Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration

УКРАЇНСЬКA КАТОЛИЦЬКA ЦЕРКВА ПРЕОБРАЖЕННЯ ГОСПОДНЬОГО


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You belong, I belong, we belong to each other!

As we celebrate our second Christmas cycle under pandemic restrictions and look towards year 3 of COVID in March, we can look back in awe and gratitude at our 2021 parish life. Beginning in January last year, we weathered the range of church openings from closure to the gradual allowance of 5, 10, and 35 people. Youtube livestreaming became normal, yet still has its constant glitches: thank God for understanding, patience, and a sense of humour!

With understanding and patience, participants at liturgies filled out forms, wore masks, and kept physical distance, again and again and again!

Our choir sent virtual greetings and koliady to us all and many Christmas greetings were shared virtually.

Volunteers kept the church disinfected and safe whenever people were able to enter and a year ago, at this time of Theophany, because our church was closed, volunteers helped to distribute containers of blessed Jordan water.

We stayed in touch through email and phone, sharing public health and vaccine updates.

Throughout Great Lent we shared meditations to recognize the risen Christ within us. We strove to orient ourselves in the miracle of creation; recognizing our interconnection with each other and with the natural world.

The Bible study group continued through ZOOM.

Our prayers held strong for each other, our communities, and Ukraine. We thank God that our members who were ill with COVID in 2021 have recovered safely.

Volunteers distributed pussy willows on Kvitna Nedilia and we gathered for an unusual Easter basket blessing in our parish parking lot!

Unable to share our common paska meal with our parish family, we held on in hope and solidarity from our homes.

At Pentecost we prayed panakhyda at the gravesites of many of our loved ones.

In time for Praznyk, we were blessed with the creation of the icon of Ukrainian martyrs.

We learned about the life of these contemporary saints in our weekly bulletin. Bishop Bryan celebrated Divine Liturgy and blessed our new icon as well as an abundance of fruit on the Feast of the Transfiguration.

Volunteers distributed blessed fruit and an icon print for those who weren’t present.

Autumn arrived and we donated to the Foodbank and St John’s Kitchen to support their outreach for those who are homeless.

Our women’s group ensured Nasha Doroha reached UCWLC members.

Our Parish Committee organized a wonderful surprise for Fr. Myroslaw’s 40th anniversary of ordination. He was deeply moved and humbled by his parish family’s warm greeting.

We raised awareness about domestic abuse and its rise during the pandemic, (here and in Ukraine) and donated to our local women’s crisis centre.

Parish members put together and shared a moving tribute to the Holodomor.

Undaunted by all obstacles, Project Smile and Family Smile were completed by many volunteers and the generosity of every parish member.

Mykolaj, via our parish, brought renewed smiles to the residents of the Petryky Orphanage!

We can all join in this gladness!

Mykolaj also had bag of treats for us here at our Church and his helpers delivered them to our parish children!

      Christmas joy began early with 3 Master Classes given on Sundays. Participants learned the traditional art of making Christmas “spiders” an example of which now graces our Church entrance for this year’s Christmas season.

      Our community is blessed with each member’s talents and skills.

      Together through our Sunday bulletin we began a lifelong journey of ecological conversion—our endeavor to change our perception—to see through the loving eyes of Christ. Our conversion compels positive action towards social and environmental justice. In this way we joined the global Laudato Si movement begun by Pope Francis and taken up by Patriarch Sviatoslav.

We have lost beloved parishioners and gained new ones, welcoming tiny members who have been baptized into our community.  We keep those who have left us in our hearts, grateful for the love and goodness they have given us. We pray that our youngest parishioners will always feel the comfort and peace of true belonging.

All year long, you have supported our church with prayers, donations, and volunteering. We have undergone personal joys and sorrows. God bless each and every one of you, our parish family for your role in shaping this community into a loving family in Christ.

PLEASE REMEMBER As we move further into 2022 we repeat last year’s plea: 

You are loved. You are beautiful. You belong, I belong, we belong to each other.

Ask for help when you need to: ask Father, ask others.

