By Valerie Aloisio, Holy Eucharist Parish.
Sunlight shone through the painted windows, sprinkling the parishioners with dabs of colour. There is a sense of happy anticipation in the hushed conversations and laughter of those gathered. It has been a long couple of years since family and friends of Holy Eucharist could freely gather and celebrate together in its fullest community. This was to be a special day, as the painted windows, installed over two years ago, would finally be blessed.
On October 23, 2022, we were happy to welcome Bishop David Motiuk to serve Liturgy at Holy Eucharist Parish. After the liturgy the children of our parish introduced us to each of the saints depicted in the widows; who they were and some of their works. Bishop David next blessed each of the windows. Family and friends then gathered in the church auditorium for a delicious chicken dinner prepared by our kitchen workers and helpers. Guest speakers after the dinner entertained and enlightened us. We also had a distinguished guest join us, Mr. Simon Pryma who is a relative to the Martyr Volodymyr Pryjma, one of those portrayed in the parish windows.
Many thanks to all who contributed to making this event such a success and so memorable.
During his speech, Father Mihajlo Planchak gave us a brief history of how Holy Eucharist came to have the painted windows installed. About five years ago, Father was approached by the son of Mrs. Katherine Pisesky. She was of one of the first Holy Eucharist parishioners, a pioneer of our community. Her son wanted to make a donation to the parish beautification in his mother’s memory. Different items were suggested, but it was the inquiry by Mrs. Mary Dascavich of when the windows of the parish were going to be finished that decorated windows were agreed upon. Twelve painted glass windows were purchased by the parish and the Pisesky family donation.
The artist, Anatolly Holub, was commissioned from the Ukraine to create and paint twelve glass panels. Each one depicts a bishop or priest that was a martyr during the communist era in the Ukraine. Only those that were clergy were selected as these paintings would be in the sanctuary, around the altar. It was with the help of Deacon Bohdan Soltys (Lviv, Ukraine) who packed the panels, gained government permission and border clearances the panels were delivered. Parish volunteers then installed the panels. The windows were blessed in early 2019.
These paintings are beautiful and are the inspiration for the windows of the nave of our parish. To continue the project, families of the parish were asked to sponsor a window panel. These sixteen paintings would be saints and martyrs through history, representing the lay people. Although many of these saints were from Ukraine, there is representation from North America and Europe.
Once again, the artist in Ukraine was commissioned and the panels created, delivered, and installed. But a world pandemic delayed the gathering of our parish community to be able to celebrate and honour the saints portrayed in the beautiful painted windows. In 2022, with the lifting of Covid health protocols, the anticipated day when we could bless the painted windows as a whole community was finally realized.
It was a joyful morning, filled with prayer and song. Children reading their practiced lines, Bishop solemnly blessing each panel, and friends meeting and sharing fellowship again.
Saints and Martyrs presented by the Holy Eucharist children
(read by Noah) Welcome to our presentation on the lives of our Saints that now grace our HEUCC windows. My name is Noah and I have grown up in this church. Our HEUCC youth community would like to give you a glimpse, from the eyes of children, into the saints’ lives. We would like to present our saints on my right first and then the saints on my left. Let’s begin with Helena, Mother of St. Constantine.
Helena, Mother of St. Constantine (read by Eva)
Helena, mother of St. Constantine made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and built many churches. She found the cross that was hidden in the ground that Jesus Christ was crucified on.
Mary Magdalene (read by Tia)
Mary Magdalene was very close to Jesus and a devoted follower of Him. She was also close to the apostles. She witnessed His crucifixion and saw Jesus after the resurrection.
Sophia of Milan (read by Siena)
Sophia of Milan is the mother of Saints’ Faith, Hope, and Love. She raised her daughters to not hide their love for Jesus. She mourned her daughters having defended the faith and died shortly after them. She was martyred because of her courage.
Blessed Sister Olympia (read by Thea)
After the rise of communism, Sister Olympia practiced her faith with other nuns in secret. Many attacks from the Communists occurred because of her continued practice She was sent to a labour camp in Siberia where she died a martyr in 2016.
St. Sister Josaphata (read by Mia)
Sister Josaphata heard God’s call to serve as a nun and to serve her Ukrainian community in Ukraine. She served the poor and created educational ministries. God sent many women to serve with her and she created chapters of sisters who gathered around her which is how Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate began.
