Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration

УКРАЇНСЬКA КАТОЛИЦЬКA ЦЕРКВА ПРЕОБРАЖЕННЯ ГОСПОДНЬОГО


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We pray….for Ukraine….for peace

Romans 13:12:

 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.

This week we begin Great Lent, preparing for the feasts of feasts—Velykden’—Easter, the victory of light over darkness, life over death. Each year we prepare by delving into our own souls to tune our reception of Christ’s teaching: Do I let Love guide my actions, my being, or have I inured myself to its (Love’s) demands? 

During Lent we face the reality of the Cross: goodness incarnate tortured and killed.

We reflect on the living that Christ illustrated: unremitting compassion for those wronged, marginalized or suffering; unremitting passion for justice, equality and dignity.   

We, together with the world, watch in horror as “the deeds of darkness” descend on Ukraine. At the same time, with wonder and awe, we see Ukraine “put on the armour of light”. Our homeland, our country of heritage, looks in the face of the devil and does not succumb but stands in defence of justice, equality and dignity. Ukraine stands in defence of her children and her forbears. This is Love. 

On this forgiveness Sunday we recall Pope Francis’s appeal (in Fratelli Tutti) that to forgive does not mean accepting a wrong: it means we condemn the evil and act to stop it without ourselves being consumed by hatred.

Everyone of us in some capacity can contribute to support Ukraine: speak out the truth in our circles of communication; stay in contact as much as possible with those in Ukraine; support each other in our communities; donate time/funds; speak honestly to children and youth; stay united; be kind; pray pray pray. Where there is love, there is God; this is our “armour of light”.  

I can’t make the

world peaceful

I can’t stall tanks

from roaring down roads

I can’t prevent children

from having to hide in bunkers

I can’t convince the news to

stop turning war into a video game

I can’t silence the sound of bombs

tearing neighborhoods apart

I can’t turn a guided missile

into a bouquet of flowers

I can’t make a warmonger

have an ounce of empathy

I can’t convince ambassadors

to quit playing truth or dare

I can’t deflect a sniper’s bullet

from turning a wife into a widow

I can’t stave off a country being

reduced to ash and rubble

I can’t do any of that

the only thing I can do

is love the next person I encounter

without any conditions or strings

to love my neighbor

so fearlessly that

it starts a ripple

that stretches from

one horizon to the next

I can’t force peace

on the world

but I can become a force

of peace in the world

because

sometimes all it takes

is a single lit candle

in the darkness

to start a movement

“Lord, make me a candle

of comfort in this world

let me burn with peace”

~ John Roedel


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We pray for Ukraine

“We need to be physically fit to support one another; not waste time on fears, terrifying fantasies. We must act: help someone each day, the families of our soldiers, cheer up someone. Let’s begin and end each day in prayer, for in God there is truth, justice and our strength.

God bless our defenders, our Ukraine, all of us: May we have peace in our hearts; may we be strong; may we move from fear—to God-given Dignity”.

Metropolitan Boris Gudziak

Last week’s parable assured us of God’s most tender parental understanding of our failures. The story leaves us in a warm loving hug. This Sunday, however, we face an image of Christ enthroned as an (old testament) King, rewarding the good and condemning the bad. The parable is scary. Humanity is reduced to 2 categories: am I a sheep or a goat? Don’t these creatures look the same? Don’t they graze together? Both groups in the parable were surprised by the Judge’s summation of their behaviour. Both could not recall encountering Christ, never mind helping him or not.

Just as the parable of the prodigal son gave us a snapshot of God’s immeasurable love, so too this parable distills the Gospel mandate to help those in need. Indeed, if every human being cared for others, as Christ did, wouldn’t we have the Kingdom of Heaven:  “the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world”?

At this time of crisis, with Russia intent on destroying Ukraine, our people, history, and culture—our Faith sustains us. With the rhythms of our hearts we continue to pray. Our prayer gives us the strength and courage to act, to speak out for justice, truth, peace. The Ukrainian Maidan—Revolution of Dignity—illuminated a marvel of caring cooperation and creative resistance to systemic corruption and greed. The events of this week call every person to act, consciously responding to the needs of others, consciously recognizing Christ in others and ourselves.  

Everyone we’ve spoken to in Ukraine this week have said that they feel the world’s prayers. They remain steadfast in gratitude and hope. Thank you to everyone for your unceasing prayers.


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We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine!

Join us in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine! A public rally of support: Sunday, 2 p.m. at the Victoria Park Clock Tower. Please join us as we peacefully and prayerfully express our concerns and desire for peace and justice.

We pray to you, Heavenly King, Spirit of truth, love, and justice, and may our prayer for peace in Ukraine rise to You!

Set on fire and enlighten our minds and hearts, show us the right path in our work for the good of our people.

Strengthen the people of Ukraine that they may stand firm in their faith and trust in You!

Soften the hard hearts of those that threaten Ukraine with aggression and turn them from thoughts and deeds of wickedness.

Help us so that we not fall into despair in the face of evil, but renew in us the flame of Your Holy Spirit so that we may witness Your presence, in us, with us, and around us.

For You are our God, and we give You glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.


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God’s mercy is always with us

“Try not to get so worked up tato; you know it’s not good for your blood pressure!”

“You don’t understand Irynochko, no one knows that I hurt my back. They’ll think I’m lazy—they’ll think I’m a useless old man!”

