Yorkton- Our Lady of Perpetual Help (St. Mary’s)
Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (St. Mary’s) constructed in Yorkton in 1914 and enlarged in 1954.
YORKTON — The church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is the first church of the parish.
The church was constructed in 1914 in north-westerly Yorkton. Bishop Nicetas Budka visited the parish on several occasions and blessed the church August 23, 1914. In November 11, 1911, and September 22 to 25, 1921, the parish and district faithful welcomed the Servant of God Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky. The parish was visited by the Apostolic Delgate A. Cassulo on October 29, 1927, and June 13, 1935, and by Cardinal Eugene Tisserant in 1947. Beginning in 1951, almost every major event was attended by the Archbishop and Metropolitan Maxime Hermaniuk; also beginning in 1951, the parish was visited annually by Bishop Andrew Roborecki. On July 11, 1968, the parish and monastery of the Redemptorist Fathers hosted Cardinal Patriarch JosyfSlipyj.
The church is a massive structure of steel, concrete and brick constructed in the architectural style of a domed Byzantine cruciform basilica measuring 138 x 72 feet. The dome, which dominates the axis of the intersecting arms, and the vaulted roof are covered with copper sheeting painted silver. Between 1954 and 1955, through the efforts of the Rev. Provincial Volodymyr Malanchuk (the present Bishop of Ukrainian Catholics in France) and Rev. Superior John Bala, CSSR, the eastern wing of the church was extended. The church now has two major entrances, the original south entrance and the new east entrance with a vestibule and choir loft. The original choir loft above the south entrance now serves as a gallery for the faithful; to complement the symmetry of the structure and provide more seating area, a second gallery was constructed in the north wing. The sanctuary and main altar are at the axis of the intersecting arms; the faithful can thus follow the holy services from all areas of the church. In 1964 a large new church patron painting, an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help framed in an original composition of the leaves and fruit of the grapevine, was placed behind the main altar. The new altar, which has twenty-eight carved figurines of saints at its base, was installed in the sanctuary in 1965. The church patron icon was painted by Igor Suhacev who also designed the altar and rizba (wood carving) in the sanctuary; the rizba was executed by Warren Smith of Toronto.
The sanctuary is dominated by the large central dome which rises to a height of fifty-five feet and is supported by four arcades and pilasters. The church was artistically decorated between 1939 and 1941 by Stepan (Stephen) Meush whose work is preserved to date. In decorating the dome, the artist used the oil base fresco technique and chose the theme “Proclamation of the Holy Mother of God in Heaven”: surrounded by one hundred and fifty-seven angels. God the Father bestows His blessing while Christ the King arises from His throne to crown His Holy Mother Mary. An open book at Mary’s feet proclaims the words “Mary the Advocate of Christians, Protectress and Perpetual Help!”, while amidst the numerous angels streamers of sky blue with gold inscriptions repeat the words of the angelic chorus, “Hail Virgin Blessed Queen of heaven, holy, holy, holy, alleluia”. At the center of this composition, the Holy Spirit is represented by a dove whose light irradiates the Heavenly Proclamation. The drum supporting the dome contains twenty-four windows and is decorated with eight life-sized six-winged angels representing the seraphim guardians of heaven. Other paintings in the church were done in the oil on canvas technique and then attached to the walls. (See color photographs.)
In addition to the paintings of S. Meush and I. Suhacev, the church is decorated with twelve prophets portrayed in medallions on the main arcade and other holy images; the four Evangelists on the pendentives were painted in 1920 by Rev. H. Metzger, CSSR.
Prior to the redecoration of the sanctuary, a baldachin towered above the main altar upon which stood the church’s first tabernacle. The baldachin was dismantled while the tabernacle, a replica of the church designed by Brother Idesbald, CSSR, was later installed in the church basement chapel. Presently it is preserved in the church’s main sacristy; this sacristy is entered at the west wall of the north wing and has access to the adjoining monastery structure. Also preserved in this sacristy is the first church patron icon; this icon, painted on wood, is a certified copy of an icon blessed by Pope Benedict XV in 1916 which is presently preserved in the Redemptorist Fathers’ church in Rome.
The church contains wooden pews seating approx. 700 persons, has electrical lighting, central gas heating and plumbing facilities. Its construction became a reality through the efforts of the faithful under the directorship of Rev. Achille Delaere, CSSR, and was constructed by J. Logan of Yorkton.
Immediately near the church the site contains a large intricately designed metal cross on a concrete base, a 1939 memorial commemorating the 950th anniversary of Christianity in Ukraine. A replica grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is in the monastery gardens adjoining the church site. The Redemptorist Fathers’ Monastery and the Redeemer’s Voice Printing Press are west of the church. On the corresponding north and south sides of these premises are the combined convent and Sacred Heart Academy of the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate and a building which earlier served as St. Joseph’s College directed by the Brothers of Christian Schools. The parish hall is a short distance away. This entire complex is known as the Yorkton Mission.
