Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 12, 2004
Unique Hutzul design intrigues
An intricate hand-carved chandelier adorns the interior of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Church
St. Vladimir -- July 15
By TED FITZGERALD
Special to the WCR
Shades of the Old Country! This picturesque church in appearance is quite unlike the familiar, conventional "Prairie" Ukrainian houses of God with their onion domes and detached bell towers that are a feature of the Western Canadian landscape. Graceful and of compelling design, St. Vladimir's serves the Ukrainian Catholics of Red Deer.
Although it's heavily screened by spruce trees at the west end, the Hutzul design of the church makes it an attractive novelty for Central Alberta. The low-level building, on well-kept grounds accented with bright yellow flowering potentillas has the broad overhanging eaves of traditional wooden sanctuaries in far western Ukraine.
A church of many gables
St. Vladimir's exhibits a compound cruciform plan with a complex roof line and many gables. A traditional low, octagonal drum and tent-frame roof with a small open tower and dome complements the subdued profile of the Church. Two towers, a Canadian innovation, identify the western front of St. Vladimir's.
The parish was established in 1968 when an earlier Church was renovated and furnished. Almost immediately it became evident that a larger facility was required and on Aug. 3, 1992, the present Church was consecrated by Bishop Myron Daciuk.
Pastor of St. Vladimir's is Father Julian Bilyj who arrived in Edmonton as a refugee in 1993, married Slavica in 2001 and received his diaconate the following year, becoming administrator of the parish. Nov. 30 of last year saw his Ordination to the priesthood here and appointment as pastor of the Red Deer church. Currently attending the U of A, he commutes to his parish, but will move permanently when he graduates in education next year.
Visitors to St. Vladimir's who encounter parish stalwart Eugene Kulmatycki are in for an inspiring tour of this modern, but traditional house of worship.
Dominating the interior is the elaborate iconostasis, bearing icons written by Marina Savaryn on a hand-crafted wooden frame. Conventional first tier images include saints, the Mother of God and Christ Pantocrator. Twelve festal icons fill the second tier, from the Nativity of Mary to the Protection of the Mother of God. Although crystal is a traditional part of church lighting, here the maker of the iconostasis opted to handcarve an impressive matching wooden chandelier.
Portrayed in colourful icons in the church, "Vladimir the Great - Equal to the Apostles," Grand Prince of Kievan-Rus, was the 988 bringer of Christianity to Ukraine. Although his grandmother, Empress Olga had become a Christian, his father declined to adopt the faith and Vladimir himself ruled with pagan barbarity and cruelty.
Then he experienced conversion, was baptized and married Anne, daughter of the Eastern emperor. Adopting a penitential life style, he sought missionaries from Byzantium and arranged to have his subjects baptized en masse in the Dnieper River at Kiev, thus establishing Christianity permanently in the region. Vladimir became a great church, monastery and school builder and is today remembered in the names of many Canadian churches and institutions.
The welcoming sense of community in his Red Deer church makes the 70-family parish not only a focus for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy daily (preceded by the Rosary) but also attracts participants from Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant denominations, perhaps drawn by the traditional rituals of the Eastern church.
Facilities at the church - a large meeting room, kitchen and servery, are well used by a variety of outside groups that also add life to the community. Parishioners keep in touch with the pulse of St. Vladimir's through regular socials that follow Sunday Mass and are reminded of the contributions of parish functionaries in a series of memorial plaques in the Church.
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