Let’s take care of each other.

The days are getting longer and the sun will shine.

Let’s keep the light in our hearts.

Christ is Born. God is with us!


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Sis’ia rodysia sis’ia—nebo i zemlia veselysia!

(Take root and flourish—heaven and earth be glad!)

With these words, while “sowing” a handful of grain over the threshold of a home, we greet each other with the feast of the Theophany. Our ancestors carry us in our ecological conversion, echoing the sacred elements of nature and the fusion of heaven and earth revealed by the Incarnation! Our traditions teach us that we are an integral part of a universe of beauty and renewal, where death and life co-exist.

At the Theophany we greet the mind-blowing revelation of the Trinity: God as three persons—not one Master. While throughout history we insist on remaking God into our own image of a powerful king, the Gospels present God as dynamic relationship: a circular outpouring (perichoresis) of self to other and to another and another . . . Think of our Christmas kolach with its three circular braids! A circle allows no hierarchy or linear directions of any kind, be that time, space, or power. God is spirit, flesh, energy: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. “ . . . an overflowing waterwheel of divine compassion and mercy and a love stronger than death.” (C. LaCugna) Moreover, let’s stop and really think about what it means that we, you and I, participate in the Triune God through our baptism. As 2022 begins and Ukraine continues to be besieged by threats of Russian invasion, and COVID continues to decimate global populations, our most reliable action is to open our hearts to our

capacity to live this time in the hope and dynamism of our Trinitarian faith. We share the blessed water of the Jordan, recognizing anew its meaning of rebirth in Christ.

Our weekly parish practices propel us to this deeper perception of reality.

Let’s keep us these efforts, review previous bulletins, and daily, refresh our commitment to live our faith ever more fully.

Na shchastia na zdorvia—nebo i zemlia veselysia!

May you have health and good fortune—heaven and earth be glad!


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Celebrating Christ’s Nativity

  Outside our church on the night of Rizdvo, in the dark and frigid cold, joyous laughter and ancient carols rang up to the heavens. THANK YOU to our carollers who with frozen toes and warm hearts sang Christmas praise and spoke hearty greetings of goodness and hope to us all.

  This scene encapsulates our parish: courage, tradition, togetherness, joy, love.

  On this feast of the Nativity of our Lord, we sing in gratitude to God for each and every member of our parish family:

THANK YOU

to Father and Deacon for their service

to you who serve at the altar

to you who keep our church and its grounds clean

to you who keep it decorated and beautiful

to you who sing in the choir and lead all of us in song

to you who come to services and to you who come in spirit

to you who volunteer your skills and time

to you who support us financially

to you who translate our bulletin into correct Ukrainian

to you who serve in the parish committee

to you who pray— no matter where or when or how

We are family and we are blessed to have each other in Christ.

Christ is Born—Let us glorify him!


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Joined in the sacred mystery of creation

Our parish’s journey towards ecological conversion is illuminated in the wonder of Christmas: the nativity of Christ, the incarnation of God. We, Ukrainian Catholics, have only to revisit our Christmas traditions handed down from generation to generation, reaching back to pagan times. In these practices we act out the experience of Laudato Si—depicted in our icon of the Nativity: heaven and earth joined; humans, angels, animals, nature, joined in the sacred mystery of creation.

 Our koliady and shchedrivky, the oldest folk songs we have, celebrate the holiness of nature. The rituals of our Sviata Vechera that we know to this day, revere the presence of God in our surrounding environment. We honour the earth, its products and its creatures.

  Think of the weekly actions we are undertaking in order to take part in improving the state of the world. For example, we have looked at the global benefit of eating less meat, buying locally and reducing plastic. We have reflected on the need to appreciate our connection to each other and the earth we stand on.