Sister Laurentia (read by Scarlet & Katerina)
(Scarlet) Sister was born in 1911 in Lviv. She became a nun and was friends with Sister Olympia.
(Katerina) She practiced herbal medicine and taught Sunday school. In 1951 she was arrested with other nuns by the KGB because of their faith and sent to Siberia where she prayed a lot and became sick. She died due to the sickness.
Sister Tarsykia (read by Paityn & Pavle)
(Paityn) When she was young, Blessed Sister Tarsykia would gather flowers to decorate the chapel and save injured creatures. Her mother taught her to see the world as God’s gift.
(Pavle) She joined the convent in 1938 and was close to the frontlines during the Second World War. There was lots of bombing near her convent. The morning she was killed, the sisters expected the priest to come to say liturgy. They heard the church bell ringing and Sister went to open the gate instead it was a soldier. She was killed defending her faith and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
St. Kateri (read by Annie)
Kateri is the Mohawk form of her baptismal name and is the first North American Indigenous person elevated to sainthood. At four years old, her entire family died during the smallpox outbreak. She was baptized at 19 years old and helped Jesuit missionaries talk with her tribe. A miracle in her name happened to a boy with a disease that cured him.
(Noah) Thank you. Now we will move to the other side of the church and begin with St. Joseph.
St. Joseph (read by Emmett)
Saint Joseph is the spouse of Mother Mary and foster dad to Jesus Christ. Our Heavenly Father gave him great honor to care for and protect Jesus and Mary. Joseph was a carpenter and taught his craft to Jesus.
St. Constantine the Great (read by Remi)
St. Constantine the Great became emperor of Rome. He stopped believers of God from being killed or sent to jail. He allowed followers of Christ to pray in Rome which allowed Christianity to spread.
St. Demetrius (read by Maxwell)
St Demetrius was a military saint and he was thought to perform miracles to defend the city in Serbia where he lived from attacks. He was not scared to show his belief in God during a time when people in power were not allowed to have faith. Because of this he went to jail and was killed.
St. George (read by Payton)
St. George was an officer in the army and the son of rich and powerful parents. We see him in icons with the dragon because he saved the princess from the dragon in exchange for the King to be baptized. This also meant that all the people could drink from the spring that the dragon protected. He made the sign of the cross before killing the dragon and because of this the people began to believe in God. Later the king did not like this and ordered St. George to be killed when many believers were being killed because of their faith.
St. Hlib and St. Boris (read by Andrew, Nicholas and Rylan)
(Andrew and Nicholas) St. Hlib and St. Boris were brothers. They became popular in Kievan Rus because they died for their faith.
(Rylan) They died together with calmness and reserve. They did not want to fight with their brother, Prince Sviatopolk for power. They were killed by him because of a power struggle after their dad, Volodomyr the Great died. Their other brother, Yaroslav the Wise fought to avenge their deaths and came to rule in Kievan Rus. They are the first saints to be canonized in Kievan Rus.
Blessed Volodymyr Pryjma (read by Xavier)
Blessed Volodymyr Pryjma had a family and was a cantor at his church in Ukraine. After WWII began, he along with Father Mykola Konrad went to visit a lady that was ill for reconciliation. Members of the village did not want them to go because the war had started and were scared for their safety. They were tortured and killed by Russian KGB for no reason. They were found a week later and in 2001 Pope John Paul the II beatified Blessed Pryjma.
St. Brother Andre of Montreal (read by Shaughnessy)
St. Brother Andre’ of Montreal was orphaned at a young age and tried to work at many jobs. He lived in hopes of his dreams of becoming a priest and was devoted to prayer. His prayers were answered and he went to the Notre Dame College where he welcomed anyone into the church that needed hope. He listened and asked that they pray to St. Joseph. Later he built a chapel and crowds grew. A number of miracles occurred because of his faith in God. He said, “the door to heaven is the heart of Jesus. The key to this door is prayer and love. He was prayerful and devoted to God.” He died happily, knowing that he could be closer to God to help those that prayed for his intercession.
(Noah) This concludes the lives of our saints presented by our HEUCC youth community. On behalf of the youth, I want to thank you our parishioners for your continued support, to our honoured guests, and to everyone for attending today. Some of our guests have distant relations to our saints and some guests have travelled a distance to be with us.
We welcome all of you downstairs for dinner and a short program.