Church of St. Basil the Great constructed 1959-1960 at 1747 Toronto St., Regina.
REGINA — The church of St. Basil the Great is the second church of the parish.
Construction of the first church began in 1925. On October 14, 1928 the General Vicar, Rev. Peter Oleksiw, blessed the church’s cornerstone. A year later on April 28, 1929 Rev. Gregory Shyshkowych, CSSR, celebrated the first divine Liturgy in the church. The church was consecrated September 3, 1939, by Archbishop Basil Ladyka who was assisted by Rev. G. Shyshkowych, Rev. John Bala, CSSR, and Rev. John Olynyk. Also present at this ceremony were representatives from the Latin Rite Diocese, the Provincial Government and over 500 faithful from Regina and district.
The church was a wood constructed cruciform structure with a large central dome and two smaller domes above the front towers. Chief contractors of the construction were Michael Payowsky and Paul Bandaz. In 1938 during the pastorate of Rev. Anthony Fyk, the church was artistically decorated by Stephen Meush. The last Divine Liturgy in the church and the final parish banquet in its basement hall took place on the feastday of the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1960. Later the church was dismantled; in 1965 the site was turned into a parking lot.
Construction of the new church began in 1959 on a site adjacent to the first church. The first Divine Liturgy in the church was celebrated by the parish pastor, Rev. Myroslav Kolodey who was assisted by: Rev. Myron Staciw, DD, the assistant pastor; Rev. Myron Pylyp-chuk and Rev. John Worona, pastors of neighbouring parishes; Rev. C. Gibney, pastor of the Canadian Martyrs Latin Rite parish. Bishop Andrew Roborecki blessed the church in 1961 on the Feast of the Pentecost.
The present church is a massive rectangular structure, 98 x 46 feet, with two frontal towers apexed by domes. The basement is constructed of steel and concrete, the upper structure is predominantly wood with brick facing. Rectangular windows with arched summits feature blue stained glass one-armed crosses- A large metal cross projects above the frontal summit of the roof. The main entrance, with a roof shelter, is reached by a high concrete stairway with wrought iron railings; a large circular window, rosette-like, decorates the wall area above the main entrance.
In the interior, the church contains a sanctuary with the main altar and two adjoining sacristies, the nave, the vestibule and a choir loft which is situated above the vestibule. The church interior was artistically decorated by Theodore Baran in 1965. In the decoration, the artist adapted his style to complement the simplistic architecture of the church. A large standing-pose icon of St. Basil on a gold figured background hangs directly behind the main altar in the sanctuary. Two similar-in-size icons, the Holy Mother of God with the Christ Child and Christ the Teacher installed in the nave on corresponding sides of the sanctuary, are also in the oil on canvas technique. Above the icons, the walls are decorated with symbols which also appear on corresponding sides of the church patron painting and alternate with the four-winged angels on the wall areas between the windows. The slightly vaulted ceiling is painted blue. In the sanctuary a double border of stylistic ornamentation divides the ceiling from the wall areas. The walls which contain the church patron icon and the traditional nave icons are also blue. All remaining wall areas are a pale gold color.
The church contains wooden pews seating approx. 300 persons and has electrical lighting, central gas heating and plumbing. The finished basement contains hall and kitchen facilities.
The plans for the church were designed by a Regina architectural firm. Construction costs, including all furnishings, exceeded $160,000. The parishioners repaid these costs in monthly installments of $1,400, raised through individual monetary contributions, interest free loans and proceeds from parish fund raising projects. All construction details were under the auspices of the church executive, which also served as the construction committee for the new church. This executive, selected at the annual parish meeting of December 14, 1958, was headed by the pastor Rev. Myroslav Kolodey and consisted of: M. Stadnyk, M. Drebot, W. Schabel, S. Zwarych, Z. Wasarab, W. Lestashyn, F. Karapita, C. Genik and M. Hunchak.
