Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 25, 2002
In search of Saint Nicholas
St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church keeps faith stories alive
Feast Day - December 6
By TED FITZGERALD
He (St. Nicholas) is said to haveprovided dowries for poor girls slated for a life of prostitution and was a formidable campaigner for social justice.
He's become the archetypical model for Christian charity and has been honoured through the ages and around the world. He's the patron saint of Russia, seamen, children and travellers.
To fully appreciate the long life of the little church, visitors must imagine themselves 100 years ago at a place 83 km due east in the Innisfree district. Here, some of the thousands of turn-of-the-century immigrants settled, calling their new home Buchach after their old country village in Ukraine.
First Masses were celebrated at the home of Harry Hlus in 1905, and irregularly by priests from Mundare in local residences. Within six years, parishioners contributed their money and labour to build the New Buchach Range II Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, also called St. Nicholas. In 1913, a traditional bell tower was added and, as the parish prospered, the important iconostasis was installed.
St. Mary's (or Hlus') church continued to be served by fathers of the Basilian Order until after the Second World War. The first local person to enter the priesthood, Demetrius Greschuk, was ordained in the church in 1950.
A victim of its small size and age, the little structure was eventually replaced by a larger, multi-domed edifice in 1959. The old church was sold in 1975 for one dollar and moved to the village. It's available in perpetuity to Buchach parishioners for religious services.
Alberta's parklands are spotted with hundreds of jewel-like, usually domed, little first and second generation Byzantine churches with histories similar to that of St. Nicholas.
But as times change and people move to the cities, an uncertain future awaits many of them. The grounds of most are accessible to the public. Hlus' church is one of many highlighted in tour guides to historic churches published by Lamont County in the Kalyna Country Tourism area.
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.