  Our Sviata Vechera is a veritable feast of only meatless dishes consisting of seasonal and thus local products! The number 12, recalling Christ’s 12 apostles, symbolized the 12 moons of the year, in pre-Christian times. This celebration of Christ’s light in the darkness of the winter, acknowledges the intrinsic presence of God with us, around us, in us. Animals, pets are included in the Holy Supper—fed before the family begins. We look to the sky for the first star to begin the meal: this for us is the star of Bethlehem. The hay under the table and cloth tells us of Christ’s manger and a sheaf of grain (didukh, grandfather) symbolizes the presence of our ancestors participating in this ritual meal. These symbolic “decorations” are neither plastic nor expensive and they tie us to the unfathomable event of Christ’s birth. A candle in the window invites anyone without their own family celebration to join us. On the table the 3 ringed braided kolach stands for the Trinity, the central candle representing Christ’s light to the world.

  The foods we prepare also tie us to each other, the earth and to all time. The grains of Kutia symbolize life; honey and poppyseed evoke life’s bitterness and sweetness. We leave a place setting empty, for our loved ones who have gone before us and are still to come. No one is to be excluded from this meal. The fish, borsch, holubtsi, pyrohy, with cabbage, grains, and abundant mushroom dishes attest to the plenty we can have access to even in the dead of winter. The Uzvar of dried fruit derives from the fall and summer harvests that are dried and saved for this holy meal.

Our traditions, of course, could fill volumes, but remembering why we have any of our customs and rituals helps to keep us grounded in the material reality of our Christian Faith. Like our ancestors who could see God in the grain that sustains our life, we too can focus on Rizdvo as the miracle of our humanity. We can recognize that as Christians, our work is to be not “spiritual” beings, but truly “human” beings—as God became human, so too must we. “God comes to us disguised as our life.” (Paula D’Arcy).

The symbol of Christmas—what is it? . . .

It is the promise of tomorrow at the close of every day, the movement of life in defiance of death, and the assurance that love is sturdier than hate, that right is more confident than wrong, that good is more permanent than evil.”

This Christmas, May the peace of Christ be reborn in our hearts, bringing us hope to see light in the gloom,

courage to find joy in each day

patience to see goodness in others,

and gratitude for the earth we share . . .

May this Christmas peace spill over in love from our own hearts to everyone we meet.

This is the magic of Christmas!


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All creation awaits the birth and rebirth in every one of us of Christ!

But what most alienated Day from her fellow-radicals was her conviction that what was needed was not a violent revolution but “a revolution of the heart,” as she called it: an ability to see Christ in others, and to love others as God loves us. (The New Yorker April 13, 2020 )

Less than 2 weeks to Julian calendar Christmas. The rush is on. Traditions of celebration reverberate throughout society, religious or not, while pandemic restrictions once again hinder our expectations! But our Gospel reflections remind us that this holiday is so much more than a birthday party for a special individual. The birth we celebrate is a cosmic event illuminating the mystery of our existence. The birth of one human child in history unveils the presence of God in all creation throughout time.

  This Sunday of our forebears reminds us that we take part in this cosmic reality; and, as the parable of the banquet points out, everyone is invited to the feast. We, (Catholic; Orthodox) are not an elite group receiving God’s favour. The invitations go to even the most rejected people we can imagine, including you and me. Perhaps the parable asks us if we are willing to sit at the table with those whom we see as Other? Do I make excuses to avoid the requirements of living as an authentic Christian, following in Christ’s footsteps? Am I too busy? Too comfortable? Too distracted?

  Last week we recognized our weekly actions in the Laudatus Si movement as a continuation of the Church’s social justice mission, represented by (for example) St Nicholas, Andrij Sheptytsky, and our present Church leaders: Sviatoslav and Francis. Currently, the process is underway to canonize Dorothy Day (1897-1980)—the founder of The Catholic Worker. Dorothy Day, was a journalist and radical social activist, concerned for workers and the impoverished. She strove to live the Gospel through bringing hospitality and welcome to the most marginalized of New York City. Her life of service to and with the poorest of society inspired the Catholic Worker movement worldwide. Our local connection to Day is through the Working Centre in Kitchener, which is modeled on her work and philosophy. Throughout the pandemic, the Working Centre has never ceased accelerating its work to welcome those who seem to have lost their place in community: those who are unemployed, hungry, homeless, or fettered by addictions. Our parish community had begun a relationship with the Working Centre pre-COVID, and hope to expand our support once the pandemic stabilizes.

