Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton celebrates restoration of a spiritual heritage site

A most beautiful, historic Cathedral – interior of St. Josaphat’s Cathedral in Edmonton, Alberta , designated a municipal and provincial historic site.

Photos and article by Jayne L. Buryn, Communications Coordinator, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton

February 22, 2018: “My heart is filled with joy and pride,” Bishop David Motiuk of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton stated, “at the highly successful Cathedral Restoration Project!” Most Rev. Bishop David was speaking at the Day of Gratitude and Rededication celebration on February 11, 2018.  

“The care and love with which the Restoration Committee undertook in overseeing the project is a testimony to their faith in God and in their respect for the pioneers who built the Cathedral.”

Built between 1939 and 1947, in the Byzantine style, St. Josaphat’s Cathedral has been a landmark gracing downtown Edmonton for close to three-quarters of a century. It first gained recognition as a Ukrainian Catholic church, then, in 1948, as the seat of the Holy See’s newly appointed bishop, Most Rev. Neil Savaryn, in the new Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Alberta and British Columbia.

The brick building was designed and built in the form of a cross (cruciform) with seven cupolas, the largest 100 feet high. The cupolas symbolize the Seven Sacraments and the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The church interior has three main parts: the vestibule, the nave which is the main body of the church, and the sanctuary, the altar area.

St. Josaphat’s “has many fond memories for me,” said His Grace Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak. “From the time of their arrival in Edmonton from Ukraine in the 1930’s my mother and her parents were members of St. Josaphat’s parish. She liked to tell me of the days of her youth where so much of her time was spent at the church, for liturgies, organizational meetings, choir practices, and various events, often fundraisers in support of the church.” Some years later the Huculak family moved to Vernon, British Columbia. “Every year at Christmas time we would hear the proclamation of the birth of Christ through Christmas Carols … on a record album of Ukrainian Christmas music that was recorded with a mixed choir and a men’s choir from this church, directed by Fr. Boniface Sloboda.”

In 1984, St. Josaphat’s Cathedral gained provincial historical recognition, and municipal designation as a heritage site and cultural landmark in 2015. With the municipal honour came a grant of a half-million dollars for the restoration of the structure with a final cost estimated to be close to two million dollars to restore the aging structure to its original beauty and functionality.

On Sunday, February 11th, the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton celebrated St. Josaphat’s venerable history, offered prayerful gratitude for the success of the restoration and rededicated the Cathedral. Beginning with a Divine Liturgy concelebrated by His Grace, Most Rev. Lawrence Huculak, Metropolitan of Winnipeg and Canada; His Excellency, Most Rev. David Motiuk, Eparch of Edmonton; Very Rev. Stephen Wojcichowsky, Protosyncellus and Chancellor;  Very Rev. William Hupalo; Rev. Peter Babej, Cathedral Rector; Rev. Andrij Nykyforuk, Cathedral Vice-rector and L. Col. Rev. Terry Cherwick, Chief Air Command Chaplain.

“The Cathedral stands and will continue to stand as a beacon of faith in the heart of the City of Edmonton for years to come,” concluded Bishop David. “May Our Loving Lord bless and reward everyone for their good efforts!”


Prayer of Renewal and Re-Dedication
From “The Great Book of Needs,” an English Trebnyk in four volumes

Prayer of Renewal and Re-Dedication From “The Great Book of Needs,” an English Trebnyk in four volumes O Lord our God, with foreknowledge, You created the world by a single word, and shaped it with ineffable words; You brought down upon it Your invisible Holy Spirit, and filled it with the light of the sun for its restoration; You inspired Moses, who pleased You, to give praise to You for the goodness of Your Creation; and to say that You beheld the light, and saw that it was good, and called it Day. And through Your Son, the Word, You have commanded us to renew our nature by Your Holy Spirit, that, through His gifts, the Righteous may shine like the sun. In Your inexpressible love for mankind and in Your boundless mercy, by Your divine revelation upon Mount Sinai, through the miraculous Bush, the Tent of Testimony, and the truly magnificent Temple of Solomon, Your Creation and the ancient Covenant-an image of the New Covenant-received renewal. Today, we entreat You, and we incline ourselves to You, O Father of the Word, our Lord and God: With merciful eyes, look down upon us sinners, Your unworthy servants, who abide in this house, an image of Heaven upon earth, the boast of the universe, and the true Altar of Your ineffable glory; and send down upon us, upon Your inheritance, Your Most-holy Spirit. And, as the holy prophet David said, “Create in us a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us… and sustain us with Your sovereign Spirit.” Grant victory to Your faithful people against enemies, both visible and invisible, and to us, bestow peace and harmony. To those who worked diligently and with great zeal for the renovation of this temple and to all our benefactors, grant the remission of all sins; fulfill their petitions, which are unto salvation, inspire them to fulfill Your commandments, and renew within them the gifts of Your Holy Spirit that, so that blameless, in all righteousness, they may worship You, the only true God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent, through the prayers of the most-holy Mother of God and of all Your Saints.

A day of gratitude celebrates restoration of historic cathedral