Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 9, 2007
Professor compiles Ukrainian memoir
Serge Cipko's book on St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Parish tells the people's story too
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"Bishop Legal and Father Lacombe genuinely cared about Ukrainian Catholics."
- Serge Cipko
Although the blessing of St. Josaphat Church on Nov. 27, 1904 was a breakthrough for Ukrainian Catholics of Edmonton, the church was finished only on the outside. And there was no money available to buy a furnace or coal.
"To remedy this problem, one of the parishioners, Theodore Chichka, mined coal in the banks of the North Saskatchewan River and paid 25 cents to a Frenchman with a team of horses to haul the fuel to the church," relates Cipko.
To finish the interior of the church Dydyk approached a local building supplier who decided to give the materials on credit, charging no interest.
In 1913, as the Ukrainian population increased, the church building was enlarged. In that year too, a monastery-residence was constructed beside the church to house the parish priests and a significant fundraising drive was underway to build a community hall for Ukrainian Catholics.
A landmark event for the single Ukrainian Catholic parish in Edmonton was the visit of Metropolitan Sheptytsky in 1910, who the Edmonton Journal described as "one of the most picturesque figures that has visited Edmonton for a long time."
Another was the appointment of Father Basil Ladyka, pastor of St. Josaphat, as the second Canadian Ukrainian bishop in May 1929, replacing Bishop Nykyta Budka.
By the 1940s, more than 6,000 Ukrainians were living in Edmonton. As many families had moved close to St. Josaphat, parish activity increased.
This called for a new, larger church. That's how the current St. Josaphat Cathedral came into being.
Built between 1939 and 1947, the Byzantine cathedral combines Roman, American Colonial and Renaissance stylings. Seven elaborate domes, a grand entrance and rare, magnificent interior religious murals distinguish the church. Cipko says the cathedral was built by volunteer labour with the excavation of the footings and the basement virtually "dug by the hands of parishioners."
Father Phillip Ruh, an Oblate priest who had studied architecture in Germany and served in Ukraine, designed St. Josaphat, which was designated a cathedral March 3, 1948.
In the book's conclusion, Cipko quotes Planchak saying that up to 2002, the year of St. Josaphat's centennial, priests at the cathedral parish conducted 11,052 baptisms, 5,430 marriages, 4,548 burials and about 50,000 Divine Liturgies.
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