Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 23, 2003
Mundare Ukrainian parish celebrates centennial
Annual Sts. Peter and Paul pilgrimage will be time to remember past struggles
Special to the WCR
The last weekend of June will mark a milestone in the history of Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Mundare as parishioners and faithful come together during the annual pilgrimage (vidpust) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the parish.
Under the direction of Father Platonid Filas, pioneer missionary and first superior of the Basilian Fathers Missions in Canada, a home was built 13 km southeast of Mundare, then known as Beaver Lake.
On Sts. Peter and Paul Day, 1903 (July 12 on the Julian calendar), the first liturgy was celebrated there. That date is the reason the Mundare mission was put under the protection and patronage of these two great apostles.
From those pioneer times the annual pilgrimage on Sts. Peter and Paul Day has attracted a vast number of faithful.
There was a desire on the part of the clergy to have a church constructed; the projected cost of $17,000 in 1904 was too much, so a small chapel was constructed and served for the next six years.
In 1909 Father Chrysostom Tymochko called meetings to discuss the building of a church and in July of that year, a decision to proceed was made. Each farmer in attendance pledged $20 and the bishop promised $500. The plans proceeded in 1910 under Father Naucratiy Kryzanowsky.
Originally, the church was to be built next to the monastery - on the farm, but the townspeople wanted the honour of having the church built in Mundare. They threatened to build their own church and get their own priest if they could not get the one planned, thus forcing the decision to locate on the outskirts of the town, on a one-acre parcel of land donated by M. Shewchuk.
The church was to be completed in three months at a cost of $4,500. On Aug. 8, a cornerstone of the church was blessed by the prime minister of Canada, Wilfred Laurier, who at the time was visiting some "more important places" in Alberta. Premier Sifton of Alberta assisted. The prime minister took the silver trowel he used to dab cement on the cornerstone as a souvenir.
On Oct. 23 Metropolitan Andrew Sheptycky, blessed the new building. On Dec. 20 the church was completed, the Sisters Servants decorated it and on Christmas Day (Jan.7, 1911 - Julian calendar) Mundare celebrated the holy day in a new, beautiful and stylish church.
The church saw some expansion and changes to its structure and served the faithful for many decades. In 1950, Father Vital Pidskalny officially proclaimed the campaign for the building fund of a new church. Donations slowly filtered in and the plan was to keep the cost of the church to $325,000. Construction was delayed because of the lack of funds and the need to negotiate with the town for water and sewer hook-up.
The lowest submitted tender in 1966 was $489,143 was an impossible target for Mundare. A meeting in 1968 agreed to plans for a church costing $225,000 ($115,000 was already in the building fund) and Forest Construction was granted the tender to commence building. Architect was Eugene Olekshy.
On May 19, Bishop Neil Savaryn participated in the blessing and sod-turning ceremony.
Total cost of the new church was $178,000.
On a bright frosty night, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, Mundare bid farewell to its old, wooden church. For the last time carols were sung during the midnight services in the old church, and amid the joyful pealings of the bells, the holy sacraments were transferred to the new church. The superior Father Pidskalny, pastor and organizer of the new church, celebrated midnight Mass.
Today the octagonal church serves as the centre of worship for Ukrainian Catholics of Mundare and area. As many rural churches reduce the number of liturgies celebrated or close down completely, many of their parishioners journey to Mundare's Sts. Peter and Paul Church.
Over the years, the events of the church were closely intertwined with the activities of the Basilian Fathers and the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate.
This is an exciting year for the Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Mundare. In recognition of the centenary of the parish, a planning committee has been diligently preparing a host of activities to be held during the annual vidpust weekend, June 26 to 29.
The solemn Divine Liturgy celebrated on Sunday, June 29 will be the culmination of the centennial activities for the Basilian Fathers, the Sisters Servants and the parish, as all three have observed their 100th anniversaries within the past year.
All readers are asked to look for further information in posters, brochures and ads placed in communities throughout the area. A cordial invitation is extended to everyone to join any or all of the activities.