  You and I—we together—stand with those here and now, as well as with our forebears, and those whose lives led to the birth of Christ. We stand with them, drawing on their strength and courage in our daily journey of ecological conversion.  They help to clear our vision, so that we see with such loving compassion that those around us feel the presence of Christ. All creation awaits the birth and rebirth in every one of us of Christ. Together soon we greet the mystery of the Incarnation. May we be renewed in peace and hope.

 “We cannot love God, unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other.

We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore.” (Dorothy Day 1952)


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Hold the spirit of St. Nicholas in our hearts

There is a reason why Christmas and St Nicholas are synonymous. God becomes human and a human becomes like God. This isn’t blasphemy! Christ taught how to live in love and the Bishop of Myra demonstrated how to live Christ’s teaching. Christ died because he subverted the norms of his day, elevating the downtrodden and illuminating the hollowness of wealth and status. This Sunday’s Gospels focus on economic inequality, as it were. We see the foolishness of a rich man who believes his wealth is his happiness. On the other hand, the beatitudes describe those in poverty and strife as happy—blessed—when Christ fills their soul. The Gospels point out that poverty in creation is “man-made”, rather than a Divine plan. Inequality exists because the “wealthy” “successful” world believes it has it all, ignoring others. The ignored, rejected, suffering, are God’s children as much as those who live in luxury.

  We recognize heavenly joy through each other and if we rest in our own comfort we may fail to see Christ in the homeless person wandering the streets. In following Christ we try to see the world as the Kingdom of Heaven infused with the Spirit: blessed. Since Christ’s life on earth, the Church has struggled with the immensity of His message, favouring power and wealth. Yet at the same time, a strong current of social justice has also endured, striving to reveal that blessedness of the Kingdom here and now.

  We love St Nicholas as a beacon of social justice, carrying that gladness of the beatitudes, using his familial inheritance to relieve the strife of poverty he encountered, seeing those on the margins as his equals—family in Christ. Currently, the hierarchy of our Church is working to rekindle the spirit of inclusion and hospitality in each of us. Patriarch Sviatoslav has embraced the global movement of Laudatus Si that we engage in with our weekly actions. Through this call to care for creation through social and climate justice in our Ukr Catholic Church we carry on the work of the Blessed Andrij Sheptysky and our forebears who teach us the hospitality, still today, of the candle in the window during our Holy Supper—telling those without their own family table that they still belong with us. Social justice begins with you and me and how we see each other. This week, let’s consciously hold the spirit of St Nicholas in our hearts; try to see those around us with more joy and less judgement. Then may the love and fun St Nicholas embodies take root in us and stay not just this week, but keep growing for all time.

“We cannot love God, unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore.” (Dorothy Day 1952)


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What Kind of God Do We Believe In?

We’ve begun the period of “Pylypivka”. What used to be a time of fasting has evolved into one of deep reflection on the incarnation of God. The incarnation is the source and spirit of Laudato Si and our communal journey of integral ecological conversion. God among us “in the flesh” tells us of the sanctity of all creation—including ourselves. While Luke speaks of the conviction of belief, we must remember what that belief actually is. God embodied in Christ is not the stereotype we may have accepted even from our catechism. Christ did not come as mighty ruler, judge, and controller of lives. Can we accept the God that Christ illuminates? Each year at this time we encounter anew the challenge of truly believing that God is LOVE. The conversion we seek lies in living this truth.

The Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister helps to explain our challenge:

  “In the long light of human history, then, it is not belief in God that sets us apart. It is the kind of God in which we choose to believe that in the end makes all the difference. Some believe in a God of wrath and become wrathful with others as a result. Some believe in a God who is indifferent to the world and, when they find themselves alone, as all of us do at some time or another, shrivel up and die inside from the indifference they feel in the world around them. Some believe in a God who makes traffic lights turn green and so become the children of magical coincidence . . . . Some believe in a God of laws and crumble in spirit and psyche when they themselves break them or else become even more stern in demanding from others standards they themselves cannot keep. They conceive of God as the manipulator of the universe, rather than its blessing-Maker. . . .

