Tuesday 21 May 2024

Postwar Ukrainian Parishes in Winnipeg

While preparing a work on the history of the Ukrainian (Greek-)Catholic Church in Canada from the 1930s to 1950s, I came across a few reports referring to the foundation of a number of parish churches in Winnipeg, some of which are this year celebrating significant anniversaries.

            A third wave of Ukrainian immigrants came to Canada after the Second World War. This necessitated pastoral ministry to areas of the city where Ukrainians were migrating from their original base. The North End already had three churches located very close to one another: Saints Vladimir and Olga (as it was historically known in English, rather than Volodymyr and Olha), Saint Nicholas, and Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary (or Boyd Church). Vladimir and Olga was oldest and smallest building and Saint Nicholas belonged to the Basilian Order.

            When the single Greek-Catholic Ordinariate was divided into three apostolic exarchates, on 3 March 1948, Vladimir and Olga was designated the cathedral church of the Central Exarchate. Since the existing building was unsuitable, its parish priest Father Vasyl Kushnir began to build a large stone and brick edifice modelled after Saint Boniface Cathedral. Saint Nicholas, located directly across the street, also began to build a large church but was only able to complete the basement as a hall. Local Roman Catholic bishops, the Apostolic Delegate, and Auxiliary Bishop Andriy Roboretsky recommended that Saint Nicholas be transferred further north to new suburbs where Canadian Ukrainians were migrating. Nevertheless, Archbishop Ladyka was determined to keep the Basilians at the original location. After fraught negotiations, a new location was agreed upon in 1963 and the current Saint Nicholas was completed in 1966. 

The area further north, where Bishop Roboretsky recommended the Basilians move in 1949, was left without ministry. In 1951, Roboretsky was replaced as auxiliary bishop by Redemptorist Father Maxim Hermaniuk and the Winnipeg Exarchate invited the Redemptorists to begin a mission in West Kildonan. On 17 December 1952, Hermaniuk’s successor as Redemptorist Superior, Father Volodymyr Malanchuk, reported the following to Cardinal Tisserant in Rome:


… One of our Fathers has begun work in Winnipeg, in the area of North Main Street, among our neglected people. We are hoping to establish a new community there together with a new centre of pastoral zeal [parish]…


And on 15 December 1954, Malanchuk gave the following update:


… In Winnipeg, in West Kildonan, our Fathers organized a new parish with 300 families and they have already built a basement which can serve as a temporary church.


An agreement establishing Saint Joseph's Parish and its boundaries was signed by Archbishop Ladyka in Winnipeg and Redemptorist Superior General Gaudreau in Rome on 12 April and 24 May 1955. The first parish priest was Father Joseph Denischuk, CSsR.


On 17 December 1956, Malanchuk wrote to Father Coussa, Assessor (second-in-command) of the Eastern Congregation: 


… In Winnipeg-West Kildonan we have just finished building our monastery next to the parish church. We hope to transfer … the seat of the superior of the vice-province. Winnipeg is situated at the centre of communication between western and eastern Canada and the USA.


This year, Saints Peter and Paul Church Ukrainian Catholic Parish celebrates its 75th Anniversary. Archbishop Vasyliy Ladyka mentioned its foundation and progress to Cardinal Tisserant, in a letter darted 29 December 1949:


Last year we began the erection of a new a new church in St. Boniface, St. Peters and Paul Church, and we are pleased to say that it is nearing completion, and that the upper part will be used for services this January 7th, 1950, for the first time. The basement has been used till now, as it had been completed quite some time ago. The Catholics of the Roman Rite will be using this basement regularly till they erect their own church in this district. Father Constantine Hawryliw, a newly arrived priest from Europe, is very zealously carrying out his work, helping in many ways in the work itself, and in the spiritual development of this district. The average attendance at this new parish is also well over 200.


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