Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 22, 2002
Ukrainians exceed expectations
Nearly 200 attend first Divine Liturgy of new Sherwood Park parish
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Sherwood Park Ukrainian Catholics expected at least 100 people to attend their first Divine Liturgy as a parish April 14. But their dreams were exceeded by almost another 100 as at least 180 people came and worshipped despite heavy rain.
They came from Ardrossan, Fort Saskatchewan, Sherwood Park and Tofield to Father Kenneth Kearns gymnasium, to mark the historic opening liturgy of the parish.
"Just awesome, just glorious. It's beyond our wildest dream. There's a number of people who came that I believe are planning to be parishioners here," exclaimed Bishop-elect David Motiuk, who presided in the liturgy.
"The sun may not be shining outside, but it is certainly shining inside this school gymnasium," Motiuk said as he thanked the people after the celebration.
Steven Chwok, one of the organizers, said, "Father Motiuk is right. The sun is shining in all the people's hearts. And I think that is just reflected by the large number of people who came here today."
Minus the elaborate liturgical environment of a Ukrainian Catholic church, the people still prayed, chanted, sang and celebrated their faith.
A makeshift altar adorned with icons of Jesus and Mary, a choir leading the congregation in singing and chanting, made the people feel at home.
Chwok told the WCR after the liturgy, "I don't think there's a difference where you celebrate a liturgy. I think it's what you make of where you are."
He and his wife have been attending St. Josaphat's Cathedral for many years and they are used to seeing colourful icons, paintings and stained glass windows. In contrast, the Sherwood Park worship hall was spartan.
"But I enjoyed this liturgy today just as much as I enjoyed liturgies at St. Josaphat's," Chwok said.
Monika Hnatiuk, agreed and said "The church is where everybody meets and not necessarily the building."
"We are working quickly to start building our own church. If this is the kind of response we're going to get, then I think it will be a lot quicker than we anticipated."
In his homily, Motiuk said, "Finding God is what life is all about. God is a mystery, not that God is hiding himself from us. He came in search of us first so that we can respond and look for him too."
"As we build our community, may this be a place where God is discovered by people."
For the next two months, Motiuk will preside at Sunday celebrations in the school gym until Bishop Lawrence Huculak appoints a new pastor.
Motiuk was named the first pastor of the parish. A week later he was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Winnipeg Archeparchy. He will be ordained a bishop June 11 in Edmonton.
Organizers said they believe attendance at liturgies will build over time.
Linda Osinchuk, chair of the steering committee, said, "We know that it is something that the community has asked for and the attendance today spoke volumes."
Before April 14, there had been lots of phone calls and inquiries. People were curious and anxious.
"Now that we've gone through the first liturgy it's confirmed that this is here to stay," said a beaming Osinchuk.
Motiuk sees the parish as rooted in young families. I expect family values, family virtues, to flourish in this parish. This is a very young parish that signifies a new springtime, a new life coming into the midst of Sherwood Park and surrounding communities."