Ukrainian settlement in this area began in 1902 from the villages of Uhryn, Hryhoriv and Chekhiv of the Buchach county. The founding members of this parish were: Hr. Baran, Demko Blahey, Ilyariy Blahey, Prots Brotsky, Vets Ivan, M. Holowachuk, S. Gulka, Andriy Dobko, Nykyta Dobko, Yakiv Zablotsky, Ilyariy Kitliak, P. Kornikovsky, Sam Kramar (Kramer), S. Kramar, Teod. Kuchmeryk, Ivan Marusechka (Marushechka), Teod. Nakonechny, Sofron Olekse-vych, Teod. Oleksevych, Vol. Pavliukh (Pawluck), Hryhoriy Prystai, Yurko Prystai, Martyn Skaluba, Hr. Slugoski, Dan Smukovych, Hr. Snidanko, Ivan Fe-dorowich, Mykh. Khavar (Chavar), Vavryk Shpa-kovsky, S. Yaremko and Demko Yaremko.
The first settlers were spiritually served by the Belgian Redemptorist Fathers who came to Canada to initiate missionary work among the newly resettled Slavic nations. They established the Roman Catholic parish of St. Gerard and helped the parishioners construct the church. Rev. Achille Delaere, CSSR, of Belgian-Flemish origin, studied the Ukrainian language and dedicated himself to missionary work among the Ukrainian settlers. He adopted the Ukrainian Rite in 1906 and thereby became the first Redemptorist of the Ukrainian Rite. Through his efforts a Ukrainian Catholic parish was established in Yorkton on September 7, 1910; a monastery was constructed for the Ukrainian branch of the Redemptorist Fathers in 1913;
a year later, with the assistance of the faithful, the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was constructed. From 1910 to 1913 prior to the construction of the church, holy services for the faithful were held in the chapel of St. Gerard’s Roman Catholic church; this parish chapel was furnished accordingly, including an iconostas, to the requirements of the Ukrainian Rite.
From the earliest period of his work among the Ukrainian people. Rev. A. Delaere foresaw that despite his finest efforts the settlers still longed for their own pastors. Consequently, he arranged for the parish to be visited by Rev. Wasyi Zholdak on March 15, 1904, and by Rev. Nawkraty Kryzanowski, OSBM, on May 5, 1905. Shortly after this four Redemptorist Fathers, with some knowledge of the language, arrived in the parish. And finally, missionary work in Yorkton and the surrounding district was begun by Ukrainian pastors of the Redemptorist Order. These priests. Rev. Joseph Bala, Rev. John Bala, Rev. Stephen Bachtalowsky, Rev. Andrew Rudakevych, Rev. Nicholas Kopiakiwsky, Rev. Gregory Shyshkowych, Rev. Basil Osadec, Rev. Dmytro Hawryliuk, Rev. Roman Chomiak, Rev. Volo-dymyr Korba, Rev. Joseph Korba, Rev. Michael Schudio, Rev. Gregory Shawel, Rev. Stephen J. Shawel, Rev. Stephen S. Shawel, Rev. Michael Ferenz and several younger fathers were ready to face difficulties and discomforts in their mission work across the prairies of Saskatchewan. Their dedication has left a lasting impression on almost every Saskatchewan parish. In their work, the Fathers founded parishes, directed holy missions, which are commemorated by numerous mission crosses placed by the faithful near their churches, and fostered a national consciousness in the educational and organizational lives of the faithful.
Yorkton, as the seat of the Ukrainian branch of the Redemptorist Fathers, became an important pastoral center of the province and continued as such with the development of the Saskatoon Eparchy. Through the efforts of the Fathers, the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate arrived in Yorkton in 1915; by 1917 they had constructed their convent and immediately opened an orphanage and day school. In 1945 the grade one to eight students were moved to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help school (St. Mary’s) while the original structure became the Sacred Heart Academy for girls from grades nine through twelve. The St. Mary’s elementary school was established through the initiative of Rev. Superior Stephen Bachtalowsky and Rev. Gregory Shyshkowych; two additional separate schools have since been established in Yorkton in 1959 and 1967.
Between 1919 and 1920 through the efforts of Rev. Noel Maria Descamps, CSSR, and Rev. Louis Van den Bosch, CSSR, the Toronto Church Extension Society, with monetary assistance from the faithful of the parish and province, constructed a high school for young Ukrainian men. This educational institution was placed under the directorship of the Brothers of Christian Schools and became known as St. Joseph’s College. The first Ukrainian youth to join the Order of Brothers of Christian Schools was Brother S. Methodius. Through his dedicated effort, the Academy and College were permitted by the Department of Education in Saskatchewan to include Ukrainian grammar classes as a compulsory subject in the school curriculum.
