by Liz Jacobsen

Republished with permission of Canora Courier. Photo credit: Canora Courier/Preeceville Progress/Liz Jacobsen. Source:

Fr. Joakim Rac officially retired from his position as Ukrainian Catholic [Pastor] of many communities in the Preeceville/Canora/Kamsack area. The congregation at the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Preeceville hosted a farewell light supper after the [Divine Liturgy] on June 3.

Rac was born in Ruski Kerestur, Vojvodina, Serbia (Yugoslavia) to Ljubomir and Anna Rac in 1954. Ruski Kerestur was built and populated by the old Ukrainian emigration from the Carpathian Mountains in 1746. Fr. Joakim’s two brothers, Ljubomir and Michael died in infancy, he has younger twin sisters, Melanie and Irene.

He attended elementary school in Rome, Italy, where he graduated from the six- year Classical High School. In 1972, he moved to the Ukrainian Catholic College of St. Josaphat, Rome (Pontifical Ukrainian Major Seminary) and took two years of Philosophy at the Pontifical University Urbaniana in Rome where he received his Bachelor of Philosophy with highest honours.

In 1974, he entered SS. Cyril and Methodius Greek Catholic Seminary in Zagreb, Croatia. After studying Sacred Theology for six years at thee Catholic Faculty in Zagreb, he received his License of Theology achieving the highest honours. He  took two more years of Theology at the same faculty, as specialization in Moral Theology. He also took German language classes at the Goethe Institute in Prien, West Germany with two years specializing in the Latin, German, Croatian, and Italian languages at the State University of Arts and Sciences in Zagreb, Croatia, two years of Philosophy at the State University of Arts and Sciences in Belgrade, Serbia and he spent one year in the Army and Navy, which as an obligation in Yugoslavia.

Before his 20th birthday, he managed to learn the languages of Ukrainian, Ruthenian (Rusyn), Serbian, Russian, Italian, Old Slavonic, German, Croatian, Latin and Greek. He learned English later in Canada. Writing, translating and publishing was his passion.

On September 25, 1982, he married Zlatica Kovac, a pediatric nurse from Ruski Kerestur. At that time she worked at the Provincial Hospital in Novi Sad, Vojvodina, for mothers and children.

On October 9, 1982, Rac was ordained as a deacon in St. Cyril and Methodius Greek-Catholic Seminary in Zagreb by Bishop Joakim Segedi. On October 24 1982, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Joakim Segedi at St. Nicholas Greek-Catholic Church in Ruski Kerestur, which became his first parish with 6,000 parishioners.

On June 17, 1983, following the invitation of His Excellency Bishop Andrew Roborecky and Rt. Rev. Msgr. Rudolf Luzney, Fr. Rac and his wife, Zlatica came to Saskatchewan. He was the assistant priest at St. George’s Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Saskatoon for three months and on September 15, 1983 he was appointed a pastor to the Norquay and Preeceville Parish district and on August 2, 1995 to Canora and district.

The couple has four children, Tanya, Boris, Anna-Maria and Tony.

Father Rac has many accomplishments that include taking on many other Ukrainian Catholic churches. He was the pastor of the Canora parish district, was the Dean of the Yorkton Deanery from the establishment of the Deaneries and the Dean of the Yorkton and Regina Deanery Eparchial Consultor, Chairman of the Eparchial Presbyteral Council and the Eparchial Personal Board, lecturer of the Ukrainian language at the Universities of Regina and Yorkton campus, Saskatchewan Soccer Association Coach and Referee, Ministerial Association member, Knights of Columbus chaplain, UCWL (Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League), UCY (Ukrainian Catholic Youth) Catechism, UCBC (Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood of Canada) Spiritual advisor and was a volunteer with the Sunrise Health Region.

In northern eastern Saskatchewan, he served in other churches and parish communities, Antonivka, Arran, Arran-Vesna, Benito, Buchach, Buchanam, Canora, Chekhiz, Dnieper, Dobrowody, Glen Elder (Danbury), Endeavour, Erwood, Hazel Dell, Hryhoriv, Hudson Bay, Hyas, High Tor, Invermay, Kamsack, Kovalivka, Kulykiv, Kyziv-Tiaziv, Madge Lake, Mamornitz, Maybridge, Norquay, Olesha, Pelly, Porcupine Plain, Prairie River, Preeceville, Rama, Rose Valley, Stove Creek, Swan River, Swan Plain, Radmore, Wadena, Wasyliw and Weekes.

In Canora for many years, he was a Parish Administrator of other Parish District of Humboldt, Wadena, Wynyard and Districts.

In his retirement he stated he was going to relax then start on his wife’s “Honey Do List,” that she had composed over the years for him.