Story and photos by Jayne L. Buryn, Communications Coordinator, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton
On Thursday, December 7, 2017, 236 guests, “the most we’ve ever had!” according to chief event organizer, Andrea Leader, from all walks of life and affiliations shared the evening of socializing, renewing friendships and making new acquaintances all in the spirit of participating in something special: the Eighth Annual Bishop’s Gala.
The Gala is the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton’s annual fundraiser for programs and projects to support the mission of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Alberta to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Bishop David Motiuk introduced this annual event in 2010. Close to $54,000 was raised at the 2017 Gala. Through the generosity of many supporters, both within and outside the Ukrainian Catholic community, approximately $329,000 has now been raised since the galas began.
Each year, Bishop David decides on a theme for the event. This year focus was the value Catholic healthcare brings to Albertans. Honourary chairperson was the Honourable Ed Stelmach, former premier of Alberta and current Chair of the Covenant Health Board of Directors, with Master of Ceremonies duties performed by Boyd Leader.
“The best comment we received on the 2017 event was from Dr. Owen Heisler, Chief Medical Officer for Covenant Health,” noted Andrea. “He was very impressed with how everyone was socializing and visiting with one another, and how everyone seemed to know each other.” What Andrea sees as special about this event “is that it is like a big family party, and new friends are always welcome!”
The galas, a huge undertaking, are organized by the Eparchial Pastoral Centre staff and volunteers. Staff included Andrea Leader, Administrative Assistant; Very Rev. Stephen Wojcichowsky, Chancellor & Protosyncellus (Vicar General); Finance Director, Iryna Laschuk: Millie Schietzsch, Director of Youth Ministry; Eparchial Secretary Olya Nakonechny and Maria Wojcichowsky, Chancery Assistant. Also lending a hand this year were Pat Semeniuk, Sharon Sheptak, Helen Sirman, and Laurence Sirman, who sadly passed away just days before the Gala.
Among numerous other responsibilities, organizers plan a program, locate a venue, call for and receive donations for both silent and live auctions that are held during the Gala, among numerous other responsibilities.
Many young adults also contributed to the success of the evening: Michael Buckler, Alicia Chichak, Solomyia Koberynko, Orest Korcaba, Victoria Kostyniuk, Joyanne Rudiak and Julian and Solomiia-Mariia Savaryn.
Raffle winners were delighted with their prizes of a Mayfield Dinner Theatre for Four, Gardenstone Christmas Greens Planters and an Oilers Fan Pack which included “an autographed star forward #97 Connor McDavid jersey and Row 6 tickets to the January 23, 2018 Buffalo Sabres game. Table centrepieces also went home with lucky winners.
To add to the excitement, Gala participants acquired some exclusive raffle and auction items.
At the live auction, professional auctioneer Dale and Gladys Menzak successfully auctioned off
- golf for six with Bishop David and Ken Lesniak at the Belvedere Golf and Country Club,
- a seven-night “Rocky Mountain Escape” at a Timberline Lodge three-bedroom condo in Canmore,
- Oilers Premium Loge seating for four for the Tampa Bay Lightning game in February,
- an Edmonton Petroleum Golf and Country Club outing for six with Bishop David and Alex Schabel, and
- a cooking lesson for eight with Chef Annand Ollivierre of Red Fife Catering.
As the organizing committee noted: “We are so grateful for the tremendous generosity of guests, donors and organizers alike. May we continue to support Catholic Health Care and all those who care for others in Jesus’ name.”