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

In the early 1900’s a number of Ukrainian Catholic pioneers had homesteads around the Rycroft, Greenway, and Volyn areas. Feeling the need for spiritual assistance they set about trying to get it.

The first Divine Liturgy was held at the home of Michael Muzyka in 1930 by Fr. Josaphat Tymochko, OSBM, from Mundare. From then on sporadically the services were held at Muzyka’s and Rawlek’s farms, and when possible at Greenway school with the Basilian Fathers Paul Olinsky, Theodozy Dobko, Ambrose Wynnyk and others celebrating. In 1937 a few Greenway settlers got together to discuss the matter of building a church. Michael Muzyka kindly donated an acre of land for the church and cemetery. Having the land, a committee was to be appointed. The parishioners elected the following people: John Rawlek – president, William Werniuk – secretary and Mike Muzyka – treasurer. The labor was voluntary and the construction began under Joe Bilinski, carpenter from Wanham and Stefan Moolyk of Greenway. The cornerstone was blessed on June 7, 1938 and a jar with names of the workers was sealed in cement: Mike Muzyka, William Werniuk, John Rawlek, John Bzowy, Peter Stadnyk, Peter Smakula, Paul Kozel, Yan (John) Yoniec, Fred Boyko, William Boyko, Gordon Rawlek, William Naum, Stefan Moolyk and John Bilinski. The blessing of the church, now called Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, was held on June 8, 1941 by Bishop Basil Ladyka. Walter Bzowy and Emily Werniuk got married on this occasion.

Ukrainian classes and catechetical preparations were held by Fathers Matthew Sianchuk, Ireneus Procenty, Ambrose Wynnyk, Benedict Hrynyshyn, Michael Olenchuk with the help of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate and ladies of the parish. At the end of the two week program there was a Divine Liturgy, confession and an opportunity for the first communion. All these events ended with a big dinner, which everyone enjoyed, young and old. Another big occasion was the blessing of the cemetery in July of 1945. The people organized bazaars and raffles to upkeep the church. Maria Martha Bzowy was preparing the children for the Ukrainian concerts in the church basement. It was indeed a great job on behalf of the community. The Christmas and Easter traditions with all their beauty were preserved as they had been done in Ukraine.

In 1954 the church in Greenway became too small to accommodate the greater number of faithful and it was decided to relocate the church to Rycroft and enlarge the whole structure. The Parish was dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The first couple to be married in the new church were Jim Paish and Claudia Rawlek on June 17, 1956 by Fr. Peter Moysiuk.

The church was served by the Basilian Fathers: Fr. Josaphat Tymochko (1932), Fr. Paul Olinsky (1932-1935), Fr. Theodozy Dobko (1936-1937), Fr. Matthew Sianchuk (1938- ), Fr. Benedict Hrynyshyn (1949-1950).

From the Eparchial clergy: Fr. Nicholas Budz (1950-1951), Fr. Euthymius Melnychuk (1953-1954), Fr. Peter Moysiuk (1956), Fr. Omelian Nakonechny (1957- ), Fr. Bohdan Karychek (1964-1968), Fr. Demetrius Baziuk (1968-1972), Fr. Philip Shinduke (1972-1980), Fr. Richard Zuback (1981-1984), Fr. Benny Ambrose (1985-1992), Fr. William Hupalo (1993-1995), Fr. Ivan Nykyforuk (1996-2003), Fr. Gary Sedgwick (2003-2008).