Fr. Wolodymyr Iwaszko Projects
214 Avenue M South, Saskatoon, SK S7M 2K4
Date: October 4, 2021
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
This letter is sent to you requesting financial support for a memorial plaque to commemorate +Reverend Mitrat Wolodymyr Iwaszko – a modest priest who left an enduring legacy of 50 years of selfless service to God, country and community – especially to youth, both in Canada and in Ukraine.
In recent years the Youth of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, in cooperation with youth from Sambir, Ukraine, where Fr. Iwaszko first served as chaplain, have embarked on significant projects to honour and preserve his memory. These youth are inspired by his life of perseverance, leadership and guidance; and, how he led by good example. Details about his life are included as an attachment to this letter.
The youth projects include a publication of the translation into English of Fr. Wolodymyr’s Memoirs, which he wrote at the age of 85. This book also contains remembrances and archival photos from people who knew him personally, as well as contributions from youth who will share with readers what Fr. Iwaszko’s message means to them present-day.
Another project, in planning stages, is the production of a video about Fr. Iwaszko’s life and service in Ukraine and Canada. Covid-19 restrictions have put completion of this project on hold for now.
The third undertaking is to construct and erect a memorial plaque; for which fundraising is ongoing.
The plaque design includes a bronze cast image of Fr. Iwaszko with bi-lingual (Ukrainian and English) text and appropriate edge decorations. A 2nd accompanying plaque will include additional information including the names of all donors to this project. The plaques will be mounted on the gates at the entrance of the church at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Catholic Eparchial Park near Saskatoon. Current estimated cost is $20,000 (Canadian). Quiet fundraising has raised a few thousand dollars but, more is needed prior to finalizing the design and proceeding further. It is hoped to reach the goal soon to ensure the project can be completed and unveiled by spring of 2022. The proposed design of the memorial plaque is attached to this letter.
I am writing you to humbly invite those who knew Fr. Wolodymyr Iwaszko or have benefitted from his community involvement, to help in preserving his memory by contributing to the creation and placement of the plaque in Canada. Your donation will make this happen and help leave a lasting legacy for all to see!
Donations should be made payable to “Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon.” Please indicate ‘Fr. Iwaszko’s plaque.’ The mailing address is Chancery Office – 214 Avenue M South, Saskatoon, SK, S7M 2K4. A charity receipt will follow.
If you have any questions or wish to discuss the project in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at 306-914-0355 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you will consider donating to this very worthwhile project and sincerely welcome all financial support. Thank-you!
Director of Fr. Iwaszko Projects,
Youth and Young Adult Minister,
Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon
- Shown on the right is a portrait of Fr. Iwaszko. This plaque would also include his year of birth and death, a maple leaf symbolizing Canada, a kalyna leaf symbolizing Ukraine and a Plast logo.
- On the left is the information plaque recognizing project donors.
Father Wolodymyr Iwaszko:
A man of God, a champion of youth,
a patriot of Ukraine and his adopted country, Canada
Much material has been collected, reviewed and compiled about Father Iwaszko. It documents the life of a simple priest who left an enduring legacy of selfless service to God, country and community, especially to youth in Canada and in Ukraine. His life story serves as an inspiration to all he touched and his memory remains forever in the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to have known him.
Wolodymyr Semen Iwaszko was born to Anton and Maria Iwaszko on May 23, 1908, in Sudova Vyshnia, today in Lviv Oblast, Ukraine. He had ten siblings, four of whom died at an early age. At the time, Sudova Vyshnia was part of the Second Polish Republic and schooling was not available for Ukrainian children, so young Wolodymyr attended secretly organized studies. The consistent persecution of Ukrainian students and families led Wolodymyr’s parents to enrol him in a gymnasium (secondary school) in Yavoriv and then in Peremyshyl, today in Poland, where he completed his high school education. It was also in Peremyshyl where he undertook theological studies at the Greek Catholic seminary, 1930-1934.
