By Jayne L. Buryn, Communications Coordinator, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton

Roman Catholic youth always “seem so organized,” said Alicia Chichak, St. Basil’s youth ministry volunteer at a post-conference debrief, “so to hear they have the same issues was inspiring.”

Six Ukrainian Catholic youth ministry volunteers from the Edmonton Eparchy attended the Canadian Catholic Youth Ministry Network conference held in Winnipeg November 18th to the 20th, 2016:

  • Philip Bird (St. Stephen Protomartyr), Calgary,
  • from Edmonton: Alicia Chichak (St. Basil),
  • Ivanka Galadza (St. Nicholas/Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary),
  • Oksana Maszczak (Holy Eucharist/Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary),
  • Damian Rudiak, Camp Oselia director,
  • Taras Tymkevich (St. George), and
  • Millie Schietzsch – Edmonton Eparchy Youth Director.

The theme of the conference was aligned with Pope Francis’ proclamation of the “Year of Mercy” “Got Mercy”. There was a total of 14 Ukrainian Catholic youth from the west at the conference. (A number are missing from the photo below because of early departure.)


Alicia has been in youth ministry for two years. She was beginning to feel a shortage of new ideas. The conference gave her an opportunity to connect with others in the same ministry and gather new thoughts about how to connect with young people, envision where she would like to see the ministry grow, and lead it there.

On a similar theme, the learning, Ivanka brought back with her that will be useful to continued youth ministry:

“Praying, whether it was casual or in the form of a service, continually reminded us why we are in youth ministry in the first place: to bring young people closer to Jesus. It’s a simple truth, but one that I myself need to be reminded of time and time again.”

“Interaction with other youth throughout the country,” Millie Schietzsch, Director of Youth Ministry for the Eparchy of Edmonton said, “is extremely valuable to generating ideas and engaging young people.

“The Edmonton Eparchy’s evangelization fund has made a huge difference for us,” she said. “Our youth can participate in more events like this one that stimulate interest and enthusiasm among the younger generation even though there may not be local parish funding available. (Millie is also the Eastern Church representative at the Canadian Catholic Youth Ministry Network.)

Conference participant Ivanka Galadza added that: “Attending this conference with a group of other Ukrainian Catholics from across Canada gave us a chance to share a breath of the ‘Eastern lung’ with our Roman Catholic friends. We sang a Moleben with Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, something that most of the conference attendees had never experienced.”


The key message of Ukrainian Catholic youth in the Edmonton Eparchy to parents, teachers, clergy, religious and others is: Experienced or not, let us participate in the activities of our parishes. We will learn and feel like contributing members of the Ukrainian Catholic community.

It doesn’t matter whether young people do things the way older parishioners do them or want youth to, let them try to succeed in their own way, without being criticized.

St. George’s youth minister Taras Tymkevich raised the concern that parishes are not giving youth anything to work on. Event-organizing responsibilities, for example at Camp Oselia, without criticizing the end result may be a great place to start.

”There is a problem of trust, Taras believes, and more experienced parishioners need to develop the trust in their younger counterparts. If the outcome is not quite what was hoped for, that is not nearly as important as enabling the younger generation’s engagement with their churches.

“Youth should be an integral part of every parish community,” agreed Alicia.  “Yet our youth are not equipped enough. We need to empower them to be full members of the parish community, teach them to encounter God in someone else.”

Alicia found three workshops, particularly most valuable for her:

  1. Event-ful Workshop – to know how to structure an event, for example scheduling it, incorporating various elements into the day, advertising and marketing it.
  2. Engaging the XYZ Generation – how to get various generations to connect with each other. The workshop presenter described “adultisms” – what adults envision as youth that may not necessarily be accurate, and “youthisms,” youth’s stereotypical vision of adults.”
  3. SEE, JUDGE, ACT: Laudato Si’, The Pope’s Encyclical on the Environment work – mercy and joy putting faith into action was “pretty impactful”.

The keynote speaker, Dan DeMatte’s mantra – to run on spirit power, not on willpower, has stayed with Alicia.

Run on spirit power, not on willpower. – Dan DeMatte, international speaker and best-selling Catholic author of Holiness Revolution.