Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 7, 2000
A Ukrainian's love of the faith
Awareness of priest shortage stirred boy to consider road to ordination
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Paul Prystajecky takes his faith seriously. So seriously he quit a well-paying job as an electrical engineer to pursue the priesthood with the Ukrainian Catholic Basilian Fathers.
Prystajecky, 32, is currently in his first year of theology at the Basilian House of Studies in northwest Edmonton. There are 16 students at the two-year-old seminary - 13 of them from Ukraine.
"I want to be a priest for the order," Prystajecky says. "That's been my goal for a long time." He is still five or six years away from that goal but is confident that day will come.
He believes he has what it takes - a deep faith, a good handle on the Ukrainian language and a good academic background. Prystajecky has a bachelor in electrical engineering from the University of Alberta and a bachelor of arts from Christ the King Seminary in Mission, B.C.
Upon finishing his theology, Prystajecky may be sent to Europe for his novitiate. If he is ordained, he may end up running a parish with other Basilians, teaching high school or university, or working in the Basilian publishing house.
For Prystajecky, the call to priesthood is nothing new. "It was almost always in the back of my mind that I had to become a priest," he recalled.
He credits his devoted grandparents and parents, the priests at St. Josaphat's Cathedral and St. Basil Parish, his current parish, as well as the Catholic school system for instilling in him love for the Church and the priesthood.
"Since elementary school I have been reading Gospel literature," he said. In junior high he read the Bible during school breaks and was always first at religious celebrations. He loved religion classes.
His interest in the priesthood started in Grade 5 when a teacher mentioned the shortage of priests. "I thought something has to be done about that." While attending Mass at St. Josaphat he would dream of the day he would be one of the priests.
However, when Prystajecky graduated from high school, he did what many young people do - he followed in his father's footsteps and became an electrical engineer.
He worked in the field for six years until 1995, when he quit to become a priest. "I liked it. It was a well-paying job but it wasn't personally meaningful."
Following his resignation, he spent a couple of weeks at the Basilian monastery in Mundare. For the next two years he did volunteer work for St. John of God Christian Bookstore.
In 1997, he worked for Christero Communications in Lloydminster selling Christian videotapes and children's games.
Finally, the same year, encouraged by a priest he had met at the bookstore, Prystajecky decided to enrol at Christ the King Seminary.
He joined the Basilian House of Studies in September 1998. The house operated at St. Basil's Church for the first year and moved to his current location - 113th Avenue and 130th Street - last August.