Carol Shewchuk, Darcia Moskaluk-Rutkay, Lesia Skyba, Naltalie Olynyk Kowalenko.
After months of long meetings, planning, emails, planning some more, conference calls, sub-committee meetings and even more emails, an amazing and inspiring event came to fruition in Oakville, Ontario. The Centennial Celebration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada was organized by members of numerous parishes of the Eastern Eparchy.
Meetings began in December of 2017. It was decided to make an entire weekend of June 2nd and 3rd as a tribute to the centenary of the establishment of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.
A family retreat was planned for June 2nd. This aspect of the weekend, was hosted by CYMK Союз Україньскої Молоді Канади (Ukrainian Orthodox Youth). Interesting and informative sessions were led by Fr. Bohdan Hladio, Dr. Roman Yereniuk, Dr. Peter Kondra, and Br. Yuriy Hladio. Following the retreat sessions, an Akathist was led by Fr. Bohdan Hladio with youth singing the responses. In attendance were His Eminence, Metropolitan Yurij, His Grace, Bishop Andriy, and Very Rev. Taras Udod, Chancellor of the UOCC and approximately 40 other attendees.
The Sunday celebration began promptly on Sunday at 9 am at the Chapel of All Saints of Ukraine in Oakville, Ontario, as His Eminence, Metropolitan Yurij and His Grace, Bishop Andriy were greeted by the first vice-president of the Eastern Eparchy Bishop’s council, Fr. Volodymyr Makarenko. The Order of St. Andrew provided an honour guard as the hierarchy entered the chapel. A massed choir of singers from nine parishes provided the responses for the Divine Liturgy. The music was organized by Victor Kowalenko. Choir conductors, Zhanna Zinchenko and Oksana Klinovska (children’s choir) conducted this amassed choir through a Liturgy of beauty written by Nestor Olynyk, inspired by the late Fr. Udod, then UOCC consistory chancellor in 1983. The Chapel filled to capacity, with standing room only and an overflow of people were sheltered under canopies outdoors at the south end of the chapel.
Following the Divine Liturgy, participants entered the Rotunda of the St. Volodymyr Cultural Centre. Presentations by numerous parishes were available in many multi media formats for the faithful to visualize the history of individual parishes. The Great Hall was then opened for over 400 guests to enter into a beautifully laden hall of white, butter yellow and a hint of light blue, ocean of tables. The tables laden with fragrant lilies, mums, carnations, and roses together with the dimmed lights, set an ambience to the celebration, a subtle beauty and reverence depicting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.
As the massed choir sang, “Ton Despotin”, the Head Table guests made their way to their places. They were His Eminence, Metropolitan Yurij, His Grace, Bishop Andriy, Bishop Stephan Chmilar, Toronto Eparchial Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Canada, Very Rev. Archpriest Taras Udod, Chancellor of the UOCC, and Dobrodika Dr. Sonia Udod, His Excellency, Dr. Andrii Veselowvskyi, Council-General of Ukraine in Toronto and his wife Maryna Veselovska, Dr. Roman Yereniuk, professor at St. Andrew’s College and Mr. Taras Bahriy, president of the UCC, Toronto Branch. On giant screens adjacent to the head table, was a photo tribute to the many clergy who served the UOCC over the past 100 years. Following the blessing, a delicious luncheon was served by Hanusia Romaniuk and the Troyanda catering team. The banquet organized by Darcia Moskaluk Rutkay and the program led by emcees Natalka Diduch and Dr. Peter Kondra.
The transition from the banquet, into a concert, organized Ron Demeda, began with the singing of “O Canada”. This part of the program was led by emcees Subdeacon Franko Diakowsky and his Dobrodyka, Hania Metulynsky. The concert was varied and fun, consisting of performers from as far away as Montreal and Ottawa down to Sarnia and all places in between. They sang, they danced, they played instruments. The concert’s finale was the mass choir conducted by Victor Kowalenko, joined by the Bandurysty of the Eastern Eparchy singing and playing the composition of Nestor Olynyk “Celebrating Our 100 Years”.
Closing the proceedings with a very positive message from His Eminence, Metropolitan Yurij, the singing of “Dostoyno” and the Ukrainian National Anthem, people exited the Great Hall to continue to enjoy the Multi Media Parish presentations, an Ice Cream Truck and then back into the chapel for a Thanksgiving Moleben after which many of the organizers proceeded to the St. Volodymyr Cemetery with the flowers of the banquet to share with departed loved ones.
The event was very successful according to the faithful who attended. Many volunteers who came from parishes across the Eastern Eparchy both Ontario and Quebec utilized modern technology to contribute to the planning meetings. Our three co-chairs, Fr. Volodymyr Makarenko, Natalka Olynyk Kowalenko and Lesia Skyba coordinated all who headed subcommittees and volunteers alike.
We all look forward to more Centenary Celebrations, Nationally Centenary Sobor of our UOCC in Saskatoon August 9th-12th 2018, Montreal – September 23,2018 , Ottawa -September 30, 2018 and Windsor November 4th, 2018.
Our mutual love and devotion to our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, our faith in Our Lord, Jesus Christ, enabled us to work together as a close knit community, working together for the Glory of God.