Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration


Nykyta Budka — bishop, pioneer, and martyr (1877-1949)

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Про священномученика Никиту Будки дивись:

Amongst the martyrs depicted on our new icon, to the right of Metropolitan Sheptytsky is a figure for whom we, members of our parish, can feel particularly grateful. The first Ukrainian Catholic bishop of Canada, Nykyta Budka, came to Kitchener in 1926 to bless the newly built sanctuary for our nascent community of the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord.

Blessed Martyr Budka began his life’s arduous journey in Dobromirka, Zbarazh Region, on June 7th, 1877. In 1905 he was ordained a priest by Metropolitan Sheptytsky. In October 1912, he was ordained bishop and assigned to serve our people in Canada.
The task awaiting him in Canada was daunting: 17 priests and communities of faithful from Nova Scotia to Alberta!
He centred his ministry in Winnipeg.

  His first undertaking was to assure our newly immigrated people that their Church cares for them, while he negotiated with Roman Catholic bishops who claimed control over our Ukrainian Greco-Catholic faithful. Bishop Budka ministered to our growing Canadian Church with selfless energy and fortitude. He travelled to visit all Ukrainian settlements, wrote pastoral letters, encouraged the establishment of parish schools, catechism for children; he founded orphanages and instituted hospitals run by the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate.

However, the war and postwar years were by far the most harrowing. The spite of some Ukrainians and the ignorance of Canadian authorities resulted in Bishop Budka’s arrest for treason in 1918. (This was due to a letter he wrote in 1914—prior to the commencement of war—where he mentioned a need to pray for the Austrian Emperor.) The trial took place and the charges were dropped, but the judge warned the bishop to watch what he says.

Another hardship the bishop endured was the conflict amongst our people regarding the Petro Mohyla residence in Saskatoon. The rift arose between those wanting lay or Church ownership of the cultural centre. His opponents vilified the bishop in the press and historians claim this was a factor in the fragmentation of the community and the establishment of the Orthodox Church in Canada (1918).

  The hard work and relentless accusations against him took a toll on Bishop Budka’s health. He applied for leave of his duties as bishop and returned to Ukraine the next year. Leaving behind a mature, strong Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada, he joined Metropolitan Sheptytsky and worked closely with him in Lviv. There his health improved, but not fully.

  In addition to his responsibilities in the metropolia, Bishop Budka restored the church in Zarvanytsia, where the wonder-working icon of the Mother of God is kept. This is where our parish’s UCWLC has funded a summer camp experience for residents of the Petryky orphanage.

 April 11th, 1945, all Ukrainian Catholic bishops in Soviet territory are arrested. Bishop Budka is accused of anti-Soviet activity and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment in a concentration camp near Karaganda. He worked as a medic and died there October 1st 1949. His body was thrown on the taiga for wild animals to devour, so that his grave wouldn’t become a place of devotion for prisoners. He had garnered great respect from others of all ethnicities and religions. Even the prison guards, who were to strip his body naked, honoured him by leaving his body clothed.

This Blessed Martyr not only blessed our church, but his antimension—signed by him in 1926—hangs on the wall opposite the new icon of Ukrainian martyrs.

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