CALGARY – ASSUMPTION of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish

CALGARY – ASSUMPTION of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish – Парафія Успіння Матері Божої

The first Ukrainian church community in the southern part of the Province of Alberta was founded in Calgary. The first Ukrainian settlers coming from Western Ukraine, started to arrive at the end of the 19 th century. In 1905 there were approx. 30-40 families, and their financial situation was very desperate. The first priest to visit the people was Fr. John Zaklynsky in 1901. From 1903 the Basilian Fathers were visiting the faithful on a regular basis. The Liturgies were held in the Roman Catholic Parish of St. Mary and later in St. Anne Roman Catholic Church in the eastern part of town. Some Roman Catholic clergy that were mostly French and 2 of them Polish, provided spiritual help to our people.

In 1910 the Primate of Ukraine, Servant of God the Metropolitan of Lviv, His Grace Andrey Sheptytsky, escorted by Fr. Matthew Hura, OSBM, visited Calgary. He encouraged the faithful to look for their own church building. The church of St. Stephen was built in 1912 in the district of Taxido Park. The first Bishop for the Ukrainian Catholics in Canada, Most Reverend Nykyta Budka donated $1,000.00 towards the building fund. Until 1915 the Roman Catholics were also using our church.

The first permanent priest assigned to Calgary was Fr. Ivan Dumych (1913-1914) and in his time Bishop Nykyta Budka paid his first visit to the parish. During World War I, 1914-1918, Fr. Mykola Shumsky looked after the parish. Fr. Shumsky and some other parishioners were arrested during the war, being citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Ukrainians arriving from Western Ukraine (Halychyna and Bukowyna) were all citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy who was at war with the British Empire. Canadian police closed the church for two full years. Between the two world wars of the 20 th century, when no priests were available, the Basilian Fathers were visiting the parish community. The Roman Catholic Bishop John J. Kidd was very supportive and provided accommodation for the Basilian Fathers. He even suggested, in consultation with Bishop Nykyta Budka, to move the Parish to Riverside, where most of the parishioners were living. The move became a reality for the first Ukrainian Parish of St. Stephen in 1926. In addition the clergy also provided services in Forest Lawn starting in 1926 and continuing for many years.

From the 1930s’ to the 1950s’, Mr. Michael Waretsky took care of the church choir. In 1939 Fr. Jaroslaw Chyz was assigned to Calgary and in a very short time established the Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood of Canada (BUCC), Ladies League (Mariys’ka druzhyna) and the youth organization U.C.Y. (Ukrainian Catholic Youth). At the same time a Ukrainian language program was developed at the parish. A great percentage of the parishioners voted to follow the Gregorian calendar in 1940. In 1944-1945 a church residence was built, however a fire destroyed the inside of the church and most of the church vestments, etc. were lost. It happened when Fr. Michael Syrnyk was the parish pastor.

Church life began to be more visible when a Bishop was assigned for Western Canada and an Exarchate was established, that later on became the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton.

Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate were invited to join the Parish community in 1953 by Fr. Yuri Kowalsky. A new wave of immigrants arrived from Western Europe and joined the parish. St. Stephen was already too small to accommodate all the faithful. Seven blocks north of the church a nice peace of land was purchased for a future church. The construction began in the Marian year 1954, and from 1955 the church basement was used for the services. St. Stephen was sold in 1967 and in the same year the new church building changed the name from St. Stephen to Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fr. Yuri Kowalsky, a survivor of the German Concentration Camps in Auschwitz and Dachau, and a very devoted priest to the Virgin Mary, proposed that the parishioners change the Patronage of the church to the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. In 1959 Fr. Yuri was moved to St. Josaphat Cathedral in Edmonton and Fr. Basil Martynyk continued the final stages of the church construction and later of the church residence.

From 1960 an assistant priest was serving the community. On Sundays three Divine Liturgies were held to better serve the faithful. In 1962 the parish celebrated their Golden jubilee. Ukrainian language instead of the Old Slavonic was introduced in the services in 1966. In time Ukrainian artist Ivan Denysenko designed an iconostasis and painted the inside front part.

In 1967 a new church community was established in south-western Calgary in honor of St. Stephen. Many young families left the parish and joined the new community.

Thanks to priests like Fr. Yuri Kowalsky, Fr. Basil Martynyk, Fr. Basil Woloshyn and Fr. Bill Hupalo, the Parish was always supporting many of the Ukrainian church projects within and outside of Canada.

Basilian Fathers who served the parish between the years 1903-1937: Fr. Mark Dyrda, Fr. Platonid Filas, Fr. Anthony Strotsky, Fr. John Chrysostom Tymochko, Fr. Matthew Hura, Fr. Basil Ladyka, Fr. Damascene Popovych, Fr. Mark Romanowych, Fr. George Zydan, Fr. Basil Kamenetsky, Fr. Josaphat Tymochko, Fr. Sophron Diakowich, Fr. Paul Olinsky, Fr. Theodozy Dobko, Fr. Peter Hewko, Fr. Matthew Sianchuk and Fr. Methodius Hannas

Eparchial clergy that served the community: Fr. John Zaklynsky (1901), Fr. Mykola Shumsky (1915-1916), Fr. A. Czerepaniak (1918-1919), Fr. Hryhorij Vaselewych (1921-1922), Fr. Michael Kuzmak (1923), Fr. Ivan Kolcun (1926), Fr. Ambrose Redkevych (1926-1927), Fr. Anthony Luhovy (1927-1929), Fr. Paul Reshetylo (1937-1938), Fr. Jaroslaw Chyz (1939-1942), Fr. Michael Syrnyk (1942-1944), Fr. Andrew Choronzy (1944-1945), Fr. Nestor Drohomereckyj (1945-1951), Fr. Yuri Kowalsky (1951-1959), Fr. Basil Martynyk (1959-1986), Fr. Paul Lysak (1986-1993), Fr. Basil Woloshyn (1993-1995), Fr. Anton Tarasenko (1995-2000), Fr. William Hupalo (2000-2003), Fr. Serhiy Harahuc (2003- ).