Near the church stands the pastor’s residence which was constructed in 1968 during the pastorate of Rev. Mitrat Onufrey Pasichniak and Rev. Rudolph Luzney. It replaced the first rectory purchased in 1942 during the pastorate of Rev. Anthony Fyk. In 1970 and 1971, the parish purchased additional lots near the church; an educational-cultural center for the parish is planned for this site.
Ukrainian settlement in Regina and district began approx. 1890. The first settlers came from Bukovina and Halychyna (Galicia) and received their naturalization papers in Regina as early as 1894 (Jubilee Book: Early Ukrainian Settlement in Regina, Dr. Bohdan Z. Kazy-myra). October 13, 1909, the Provincial Government of Saskatchewan established in Regina a training school for teachers for the newly settled immigrants; the majority of the young students who attended this school were of Ukrainian origin. During this period the Ukrainians in Regina were, most likely, spiritually guided by the missionaries: Rev. Adoney Sabourin and Rev. Nawkraty Kryzanowsky, OSBM, (parish Jubilee Book, 1925-1975). The first efforts to organize a parish in Regina date to 1924; that year four members, Ivan (John) Kucilyma, Andriy (Andrew) Shushelnitsky, Yuriy (George) Huk and Yurko (George) Fugera, met at the home of Ivan Kucilyma and resolved to collect funds for the construction of a church. They were later joined by Illiya Sandulak, Ostap Pukish, Theodore Ciz, Mykhaylo Piwarchuk, Mykhaylo (Michael) Derey, Petro Jacula, Wasyi Ukrainetz and Wasyi (William Scherban (Prop. Knyha). At the initiative of George Huk a general meeting of Ukrainian Catholics was held at the Hungarian Hall October 25, 1925. Ostop Pukish chaired the meeting, Yuriy (George) Diduch acted as secretary while Ivan (John) Fedorowich was the main speaker. Resultant to this meeting, the first church executive was selected consisting of: A Shushelnitsky, W. Scherban, G. Huk, T. Ciz, 0. Pukish. G. Diduch, P. Jacula, W. Ukrainetz and Prokop Korol. On November 22 of the same year, a second general meeting was held at the Hungarian Hall and the newly organized congregation was placed under the patronage of St. Basil the Great. On February 4, 1926 the executive placed a down payment on a two lot site at 1733 Toronto Street; the purchase agreement was signed the following day. In 1928 the parishioners constructed the first parish church. All construction details were under the auspices of the church executive and a provisionary construction committee chosen March 27, 1927, consisting of I. (J.) Sandulak, W. Scherban, H. Chapelsky, M. Derey and A. Jacula. Rev. Philip Ruh, OMI, was invited to advise the parish as to the style and architectural detail of the church. Meanwhile additional members were called to serve on the construction committee and in 1928, during the church construction, a new executive was selected consisting of J. Sandulak, P. Jacula, A. Woronowsky, G. Huk and W. Ukrainetz.
The first Divine Liturgy for the newly organized parish was celebrated on December 25, 1925 by Rev. Wolodymyr Zurawecki of Saskatoon in the present Blessed sacrament Roman Catholic church on Scarth street. From this date up to the construction of the parish’s own church, all holy services were held in this church. In January 1926, for the first time in Regina’s history, Rev. Stephen Fedoronko blessed water on the feast of Jordan; thirty-eight families were then visited with holy water. The first permanent pastor of the parish from 1929 was Rev. Michael Ircha. During the financial crisis between 1932-1936, the parish did not have a permanent pastor but was spiritually served by visiting Redemptorist Fathers from Yorkton. From 1936, the parish was once again assigned a permanent resident pastor. An assistant pastor was assigned to the parish from 1944. Thus from this date Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the church every Sunday.
The first Holy Mission of the parish took place in 1931 under the direction of Rev. Missionary Gregory Shyshkowych, CSSR; the successive Holy Missions were also directed by the Redemptorist Fathers. The last Holy Mission, motivated by the Jubilee celebrations of Ukraine’s Baptismal, was held in the first week of August 1970 under the direction of Rev. Maxime Markiw, OSBM.
