Buchach (Buczacz) Catholic Parish of St. Nicholas by George G. Yuskow and Members of the Parish (1984)
Before the church was built, Mass was celebrated at Harry Hlus’ house, one and three quarter miles north-east of the present church. The first mass was celebrated by Father A. Fylypiw O.S.B.M. at Hlus’ house, January 12, 1905. He had replaced Father Platonid Filas, the first missionary who came to Beaver Lake (Mundare) in 1903. Father I. Chrysostom Tymochko came to Mundare on July 10, 1905 and also celebrated Mass -at Hlus’ place.
The building of the first church was first initiated by Peter and Harry Hlus. They called a meeting for the purpose of planning a church. A committee of the following was elected:
President – Peter Hlus
Vice-President- Joseph Bala
Secretary-Treasurer – Dan Kizluk
The church committee went ahead immediately and purchased two acres of land from Roman Pankiw on the northeast corner of S.E. 52-11-W4 for the sum of twenty dollars.
In 1911, they started to build the church on the parcel of land they purchased. The, church was 56 feet by 22 feet, and was built by a carpenter, Brother Jeremiah Yaneshevsky, for the sum of three thousand dollars. It was built of lumber, with siding on the outside, and finished with V-joint boards inside. Originally the church had an “Icon screen” installed in front of the altar, but later it was dismantled. They started with twenty-five members and each member was to donate twenty dollars. The church was completed the same year, and was named Saint Mary’s. By 1912, the membership had risen to ninety-one.
In 1913, a belfry was built which housed the big bell. This bell is rung when special masses, funerals and missions are held.
After the completion of the church, the board saw the need for parking space for vehicles and bought, in 1918 from Nick Scherba, one acre of land across the road from the church for the sum of thirty dollars.
The first mass in the new church was celebrated by Father N. Kryzanowski, O.S.B.M. The St. Mary’s Parish Church was visited by His Excellency, Bishop Nicetas Budka, the first Ukrainian Bishop for Ukrainian Catholic Dioceses in Canada, between 1915 and 1920. In his speech, Bishop Budka praised the church board for installing an ‘Icon screen‘ in the church, a true Greek Catholic style of church. Other bishops who visited St. Mary’s church were:
Bishop Basil Ladyka O.S.B.M. (later named as Archbishop) who visited the church on June 19, 1932, and the present bishop, Neil Savaryn O.S.B.M., who visited in June, 1940.
Other Basilian priests who served St. Mary’s Parish were:
Frs. Basil Ladyka (later Archbishop), I. Tymochko, M. Hura, P. P. Bodnar, S. S. Diakowich, T. Dobko, B. Baranyk, B. Kameneski, M. Vinchetailo, B. Dribnenky, St. Kurylo, M. Sianchuk, P. Hewko, D. Popowich, 0. Ruchkum, V. Shewchuk, S. Dydyk, J. Tymochko, D. Gzgoluk, Neil Savaryn (present Bishop), N. Kohut, J. Cherny, A. Winnyk, I. Lesiuk, B. Hrynchynshyn, E. Bilyk and Myron Daciuk (present Auxiliary Bishop of Winnipeg). All belonged to the Basilian Order (O.S.B.M.). At first, they travelled by train from Mundare to Innisfree, and were picked up at Innis free by one of the parishioners.
After 1938, Fr. M. Pasichnik O.S.B.M. served the parish for about seven years. Then, after the Second World War, in 1945, the Secular priests arrived in Canada from Europe and soon replaced the Basilian priests. They were: Frs. Nicholas Diado, Bohdan Hanushevsky, and Jaroslaw Fedunyk. Since 1956, Fr. Roman Starodub has served the parish till present day (1984). In 1950, a parish residence for the present priest was bought at Innisfree, Lot 3 in block eight. Four parishes bought the residence, namely: St. Nicholas of New Buchach Range 11, St. Vladimir of Ranfurly, St. Nykolaja of Innisfree Village and Holy Cross Church Range 10 of Innisfree.
Father Demetrius Greschuk was the first one from the Buchach area to become a priest. He was ordained at St. Mary’s Church on June 11, 1950. Then on October 13, 1973 he was consecrated as the Auxiliary Bishop for Alberta diocese.
The first church became too old and too small to accommodate all the parishioners, and in 1957, a meeting was called and discussion took place on planning a new church. A second meeting was called on May 25; 1958 and a building committee was chosen. They were:
Mike Lebitko – Chairman, Mike Gizowksi- Secretary, Joe MazurekTreasurer, Mike Zwarich- Director, Steve Pankiw – Director, Jack Tarapaski – Director, John Gizowski – Director.
Action was taken immediately by the elected building committee and construction began on the new large Byzantine style church. Carpenters Stoyko, Wasylik, and Hucal, with volunteered help by members, were in charge of construction. The new church was built behind the old one. It took about ten years to complete, and the new church was named St. Nicholas. It cost approximately thirty thousand dollars.
In 1959, the first parish council of the new church was elected. The executive was: Mike Gizowski – Chairman, Steve Pankiw – Vice Chairman, Jack Tarapaski – Secretary, Jennie Gizowski – Treasurer.
Other presidents from 1960 on, who served on the council were: Mike Lebitko, Bill Dmytriw, Steve Lebitko, and Fred Dulaba.
The cantors (Djaku) who served the parish from 1911 to the present day (1984) were: Paul Chmilar, Dmetro Telesky, George Franko, and Jack Tarapaski.
The old church was sold to the Ukrainian Cultural Association for one dollar. It was moved to the Ukrainian Village Park, near Elk Island Park, on Highway 16.
Today the membership has dropped drastically to twenty-eight in the parish. Church services are held once a month. The pioneers passed away and many of the second generation moved away from the district.
The present parish council (1984) is: President Peter Tarapaski, Vice President – Fred Dulaba, Treasurer – Harry Kotowich, Secretary – Marshall Soroka, Deacon – Fred Dulaba, Cantor – Jack Tarapaski.
The present ladies’ parish council for 1984 is: President – Mary Dulaba, Vice President – Wilma Tarapaski, Secretary-Treasurer – Iris Soroka.
Buchach Catholic Cemeteries by George G. Yuskow B.Ed.
There are three cemeteries within the St. Nicholas parish boundary. Two were established by the first settlers, one is one and one-half miles north of the church, generally referred to as by Uniat’s place. The other, about three and one-half miles south-east of the church, by Tom Greschuk’s place, is named Spring Creek Cemetery. It is still used by people who do not belong to the church. The one north of the church is no longer used. Both of them are located far away from the church and as a result of that a third cemetery was established across the road from the church; it is named St. Peter and Paul. The one acre of land was purchased from Mr. John Tarapacki for this graveyard. It is more central in the church community and close to the church.
The location is very suitable, being level, higher elevation and adjacent to the main road. The gate was made by Blacksmith Mr. Joseph Kravetz in the early 1940’s. In 1978 the improvement to it was made. It was fenced right around and a new ornamental gate was put in.
The members of St. Nicholas parish keep this cemetery in very good condition; grass among the graves is mowed regularly during the summer. The board members of this cemetery are: Fred Dulaba, Andrew Mazurek and Peter Gizowski.