St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church celebrated the beginning of its community earlier this month.
The Transcona church, located at 400 Day St., marked 100 years of its ekklesia (Greek for "worshipping community") with a praznyk on Nov. 17. The church initially registered as a Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church under the name St. Nicholas, but changed its name shortly after discovering another parish was already named after St. Nicholas.
Rev. Dr. Gregory Zubacz noted the parish had traditionally celebrated the opening of its first building — opened on Wabasha Street in 1917 — but felt it worthwhile to mark this anniversary as well. Zubacz noted that the concept of ekklesia was of particular importance when Communism took hold in eastern Europe, and though churches lost their buildings to the governments, the congregations met wherever they could to worship.
It’s a community the 47-year-old Zubacz has been a part of for much of his life — he was able to point out the spot where he was baptized.
"It was a joyous occasion, to have grown up in the parish where I did all my sacraments. I did my first communion here, did my first confession here, took my catechism here, did youth club here," Zubacz recalled, noting he was also in the choir. "My roots here are very deep."
Zubacz, who served 11 parishes in southern Manitoba before being assigned to St. Michael’s in 2010, noted the youth club was always bustling, with some young people even attending Saturday classes at Arthur Day Middle School because of high demand.
As part of the celebrations, the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Winnipeg, Most Reverend Lawrence Huculak, attended the service, as did MPs Lawrence Toet (Elmwood-Transcona) and James Bezan (Selkirk-Interlake).
Parish chairman Greg Hafichuk, 57, said he’s been attending services at the church all his life, save for a 12-year respite when he was living in Dauphin.
Hafichuk said the church has long been a pillar of the community, raising funds while also bringing people together. He added 20 families put up money to help get the church built at its current site in 1967 after a fire at the Wabasha Street site.
He said the centennial was a testament to the quality of parishioners and clergy over the course of the church’s history.
"It’s a celebration of all the hard work," Hafichuk said. "For those from the old country, it was a cultural as well as a spiritual assembly."
Hafichuk, a Transcona resident, has fond memories of seeing the "perogy crew", which would crank out 1,200 perogies every other week as a fundraiser for the church.
Zubacz anticipates the parish will be up for another celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the original building in 2017.