I have known all of those Gods in my own life. They have all failed me. I have feared God and been judgmental of others. I have used God to get me through life and, as a result, failed to take steps to change life myself. I have been blind to the God within me and so, thinking of God as far away, have failed to make God present to others. I have allowed God to be mediated to me through images of God foreign to the very idea of God: God the puppeteer, God the potentate, God the persecutor make a mockery of the very definition of God. I have come to the conclusion, after a lifetime of looking for God, that such a divinity is a graven image of ourselves, that such a deity is not a god big enough to believe in. Indeed, it is the God in whom we choose to believe that determines the rest of life for us. In our conception of the nature of God lies the kernel of the spiritual life. Made in the image of God, we grow in the image of the God we make for ourselves. . . .”

Chittister invites us to the prayerful inner work necessary to discover the God we really believe in, for the sake of encountering the true and living God:

  “Until I discover the God in which I believe, I will never understand another thing about my own life. If my God is harsh judge, I will live in unquenchable guilt. If my God is Holy Nothingness, I will live a life of cosmic loneliness. If my God is taunt and bully, I will live my life impaled on the pin of a grinning giant. If my God is life and hope, I will live my life in fullness overflowing forever.” 

Joan ChittisterIn Search of Belief (Liguori Publications: 1999), 20–21, 22. In R Rohr’s daily reflections (30 11 21).


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We say NO! to violence

Last week, our parish action was to open our eyes to our personal attitudes, to admit to ourselves the biases we might hold towards others—so to see who it is that we might not treat as equal. Thanks to everyone who sponsored us (Fr M, Marusia & Aleksandra), our community members contributed funds to the Waterloo Women’s Crisis Services to help local women escape domestic abuse.

This week, let’s continue to focus specifically on the issue of domestic abuse, because in our journey towards ecological conversion we cannot ignore our interconnection with this suffering inflicted on people who are, oftentimes literally, our neighbours. Laudato Si explains that “concern for the environment needs to be joined to sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society” (91). Knowing that we must first change before we can cause change, we look to how we actually might be sustaining domestic abuse, rather than preventing it.

What do you think of when you hear the word “home”? Home refers to safety, belonging, love. What happens when home is a place you dread? The goodness of home is not in a building, but in the relationship with others there. When home is not a refuge, typically it is a man who exploits the affection of his wife or partner, not only harming her in some way, either physically, emotionally or spiritually, but most often also blaming her for her own unhappiness. All too often, men isolate their partner from her close friends and make her believe she is dependent on him. For this reason, on average a woman tries 7 times before escaping an abusive home. It is extremely difficult and, for many, ends in death. While every situation is different, it is important to recognize general patterns so that we can be supportive and unjudgmental of anyone we fear may be in trouble. The network of neighbours offers online training for anyone interested in mitigating domestic abuse. [Network of Neighbours Intervention Training

Significantly, the 6 km fundraiser was called “Walk to Break the Silence”. We must break the silence.

Possibly, as you read this bulletin, you may recognize that you are experiencing abuse or you may ask yourself if you might be causing unhappiness in your home. Please do not stay silent: talk to a friend, Fr Myroslaw, the Women’s Crisis Services, or anyone you trust. We need each other to find courage to take positive steps in new ways. Luke’s gospel this Sunday reminds us of how our fear of change can keep us from accepting freedom. First, the possessed man fears Christ’s reaction to him: “I beg you, don’t torture me!” Jesus not only does not torture the man, He sets him free, so that he no longer requires his fetters. The former raving madman is calm, rational, and happy. He can be “home” without fear. The villagers, however, were accustomed to the misery of their bound and chained neighbour. Rather than rejoicing, all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear”. The people rejected Christ. He “got into the boat and left”. There we have it, we are free to respond to Christ (and change ourselves and the world) or we are free to reject Christ, because we fear the change He entails.  