Wolodymyr was raised in a pious family and received a solid grounding in the Catholic faith. As a youth he witnessed and felt the pain of many acts of persecution directed towards his people and his Church. His decision to enter the priesthood was a logical outcome of his upbringing.
Father Wolodymyr elected not to marry, explaining that “It will be difficult to be both a good family man and a good priest, so I will try to be a good priest.”
And he truly was.
Ordained as a priest by Bishop Josaphat Kotsylovsky, OSBM, in Peremyshyl, March 4th, 1934, Father Wolodymyr Iwaszko served as a chaplain, catechist and youth leader for a time in Sambir, 1934-1944. These were dangerous times as war was raging on many fronts in Ukraine. Yet in spite of difficult circumstances, he managed to establish and to lead Plast (Ukrainian Youth Organization), organized “Children of Mary,” served as a catechist in the Ukrainian gymnasium, Association of “Ridna Shkola” (Товариство «Рідна Школа») and other schools, took care of orphans and the poor, often purchasing clothes for them with his own money, and inspired them to join Ukrainian youth organizations. He worked in many other Ukrainian youth organizations, including “Dnister,” “Sokil,” “Luh,” “Sich,” “Prosvita,” “Ukrainska Besida,” he managed the Youth Affairs Office at the District Committee, and he organized reading rooms (chytalni) for “Prosvita,” choirs, and children’s sadochoks.
For his work with youth and for instilling in them a Ukrainian national consciousness, the Polish authorities punitively committed Father Wolodymyr to a concentration camp, Bereza Kartuzka, where he lived in terrible conditions from the spring to the fall of 1939. He later returned to Sambir and when Nazi troops occupied the city he was one of the first to organize resistance fighters, many of whom subsequently took an active role in the events leading up to the June 30, 1941, proclamation of Ukraine’s independence.
By 1944, communists were in control and were persecuting the Ukrainian population. Upon the advice of Bishop Kotsylovsky who told Father Iwaszko, “I want you to go to the West, because you are too valuable to be killed,” he transferred to pastoral service in Western Lemkovyna with a special assignment to take care of Ukrainian youth in forced labor camps. Unfortunately, he soon experienced all the sorrows of refugee life himself, first in Slovakia and then in Displaced Persons camps in Germany from which, in January of 1948, he left for Canada, initially settling in Winnipeg where he became an assistant priest at the Pokrova of Holy Mary Church.
It is worth mentioning that in 1998, people in Ukraine, grateful for his 10 years of service to Sambir, mounted a memorial plaque dedicated to Fr. Wolodymyr Iwaszko on the wall of the house he lived in from 1934 -1944. The inscription reads: ‘In this house, from 1934 – 1944, lived Father Mitrat Wolodymyr Iwaszko, public figure and youth mentor in Sambir.’
From his early youth, Father was a member of the Ukrainian Youth Organization Plast, and before his leaving Germany the Supreme Council of Plast in Munich charged him with organizing Plast in Canada. Thus in 1948, upon arriving in Winnipeg, he set about organizing Plast in the city. In November of 1948, he was relocated to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and became the parish priest of St. George’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. While in Prince Albert, he laid the groundwork for the building of a new church, helped to teach in Ridna Shkola and led a choir of school youth.
The Plast group which existed in Prince Albert during his tenure there ceased to operate with the reassignment of Father Wolodymyr to Saskatoon where, in 1953, he became an assistant priest at St. George’s Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral and later parish priest, 1973-1980. Fr. Iwaszko served Saskatoon as Eparchial Consultor for forty years during which time he attained the distinctions of Kryloshanyn (1975) and Mitrat (1981).
Upon his arrival in Saskatoon, he set about organizing Plast and soon attracted many young people. The various Plast camps and jamborees in Saskatchewan, the Alberta Rockies, Manitoba’s Lake Winnipeg and Ontario, all left indelible memories of hikes and canoeing trips in the minds of the plastuny who participated. For his service to Plast he was awarded the Gold Medal of St. George by the International Executive of Plast (Головна Пластова Булава).
