Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 12, 2003
Alberta Native appointed bishop
Chmilar becomes Ukrainian Eparchial bishop for Toronto, Eastern Canada
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Pope John Paul has appointed Father Stephen Victor Chmilar as the Ukrainian Eparchial bishop for Toronto and Eastern Canada after accepting the resignation of Bishop Cornelius John Pasichny (for reasons of age) May 3.
"Initially I was surprised and overwhelmed. It was such an emotional, challenging moment," Chmilar, a native of Alberta, told the WCR.
"I was apprehensive in the knowledge of the great responsibility that I would be taking on as eparch. I questioned my own strengths and weaknesses."
He will be ordained on July 23 in Mississauga, Ont. by Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Lviv, Ukraine, Archbishop Michael Bzdel of Winnipeg and Bishop Pasichny.
While humbled, he realized his appointment was the will of God, expressed by the Synod of Ukrainian Bishops and promulgated by the holy father, Pope John Paul.
"I drew strength from my faith and my belief in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I knew that I could also count upon the prayers, cooperation, guidance and friendship of the clergy, faithful and my brothers in the episcopate."
Born in Lamont on May 24, 1945, he is the middle child of the late Steve Chmilar and Alexandra Osinchuk. Chmilar has one brother and three sisters.
"My siblings were filled with great joy in hearing of my appointment. I have been blessed with many good friends who have been a great support to me over the years . . . many of them live in the Edmonton, Mundare, Skaro, Lamont area."
He studied at the University of Ottawa (1966-1968) where he obtained his bachelor's degree in philosophy and subsequently received a bachelor's in theology from St. Paul University (1968-1972).
As a member of the Order of St. Basil the Great, he was ordained a priest by Edmonton Bishop Neil Savaryn, June 11, 1972 and was assigned to different parishes in Western Canada.
In the Eparchy of Edmonton, Chmilar served in Ukrainian parishes in Chipman, Borschiw, Mundare, and St. Basil the Great in Edmonton.
He also served in Ottawa, Vancouver, Hamilton, Ont., Denver, Colo., Buffalo, N.Y., and finally in Mississauga, Ont.
At the time his appointment was announced, Chmilar was the secretary chancellor of the Toronto Eparchy.
The bishop-elect also helped the marriage tribunal in Ottawa and the Ukrainian marriage tribunal in Edmonton. He also served as spiritual director to the novitiate of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate for five years.
He directed and helped Ukrainian Catholic summer camps for children in Ottawa, Edmonton and British Columbia for more than 10 years.
In 1991, he was incardinated into the Ukrainian Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada and was released from his vows as a Basilian.
Edmonton's Bishop Lawrence Huculak said, "He will do a good job in the Eparchy of Toronto. He's got very good pastoral experience. He's done a lot of parish work and is very good in organizing and a very friendly man."
Huculak believes these qualities will serve him well in his episcopal ministry.
Presently, there are 16 Ukrainian Catholic bishops born in Canada, 15 of who came from Western Canada, with 11 of them coming from British Columbia and Alberta.
Chmilar's vision for the Toronto and Eastern Canada eparchy is that it remains a healthy, vibrant Church, and that they continue to be strengthened by the culture, heritage and tradition they have inherited.
He wants this local Church to remain a safe and welcome haven for those who wish to make a new life in Canada.
For him, the most pressing pastoral need of the eparchy is to provide spiritual resources that will inculcate the faith for modern times.
The Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada has 89 diocesan priests, nine religious priests, 29 religious (including both women and men in addition to religious priests) and one lay pastoral minister, serving 41,010 people in 76 parishes and missions.