HALYCH – St. JOHN the BAPTIST Parish

HALYCH – St. JOHN the BAPTIST Parish – Парафія св. Івана Хрестителя 

Location: Sect. 4 SW corner of the SE quarter, T. 62, R. 25, E=W. of 4 th Meridian, Municipality of Westlock. The site, called Halych, is located 22 km. from Towatinaw and 19 km. from the connecting bus road. The church (40 feet long, 20 feet wide, 20 feet high) was built by Hryhoriy Sen and Semen Oliynyk. In 1932 there were 15 members and 50 children. The written history starts on February 20, 1938, when the Parish council was elected: Hryhoriy Sen (president), Ivan Gerun (secretary), Semen Oliynyk (treasurer). Mr. H. Sen, was the most active member of the community and the first one to invite a Basilian priest Fr. Damascene Popovych for the services, that were held at his home. Thanks to his efforts a hall was bought from the Hetmantsi, a Ukrainian political group who envisioned Ukraine under a Hetman (originally the name was given to the leader of the Cossacks). The people in the district came from many different districts in Ukraine and most probably this was the reason there were so many different viewpoints in the parish structure and social structure.

Basilian fathers who served the community: Fr. Damascene Popovych, Fr. Methodiius Hannas, Fr. Josaphat Tymochko and Fr. Juvenalis Slota.

In 1950 the first Eparchial priest arrived, Fr. Stephen Chabursky, who served until 1952. He was the greatest promoter of the parish, having 38 members and 10 baptisms in 1951. Fr. Peter Petryshyn arrived in December 1952 and was serving until 1969. Fr. Bohdan Karychek arrived already after the church was closed.

Many parishioners during this time left the farms and moved to the greater centers. The founders were very dedicated people but after their passing the community was left in the hands of the communist activists.

On July 7, 1969 the last service was held in the church. By that time the windows were smashed by some destructive elements. The Church hierarchy decided to close the Parish and transfer all the belongings to the church in Athabasca.

Some time later, someone (from the area) decided to burn it down. One of the saddest stories of our churches in Alberta.