Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/4/2016 (507 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Tucked away at the end of a road severed by a set of railway tracks is yet another beautiful hidden treasure of the North End.
A short history of Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Parish at 965 Boyd Ave., was recently written for its 90th anniversary in 2012 by devoted parishioners Russell and Daria Surowy and fittingly titled Celebrating Our Legacy.
"They started the parish in 1922," explains Russell. "Groups of people gathered in the hall of the Institute Prosvita building, and after some years, they decided to build a church." There were only two Ukrainian Catholic churches in north Winnipeg at the time, St. Nicholas and Sts. Vladimir and Olga, and the Ukrainian population was growing.
"They bought 10 lots for about $300, a lot here (at Artillery Street and Boyd Avenue) and then two more later," says Russell.
The first church was completed in 1926. "I was a young boy in 1956 and used to attend the old church. It was extremely European in the Ukrainian style… a totally wooden structure with two cupolas," he says.
When it became too small, the church was demolished to make way for the present church, designed by architects Victor Deneka and William Ruryk. It was completed in 1962.
The one constant throughout the years has been the devotion of "the very dedicated parishioners who do a lot of extra work," agree the Surowys and Rev. Volodymyr Bashutskyy, pastor of the church for almost 10 years.
The large contemporary brick building can hold up to 900 people. Its bold, colourful and beautiful interior is the result of the work of many artists over the years.
Much of the church is about Mary. One painting viewed by many as the "treasure of the church," is the icon of Mary "written" by Modest Sosenko in Ukraine in 1912, says Bashutskyy.
"It is unusual because it is dark," says Russell, and because "the artist placed himself into the icon… he was avant-garde in style… and revolutionary." It is believed it was the personal possession of Nykyta Budka, the first Ukrainian Bishop Ordinary for Canada who had a tremendous devotion to Mary and donated the icon to the church before he left Canada in 1927.
Another parish treasure is an icon commissioned by Bashutskyy and Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, of Bishop Budka himself. Designed by Ukrainian artist Volodymyr Sviderski, it was officially unveiled on the parish’s 90th anniversary and the centenary of the arrival of Bishop Budka to Canada.
The wonderful, bold, bright-blue mosaic of Mary in the sanctuary, the stained glass window of Mary above the entry and the colourful murals on the walls are all the work of well known Winnipeg artist Roman Kowal.
No longer focused on building but on maintaining, "We are now the custodians of our legacy," wrote the Surowys, as they summed up the parish’s history.
And a beautiful legacy it certainly is.
If you wish to tour the church, call 204-582-7535.
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