During the early settlement period and later as parishioners, the Ukrainian Catholics played an active role in the Ukrainian community of Regina. Initially, they were members of the Tovarystvo (Society) “Pros-vita” which from 1921 began the weekly publication “Ukrainsky Smoloskyp” (Ukrainian Torch). Later, they were members of other nationally and educationally oriented organizations.
The growth of the parish, its religious and cultural-educational life during the first years, was directly influenced by such organizations as: The Society of Queen Olha, reorganized in 1952 into the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada; the Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood of Canada, organized in 1934; the Ukrainian Catholic Youth of Canada, organized in 1939.
Beginning in 1931, the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate contributed to the parish’s growth by preparing children for their First Holy Communion and directing the Ukrainian school. Similarly, Anna Arabsky assisted by her lectures and published educational articles.
The cantors and choir directors also played an important role in this development. The Parish Jubilee Book, published 1975, expresses gratitude to George Huk for 43 years of dedicated service as the cantor and parish organizer; for this service he was awarded an honorary parish membership. Additionally, the Jubilee Book singles out those who assisted the parish as cantors; these were: Dmytro Holinka, Nicholas Su-chenski, Stephen Karapita and George Washchyshyn. Special mention was given to Eva Halapatz for many years ofcantorship and dedicated work with the choir in which she was the soprano soloist (Jubilee Book:
Cantors and Church Choir, Wolodymyr Sagasz). The permanent parish cantor since 1967 has been John Gawdyda who also assumed the directorship of the choir. Earlier choir directors who are mentioned in the Jubilee Book were: Walter Hnatiuk, Sr. Boniface, SMI, Joseph Stadnyk, Nicholas Suchenski, 0. Tsukornyk, Wasyi Tokaryk and Eugene Zarycky. In addition to Eva Halapatz, the name of the late Harry Salamanchuk is also preserved for posterity as the choir’s leading tenor soloist.
Since Regina is the Capital of Saskatchewan and the seat of the Provincial Government, St. Basil’s parish assumes a significant role among the parishes of the Eparchy. In 1910, Regina was visited by the Servant of God, Metropolitan of Halychyna and Archbishop of Lviv, Andrey Sheptytsky. He met with The Honourable Walter Scott, the Premier and Minister of Education of Saskatchewan, celebrated Divine Liturgy at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic school for the Ukrainian faithful of Regina and district, and visited with the Ukrainian students attending the Training School for teachers for foreign languages. Bishop Nicetas Budka visited Regina in 1914. He, too, met with Premier Scott and discussed the appointment of Ukrainian teachers for the Training School and religious instructors for the schools. Bishop Budka visited Regina on three additional occasions prior to 1926; his final visit was in February 1927.
In 1927, Bishop Nicetas Budka, the first Bishop of Ukrainians in Canada, departed for Rome enroute to Lviv. From Lviv he was exiled to Siberia where he met a martyr’s death in 1949.
From 1929, the Bishop of Ukrainians in Canada was Bishop Basil Ladyka who later became Archbishop. He first visited the parish on October 25, 1931, and later in 1939 when he blessed the first parish church. Bishop Assistant Neil Savaryn, OSBM, made episcopal visitations from Winnipeg soon after his consecration; from 1948, he visited Regina as Bishop ofEdmonton.
Since 1951, the parish has been consistently visited by the Bishop of Saskatoon, Bishop Andrew Roborecki the first Bishop of the Eparchy. The capital city parish last hosted the Metropolitan of Canada, Metropolitan Maxime Hermaniuk, on April 30, 1972.
