of a short video on a select topic, followed by discussion. The presentation and discussion will be led by Fr Vyshnevskyy, and all are welcome. This is a great opportunity to learn about aspects of Eastern Christianity in general and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in particular.

20 October — Christ our Pascha: the catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
The inaugural session of our new education programme will look at the new catechism, Christ our Pascha, which was published by the synod of the UGCC, first in Ukrainian in 2012, and in English in 2016. The presentation will look at how this catechism differs from the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Churhc and reflects our complementary but distinctive theological and liturgical traditions. As His Beatitude Sviatoslav, head of the UGCC, said in his announcement of the new catechism:

This Catechism witnesses to the intrinsic relation of the Kyivan-Christian tradition to universal Christianity. Thus, this Catechism addresses the UGCC faithful, as well as members of other Churches and all people who are sincerely seeking the Truth.

More information about following sessions will be published as their dates approach:

17 NovemberMetropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky: a gift to humanity.

15 DecemberThe Eastern Catholic Churches: what are they?