EDMONTON – St. Josaphat Cathedral Parish – Катедра св. свщм. Йосафата
Location: 10825 – 97 Street, Edmonton. The Basilian Missionaries and the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate arrived in Edmonton from Ukraine in 1902. For the first two years the Oblate Fathers were providing their church premises for Ukrainian Catholic services. The Basilian Fathers were also trying to organize a Parish committee to build a church in the city. Finally the Basilian Fathers took the initiative and borrowed $2,500.00 to start the construction of the church which began on June 26 1904. On the Feast of St. Josaphat, November 27, 1904 Fr. Platonid Filas, Superior of the Basilian Order in Canada, blessed the church. Only the outside of the church was completed by this date. The property on which the church stood, on 97 Street between 108 and 108A Avenue, was incorporated in 1909.
Due to the poor economic situation in Edmonton at that time, the faithful were not able to support the continuing construction of the church. However, thanks to a Protestant Scottish man, D.R. Frayser, the construction material was purchased and the loan was eventually repaid. In 1910, the head of the Ukrainian Catholics in Ukraine, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, who had been attending the Eucharistic Congress in Montreal, came to Edmonton to bless the church.
By 1913 the membership of the faithful had grown so quickly, that the church had to be enlarged. The cost of enlargement was $3,500.00. St. Josaphat Parish became the center of all Ukrainian cultural and religious life in the city and the province.
By the late 1930’s, the church was in need of repair, especially with the leaking of the domes and the roof. On the occasion of the 950 th Anniversary of Christianity in Ukraine the Basilian Fathers, with the Parishioners, decided to build a new church. A beautiful Ukrainian church plan was chosen and designed by Fr. Philip Ruh, an Oblate, who had architectural experience in building Ukrainian Catholic churches in the Prairies. The work began in 1939. Basilian Fathers made great efforts to build a monumental church for the glory of God, to last for many years to come. The main structure was completed in 1947 and the solemn dedication of the church took place on June 3, 1947, with His Eminence Eugene Cardinal Tisserant of Rome officiating, assisted by Most Rev. Neil Savaryn and many clergy. Interior paintings were begun in 1951 by Prof. Bucmaniuk, the same artist who painted the Basilian Parish church in Zhovkva, Ukraine before World War II. In 1968 the cathedral was further enhanced by the construction of an iconostas. Bucmaniuk completed the icon of the Mother of God before he died. His student, Parascevia Ivanec, painted five icons on the lower portion of the iconostas as well as the small icons on the Royal Doors. L. Denysenko completed the iconostas in its entirety.
When Most Rev. Neil Savaryn was appointed the first Ukrainian Catholic Bishop for Alberta and British Columbia in 1948, St. Josaphat’s Church was raised to the status of a cathedral by the Holy See. In 1984, the cathedral was declared a historical site by the Minister of Alberta Culture.
In 1959, Bishop Neil Savaryn, OSBM assigned the following Eparchial clergy to serve at the Cathedral: Very Rev. Mitrat Yuri Kowalsky, a survivor of the concentration camps in Buchenwald and Dachau during World War II, was assigned as a Parish priest. He received two assistants: Fr. Demetrius Greschuk, later Bishop Eparch of Edmonton, and Fr. Basil Woloshyn, an exceptionally gifted priest who was recalled from Lethbridge. After Fr. Kowalsky’s passing, Fr. William Hupalo served the parish for many years. Thanks to him many necessary repairs were completed; a residence for the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate was built; a basement renovation was completed in 1983 with a modern air-conditioned room for the 1400+ artifacts of the UCWL Arts and Crafts Museum.
When Fr. Basil Woloshyn became the pastor, the roof and domes were redone, on the occasion of the Millennium of Christianity in Ukraine in 1988. There was also an addition to install an elevator for the elderly and handicapped.
Due to the deterioration of the front steps and the fact that they were a liability, it was decided in 2005 (under the guidance of Fr. Mihajlo Planchak, the Pastor,) that new steps had to be installed The solid framework underneath, built by the Ukrainian pioneers and missionaries was clearly evident once the surface materials were removed. It took three days to remove the old front steps with heavy machinery and modern technology.
Basilian Fathers who served the community, pastors and assistant pastors: Fr. Sozont Dydyk (1902-1923), Fr. Matthew Hura (1907-1922), Fr. Athanasius Filipiw, Fr. Basil Ladyka (1923-1929); Fr. Sozont Dydyk (1929-1943), Fr. George Zydan (1927-1932), Fr. Paul Hewko, Fr. Methodius Hannas (1936- ); Fr. Juvanalis Slota (1938-1948), Fr. Athanasius Chimy, Fr. Basil Kamenetskyj (1943-1948), Fr. Sebastian Kurylo, Fr. Ireneus Procenty, Fr. Sebastian Shewchuk (1949-1953), Fr. Josaphat Skwarok, Fr. Juvenalis Slota (1938-1948), Fr. Jerome Chimy (1944-1947), Fr. Gregory Chmilar (1947-1949), Fr. Andrew Truch (1949- ); Fr. Eugene Bilyk (1952-1953), Fr. Theodosius Dobko, Fr. Mark Dyrda (1949-1951), Fr. Dionisius Dzygolyk, Fr. Sebastian Kurylo, Fr. Ireneus Procenty, Fr. Myron Daciuk (1953), Fr. Sebastian Shewchuk (1940-1953); Fr. Raphael Melnyk, (1953-1954), Fr. Boniface Sloboda (1953-1958), Fr. Orest Kupranec (1954-1957), Fr. Eugene Kushko, (1957-1959), Fr. Vital Pidskalny (1958-1959).
From 1959, the Eparchial clergy provided the spiritual guidance at the Cathedral: Fr. Yuri Kowalsky (1959-1980), Fr. Demetrius Greschuk (1959-1968), Fr. Peter Kachur (1959-1972; 1975-1982), Fr. Basil Woloshyn (1959-1970; 1985-1993); Fr. Michael Kowalchyk (1974-1975), Fr. William Hupalo (1976-1985; 1992-1996); Bishop Demetrius Greschuk (1984-1990), Fr. Philip Shinduke (1968-1970), Fr. Michael Sopulak (1975-1982), Fr. Myron Pyszcz (1985-1986; 1996-1998), Fr. Rendall Yackimec (1985-1992), Fr. David Motiuk (1994-1996); Bishop Myron Daciuk (1992-1996), Fr. Peter Lytwyn, Fr. Stephen Wojcichowsky (1999-2002) Fr. Bohdan Nahachewsky (2003), Fr. Gregory Faryna (1999-2007, 2008- ), Fr. Mihajlo Planchak (1998-2008), Fr. Michael Kowalchyk (2008-2012); Rt. Rev. William Hupalo [administrator] (2012-).
Ukrainian National Hall
Ukrainian pioneers who arrived in Canada in the early days, brought with them the established Ukrainian organizations. One highly popular organization was “Prosvita” in honor of Fr. Markian Shashkevych, and that organization worked closely with the Parish priest at St. Josaphat. Everyone had the opportunity to enjoy Sunday afternoons in a Ukrainian atmosphere. Ukrainian language classes, presentations, concerts, theatrical exhibitions, youth dances, etc. were part of their activities. Joseph Pryma, was the soul of the life around the “Narodnyi dim” as it was called. However, by the early 1990s’ the hall, being mostly unused and old, was sold. The money was given to support the Eparchial youth camp “Oselia” at Wabamun Lake, as it was established in the constitution of the “Narodnyi dim” in the early days.