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!