Father Iwaszko believed in the power and promise of youth and worked enthusiastically in initiating, promoting and supporting many other youth groups such as the Ukrainian Catholic Youth, the Children of Mary, the Altar Boys group and others. He was admired and respected by many.
Father was an avid sports enthusiast and encouraged youth to participate in variety of sporting activities such as soccer, volleyball, basketball, badminton, table tennis and others, often officiating at some club tournaments. He was also known to enjoy taking part himself in a game of soccer or a table tennis match.
Father Iwaszko strived to instill in youth the same principles he lived by: honesty, fairness, politeness, respect, self-discipline, vigilance, a healthy life style, keeping one’s word, being reasoned, approachable and kind to others. He left an enduring impression on all who came into contact with him, particularly young people.
This modest priest was active in the Ukrainian community both as a spiritual leader and organizer. A few of his considerable contributions to church and community life include his involvement in the construction of St. Volodymyr Church at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Catholic Eparchial Park (near Saskatoon and Pike Lake), St. George’s Youth Centre, Senior Citizens’ Apartment, St. Joseph’s Nursing Home, publications such as “The Almanac of the Eparchy,” the 10th Anniversary of Plast in Saskatoon and much more. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus Sheptytsky Council #4938 of Saskatoon, and a spiritual assistant of the Ukrainian Catholic Teachers Organization of Saskatchewan. For his laudable community service, he was awarded the Shevchenko Medal by the Presidium of the Committee of Ukrainians of Canada. In 1988 he received the Nation Builder award from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress of Saskatchewan.
A few recollections:
Юрій Федик, племінник о.Івашка, після відвідин Самбора з нагоди відкриття меморіальної дошки отцю Івашку у м. Самборі (1998): «Для мене було дуже зворушливим, що він живе в серцях багатьох людей, хоча пройшло вже 54 роки відколи отець залишив Самбір та Україну. Я подивляю його таланти як лідера, його гідність як особи, його вплив на суспільство та велику пошану для кожної особи»
Jurij Fedyk, nephew of Fr.Iwaszko following his visit to Sambir for the dedication of the memorial plaque to Fr.Iwaszko in the City of Sambir (1998): “It was very touching for me that he lives in the hearts of many people, although it has been 54 years since Father left Sambir and Ukraine. I admire his talents as a leader, his dignity as a person, his impact on society and his great respect for each person.”
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Юрій Леськів, пластун сеньйор, курінь «Сіроманці», головний редактор журналу «Пластовий Шлях», м.Самбір: «Отець Володимир Івашко – значуща постать у пластовій історії як України, так і Канади. Гідним пощануванням памяті було би створення в майбутньому юнацького пластового куреня його імені.»
Yuriy Leskiv, scout-senior, “Siromantsi” group, editor-in-chief of the “Plastovyi Shliakh” magazine in Sambir: “Father Wolodymyr Iwaszko is a significant figure in the history of Plast both in Ukraine and in Canada. A worthy tribute to his memory would be the creation of a youth Plast group named after him”.
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Тереза Герчак (дів. Баран): «Постійний» – це слово, яке описує для мене отця Івашка. Він був постійним позитивним впливом для мене впродовж мого дитинства, підліткового віку і дорослого життя.»
Theresa Herchak (nee Baran): “Constant” is my one word to describe Father Iwaszko. He was a constant positive influence on me throughout my childhood, adolescence and adult life.
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Соня Кодак (дів.Камінські): «Навіть зараз, десятиліттями пізніше, про отця Івашка продовжують згадувати з любов’ю і його поважають як великого зразка для наслідування – його дух живе! Роблячи те, що просив від нього Бог, він надихнув нас передавати нашим дітям віру, навчання та захоплення отця Мітрата Володимира Івашка.»
Sonia Kodak (nee Kaminsky): «Even now, decades later, Father Iwaszko continues to be remembered with fondness and is respected as a great role model – his spirit lives on! By doing what God asked of him, he inspired us to pass on to our children the faith, teachings and the passion of Father Mitrat Wolodymyr Iwaszko.»