  • This week, think about home. Who lives there?
  • How do I relate to them?
  • Do I look forward to being home? Why?
  • Do I value what my partner does?
  • Do I treat my partner with respect? Do I feel respected?
  • When we disagree, is the same person always right?
  • Am I kind? Am I compassionate? Am I treated with kindness and compassion?
  • Beyond home:
  • Do I show respect for women in society?
  • Do I make sexist jokes or criticize women’s looks more than a man’s.
  • This week let’s overcome our fear of moving beyond the status quo. Let’s say “yes” to Christ.


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Lord, open our eyes!

  • Open our eyes, Lord
  • God of all, you made the earth and saw that it was good,
  • but like robbers we have stripped it of its treasure.
  • Open our eyes, Lord.
  • Now the earth cries out and your people hunger and thirst.
  • Open our eyes, Lord.
  • Open our eyes to see the pain of your creation and move us with compassion for your world.
  • Open our eyes, Lord.
  • Open our eyes, Lord.
  • Lead us to act as neighbours, who do not pass by on the other side.
  • So that together we may care for all that you have made and with all creation sing your praise.
  • Open our eyes, Lord.

(CAFOD: C Gorman)

On this, our 6th week of intentional and transformational actions taken together as a parish, may we stay strong in the faith that our small steps, united here and with this movement of actions worldwide, will indeed cause positive change, in ourselves and in the world. 

While Canadians might have felt sheltered from the immediacy of the climate crisis, the disaster this week in BC erases any feelings of complacency. Our actions towards ecological conversion are critical and teach us anew just how fundamentally interconnected we are with all creation.

Luke’s parable this Sunday (16:19-31), describes how easily we ignore our responsibility to each other when we ourselves are comfortable. The story is simple: rich man ignores poor man. Rich man goes to hell; poor man to heaven. The rich man is remorseful, but it is too late. Listeners—be forewarned!!! Yikes!

Before we panic, or find relief in the fact that we can’t be that rich, let’s take a closer look.

Who is this rich man? What is his name? What do we know about him?

What do we know of the poor man?

If you’re like me, you’ll think you’ve forgotten the name of the rich man, but in fact the rich man is not named; he could be any person who has what anyone wants: nice food, clothes, a house with a gate, and lots of siblings whom he cares about. Is it a sin to be wealthy? No. Wealth is not the problem here. The problem is what he sees and does not see. The problem is relationship with all creation. In the parable, the rich man only sees Lazarus once they have both died. The man sees Lazarus only once he himself is suffering. Nevertheless, he sees the difference between them as an unbridgeable chasm. He sees Lazarus only because he is with Abraham: the great Patriarch. The rich man now acknowledges Lazarus because Lazarus might help him. What was the rich man’s sin? In life, although Lazarus sat at the man’s gate—he did not see him. The difference between them was so great for the rich man, that Lazarus was invisible to him. The wealthy man did not abuse or ridicule the poor man; he simply did not see him or need him. He felt he had all he needed. Being self-sufficient—a success in the eyes of his peers—he was oblivious not only to Lazarus at his gate, but to God’s presence in his life.

And what about Lazarus? Does being poor make him holy? No. Poverty is not a virtue any more than is wealth. However, Lazarus could not be distracted by riches into believing that he didn’t need God and others. Lazarus had a relationship with heaven; Abraham calls him by name, and for this reason, we too know this sick begging character as a loved son of Abraham.

This week let’s add to our growing list of actions, the need to recognize individuals in our life whom we haven’t acknowledged as our equals. This would vary for each of us. Who, for me, is outside of my scope of caring? Might it be an estranged family member? Members of a foreign culture or religion? Perhaps the victims of domestic abuse, illuminated by the walk Aleksandra is doing this weekend or those in countries still waiting for COVID vaccines? Do I fail to see those who work without a decent wage, so that I can buy goods cheaply? 

We are connected to each other and to our surrounding environment. This week, let’s try to bridge the chasms that divide us and open our eyes to the beauty of the Spirit connecting us all.