On the weekend of Sunday June 3, the Eastern Eparchy of the UOCC held its Centennial Celebration of 100 years of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. The celebratory events were organized by members of numerous parishes of the Eastern Eparchy, including members of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The weekend's events included a Family Retreat on Saturday June 2, a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday June 3, followed by a grand Banquet and Celebratory Concert, held at the St. Volodymyr Cultural Centre in Oakville Ontario.
The Family Retreat held on June 2nd was hosted by CYMK Союз Україньскої Молоді Канади (Ukrainian Orthodox Youth). Interesting and informative sessions were led by Fr. Bohdan Hladio, Dr. Roman Yereniuk, Dr. Peter Kondra, and Br. Yuriy Hladio. Following the retreat sessions, an Akathist was led by Fr. Bohdan Hladio with youth singing the responses. In attendance were His Eminence, Metropolitan Yurij, His Grace, Bishop Andriy, and Very Rev. Taras Udod, Chancellor of the UOCC and approximately 40 other attendees.
The Sunday celebration began promptly on Sunday at 9 am with the Hierchical Divine Liturgy at the Chapel of All Saints of Ukraine in Oakville, Ontario - His Eminence, Metropolitan Yurij and His Grace, Bishop Andriy were greeted by the first vice-president of the Eastern Eparchy Bishop’s council, Fr. Volodymyr Makarenko. The Order of St. Andrew provided an honour guard as the hierarchy entered the chapel. A massed choir of singers from nine parishes provided the responses for the Divine Liturgy. The music was organized by Victor Kowalenko. Choir conductors, Zhanna Zinchenko and Oksana Klinovska (children’s choir) conducted this amassed choir through a Liturgy of beauty written by Nestor Olynyk, inspired by the late Fr. Udod, then UOCC consistory chancellor in 1983. The Chapel filled to capacity, with standing room only and an overflow of people were sheltered under canopies outdoors at the south end of the chapel.
Following the Divine Liturgy, participants entered the Rotunda of the St. Volodymyr Cultural Centre. Presentation Displays by numerous parishes were available in many multi media formats for the faithful to visualize the history of individual parishes. The Great Hall was then opened for over 400 guests to enter into a beautifully laden hall of white, butter yellow and a hint of light blue, ocean of tables. The tables laden with fragrant lilies, mums, carnations, and roses together with the dimmed lights, set an ambience to the celebration, a subtle beauty and reverence depicting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.
As the massed choir sang, “Ton Despotin”, the Head Table guests made their way to their places for the Banquet. They were His Eminence, Metropolitan Yurij, His Grace, Bishop Andriy, Bishop Stephan Chmilar, Toronto Eparchial Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Canada, Very Rev. Archpriest Taras Udod, Chancellor of the UOCC, and Dobrodika Dr. Sonia Udod, His Excellency, Dr. Andrii Veselowvskyi, Council-General of Ukraine in Toronto and his wife Maryna Veselovska, Dr. Roman Yereniuk, professor at St. Andrew’s College and Mr. Taras Bahriy, president of the UCC, Toronto Branch. On giant screens adjacent to the head table, was a photo tribute to the many clergy who served the UOCC over the past 100 years. Following the blessing, a delicious luncheon was served by Hanusia Romaniuk and the Troyanda catering team. The banquet organized by Darcia Moskaluk Rutkay and the program led by emcees Natalka Diduch and Dr. Peter Kondra.
The banquet then transitioned into the Celebratory Concert, which featured representative performers from the many parishes of the UOCC Eastern Eparchy, from as far away as Montreal and Ottawa down to Sarnia and all places in between. The concert program was capably led by emcees Subdeacon Franko Diakowsky and his Dobrodyka, Hania Metulynsky. The concert began with the singing of “O Canada”, followed by a myriad of singers, choirs, instrumentalists and dancers including: Choir of Ottawa’s Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, Trio from the church of St. Andrews the Apostle, St. Demetrius Quartet, young pianist Maxym Dmytrovych, young singers Anna and Maria Klymenko, dancer Georgia Huminilowycz, Odessa Ukrainian Dancers, Tsymbaly Duo Roman Tykajlo and Ron Demeda, Vesnianka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, Ensemble Cheremshyna trio, singer Kostyk Sheweli, singer Taras Hiltschuk.
The concert’s grand finale began with performances by the Banduristy of the Eastern Eparchy, an ensemble composed of 23 bandura instrumentalists from the different parishes of the Eastern Eparchy, directed by Ron Demeda. The Bandurysty were then joined by the mass Eastern Eparchy Centennial Choir, composed of over 60 singers and choir members from the many parishes of the Eastern Eparchy. Conducted by Victor Kowalenko, the choir and bandurysty concluded with a performances of Leontovych's Достойно є, Bortniansky's Херувимська пісня № 7, and the specially-written composition of Nestor Olynyk “Століття святкуємо" ("Celebrating Our 100 Years”). The concert was organized and produced by Ron Demeda.
Closing the proceedings with a very positive message from His Eminence, Metropolitan Yurij, the singing of “Dostoyno” and the Ukrainian National Anthem, people exited the Great Hall to continue to enjoy the Multi Media Parish presentations, an Ice Cream Truck and then back into the chapel for a Thanksgiving Moleben after which many of the organizers proceeded to the St. Volodymyr Cemetery with the flowers of the banquet to share with departed loved ones.
The event was very successful according to the faithful who attended. Many volunteers who came from parishes across the Eastern Eparchy both Ontario and Quebec utilized modern technology to contribute to the planning meetings. Our three co-chairs, Fr. Volodymyr Makarenko, Natalka Olynyk Kowalenko and Lesia Skyba coordinated all who headed subcommittees and volunteers alike.
The mutual love and devotion to our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, our faith in Our Lord, Jesus Christ, enabled all to work together as a close knit community, working together for the Glory of God.
Photos: Robert Rutkay