In addition to these educational institutions the Redemptorist Fathers were always conscious of the need to educate and foster future pastors and religious of their Order. Because of this concern, a novitiate was established in the monastery as early as 1915; the monastery also served as a Juvenate (minor Seminary) in 1935 and, later between 1940-1947 and 1964-1965, as a major Seminary.
Yorkton also became a major publishing center for the Ukrainian community. In 1922 the Redemptorist Fathers began a printing press in their monastery which continues to flourish to present date. By 1923 they were publishing the monthly journal “Holos Izbavytelia” which was changed to “Holos Spasytelia” in 1933; both versions translate as “Redeemer’s Voice”. This publication is still published under the editorship of Rev. Michael Schudio, CSSR. In 1933 under the direction of Rev. Stephen Semczuk, the Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood of Canada began their monthly publication the “Bulletin”, which later became the bimonthly “Future of the Nation”. In 1935 through the efforts of Rev. Superior Nicholas Kopiakiwsky, CSSR, publication was begun of the “Redeemer’s Voice Calendar”; in 1950 Rev. Provincial Maxime Hermaniuk (present Metropolitan of Canada) initiated publication and became editor of “Logos”, an educational theological quarterly. Additionally, the Redeemer’s Voice printing press publishes thousands of prayer books, sermons and various educational booklets and brochures. By 1954, under guidance of the Very Rev. Provincial Volodymyr Malanchuk and Rev. Stephen J. Shawell, director of the press, a new structure was constructed to accommodate the printing press.
These monumental achievements by the Redemp-torist Fathers of the Yorkton Mission have placed the Yorkton parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the ranks of the Eparchy’s major parishes. As early as 1914, from November 27 to 29, the first diocesan assembly of Ukrainian Catholic clergy in Canada was held here under the directorship of Bishop Nicetas Budka. Beginning in 1916, the Yorkton Mission and the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help became a pilgrimage site; in 1941 the pilgrimage was attended by four thousand Ukrainian pilgrims from Saskatchewan and neighbouring provinces. On October 13 to 15, 1933, for the first time in the province and Eparchy, a solemn religious procession with the Holy Eucharist proceeded through the streets of Yorkton in commemoration of the 1900th anniversary of Christ’s Redemption of humanity. In 1936 and 1937 the parish was the site of impressive national-religious celebrations marking the 950th anniversary of Ukraine’s Baptismal and the Patronage of the Mother of God over the Ukrainian Nation.
This parish was also the setting for the historical Congress of the Ukrainian Catholics in Canada at which time it was resolved to organize all member organizations on a national level; it also hosted numerous conventions of Ukrainian teachers.
The parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was blessed with numerous vocations; originating from this parish and Yorkton are Rev. Theodosius Dobko, OSBM and Rev. Vincent Fedorowich, CSSR and the following Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate: Sr. Ruth Aney, Sr. Patricia Ann Lacey, Sr. Juliana Rosalia Pankowski, Sr. Lucy Maria Prociw, Sr. Laura Elizabeth Prokop, Sr. Benigna Mary Skaluba, Sr. Iris Yawney, Sr. Germaine Olga Bohdan, Sr. Patricia Catherine Hara-symiw and Sr. Polycarp Anna Matwiy. Saskatchewan, particularly the Yorkton district, is noted for its numerous vocations as recorded in the individual parish histories and in the separately compiled lists.
In 1914, during the construction of the church, the parish registered 25 families; in 1941 there were 90 families, 150 children (Prop. Knyha); in 1961 there were 800 souls (Directory), in 1975, 425 families and 160 single members were accounted for. In 1976 the parish was under directorship of: Rev. Superior Paul Maluga, pastor. Rev. Bohdan (Donald) Lukie, assistant pastor, Tony Smysniuk, Mike Zawada, Mike Baran, Joyce Kniaz, Mike Katerinich, Ben Kowal, Anne Dozorec, Martha Greschuk, Blair Ratushniak, Larry Serelo and Lome Sakundiak.
The Ukrainian Catholic parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Yorkton is the seat of the Yorkton pastoral district with satellite parishes at: Bankend, Beaverdale, Foam Lake, Insinger, Jedburgh, Model Farm, Parkerview, Plainview, Sheho, Sheho farms, Tuffnell, Whitesand, Willowbrook and Jaroslaw. Pastors for the district are the Redemptorist Fathers: Rev. Stephen Bachtalowsky, Rev. Roman Chomiak, Rev. Bohdan Lukie, Rev. Paul Maluga – Superior, Rev. Roman Muzychka and Rev. Michael Schudlo.
Yorkton Our Lady Of Perpetual Help Church (St. Mary's)
Yorkton District Parishes - Bulletins & Website
Yorkton Protopresbyterate (Deanery)
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(Res)119 Nicholas Street,
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Ituna, Sacred Heart
(Res) Box 340,
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306-795-2411; Cell: 306-540-5102
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Kelliher, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Administrator, Wynyard District
Ituna, SK S0A 1N0