The Regina community was also visited by bishops from abroad. Episcopal visitations were made by:
Bishop Ivan Prasko of Melbourne, Australia in November 1971; the Bishop Confessor Wasyi Vsevolod Welychkowskyj of Lutsk on September 9, 1972; His Beatitude Cardinal Patriarch Josyf Slipyj on April 23, 1973, who was accompanied by Bishop Andrew, Bishop Neil and Rev. Peter Steciuk, his personal secretary;
Bishop Andrew Sapelak of Argentina on June 2, 1974.
In addition to visitations by the esteemed members of the Ukrainian Catholic church hierarchy, St. Basil’s parish of Regina was also visited by prelates of the Roman Catholic church. On November 17, 1966, accompanied by Archbishop M. O’Neil, the Apostolic Delegate Archbishop S. Piniedoli visited the parish and met with Ukrainian clergy and their Bishop Andrew.
The St. Basil’s Ukrainian Catholic parish in Regina was often visited by, and continues to host, distinguished ecclesiastical and secular leaders. For this reason the Servant of God Metropolitan Andrey Shep-tytsky and Bishop Nicetas Budka, the first Ukrainian Bishop of Canada, directed special attention to the parish and the Ukrainian community of Regina. Simi-farly, the first Bishop of the Saskatchewan Eparchy has placed the Regina parish under his personal attention. Bishop Andrew visits the parish several times yearly for various occasions; his visit for the church patron’s feastday has become an annual tradition. In 1975, with Bishop Andrew in attendance, the parish ceremoniously celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding. In honour of this occasion the parishioners published a 300 page book entitled “Conviction — Dedication — Effort”.
In 1965 with Bishop Andrew’s blessings, a second Ukrainian Catholic parish was formed in Regina; this was the St. Athanasius parish whose organizer and first permanent pastor is Rev. Rudolph Luzney.
Although St. Basil’s parish has not had the fortune to date of fostering vocations to the priesthood, it has witnessed the ordinations of two Ukrainian priests. Bishop Andrew bestowed the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon Rev. Basil Obarianyk of Thunder Creek on July 15, 1951. Rev. Leonard Romanow of Glenavon was ordained by Bishop Andrew on December 10, 1972. Both priests perform spiritual duties in the Saskatoon Eparchy: Rev. L. Romanow is the assistant pastor of St. Basil’s parish, Regina. Also at St. Basil’s church, on May 21, 1973, Bishop Andrew bestowed the high sacradotal honour of Mitrat upon the parish’s pastor of many years. Rev. Onufrey Pasichniak.
During the construction period of the first parish church, there were 120 pioneer members of the parish. In 1941 the parish consisted of 60 members with 60 children (Prop. Knyha). In 1975 there were 400 members; this includes 370 families and 30 single members, a total of over 1,700 souls (Parish Jubilee Book). In 1976 the parish was under the directorship of:
Rev. Mitrat Onufrey Pasichniak, pastor. Rev. Leonard Romanow, assistant pastor, Anthony Dusyk, Fred Nakonechny, Honorary Member George Huk, Bohdan Kotyk, Harold Geria, John Buchinski, Matt Kuzyk, Meinard Kauck, Leo Piasta, Philip Moleski, John Gawdyda, Leo Oleskiw, Ted Woloshyn, Harvey Piniak, Peter Saganski, Michael Stadnyk, Lawrence Malawski, Peter P. Worona, Shirley Oleskiw, Steve Lesiuk, Fred Blazeiko, Michael Rohatensky, Brian Blazeiko, Ray Storozyk, Darius Obarianyk, Walter Kiwaluk, Myron Romanow, Paul Gulka, Barry Dusyk, Larry Blazeiko, Sonia Sagasz, Alex Obarianyk, Marianne Gulka, Eva Halapatz, Nick Sydorko, Alex Patrick, George Paslaws-ki, Olga Ficzycz, Mary Malawski and Sophie Patrick.
The Ukrainian Catholic parish of St. Basil the Great is the first parish of Regina, the Provincial Capital.
Regina St. Basil Church
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