“Tatu, don’t worry; everyone thinks you’re a superman, the way you keep the house and sidewalks clean at your age.”

“Yes, and they call that young guy across the street a lazy good-for-nothing because he never shovels his walk. He must be a renter. Thank God I own my home and keep it respectable. They shouldn’t allow renters in the neighbourhood!”

That night the house across the street had all the lights on. Ihor and his daughter, who was visiting from out of town for the weekend, watched an ambulance quietly back out of the driveway before the property fell into darkness again.

“That’s odd tatu, but no emergency sirens, so “Mr Lazy” doesn’t seem to be in trouble. I’ll go to bed early because I’ll have a long drive home tomorrow. Snow is forecast for the night and Sunday traffic can be heavy.” ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

In the morning the thick blowing snow obscured even the view from the windows.  

“Irynochko, you know that I can’t go to church since COVID; find the service on the computer, won’t you, I can’t ever do it right.” 

“Of course tatu! I’ll watch the Liturgy with you and drive out just after lunch.”

As the service began, a loud rattling startled Iryna and her father. Grabbing her coat Iryna went outside to investigate . . .

“Tatu!”

“Wait Irynochko, it’s the Gospel reading—the parable of the publican and the pharisee.”

Once the Liturgy ended, Iryna explained the racket outdoors.

“I met the young man across the street tatu. He is using his snow blower to clear his property and the neighbours’ too. He’s working on your driveway now. For the pandemic, he had been taking care of his mum, who has dementia. He’s been staying with her during covid outbreaks and hardly had a chance to come to his own place. Anyway, finally he has arranged for her to come live with him. He has a new snowblower that he loves to use and is happy to clear the sidewalk in the area!”

The Publican and the Pharisee

Of course, we’re not Pharisees—bragging about our good behaviour! Nor are we the “sinners” that the Pharisee describes. Who are we? 

Do I ever see myself as “better” than my neighbour? Do I ever condemn others without knowing anything about them? Do I ever say one thing and do another? Do I do “good” things so others will praise me?

This parable reminds us that our Christian commitment is not to adhere to a rule book, but rather to adhere to Christ’s commandment of love for ourselves and each other. “Be merciful to me, a sinner.” God’s mercy is always with us, but we only feel it when we admit to our weaknesses. We can accept God’s mercy and share it with others. When we accept our weaknesses we can understand the failings of others. Each day we can recalibrate our course towards living our life more generously.  Thank God for that!


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The power of selfless love that is in every person’s reach.

Our Byzantine Church calendar was established centuries ago, in order to guide and support us, as Christians, in knowing Christ and living our lives according to His example. Our Ukrainian folk culture also has evolved in tandem with our liturgical cycles, together reflecting a universal experience of being human—in the natural world, and in society.

In the Christmas cycle, we’ve encountered the mystery of birth, the wonder of God’s incarnation, and the meaning that Divine embodiment can have on my own understanding of my humanity—what it means to be human. As this season wanes, we look towards the next wondrous phase of the Liturgical Year.

We have meditated on the divine nature of our humanness, and now, together we contemplate how to live our humanity as Christians. The next 5 Sundays prepare us for the time of Great Lent with Gospel narratives that focus on our relationships with each other—how we act in the world. The parables can give us the courage to be as radical in our relationships as Christ was. This Sunday of Zacchaeus begins our foray of introspection into the mystery of our mortality —through Great Lent—to Pascha, when together we ponder the miracle of immortal life.

Although the same story of Zacchaeus is repeated each year, each year we can recognize fresh meaning.

Zacchaeus was the despised tax collector: rich, unscrupulous, and (as if that weren’t enough) short. No one was going to give Zacchaeus a front seat, so he climbed a tree to glimpse this Jesus who was the talk of the town. Zacchaeus really wants to see Jesus but, as the story goes, Jesus sees him. He calls Zacchaeus by name and invites himself over to Zacchaeus’s house for supper.  Zacchaeus puts himself into the presence of Jesus, but in fact, Jesus already knows him by name. He, you, me, are called; what is my response?

Zacchaeus is delighted. His encounter with Jesus transforms him from one who accumulates personal wealth by taking from others to one who profits from giving to others. Zacchaeus demonstrates ecological conversion: seeing others through the eyes of Christ, he recognizes his own role in nurturing social justice. Zacchaeus doesn’t just blame the system for economic disparity; he eagerly determines to share his wealth with those in need.

Zacchaeus lets himself be swept into the overflowing love of the Trinity.

This tale has more to show: the crowd that made no place for Zacchaeus were self- righteous and jealous. They might have rejoiced at Zacchaeus’s good fortune and conversion. But no—they resented the attention Jesus gave to a sinner. They thought themselves more deserving. Where do I stand? Do I think of myself only or do I care for the common good? Currently crowds of people have amassed in Ottawa, demanding their own satisfaction in the name of rights and freedom, while they disrupt the lives of city residents and reject measures taken for the good of all who live in Canada.

The story of Zacchaeus demonstrates the power of selfless love that is in every person’s reach. As we begin on the path towards Great Lent, may we find joy in actions for the good of our communities, rather than in angry crowds who yell the loudest. May we have the courage of Zacchaeus to hear Christ calling us by name.


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We pray and hope!

Bishop Bryan Bayda’s message for peace in Ukraine.

Global day of prayer for peace in Ukraine.

As this is being written, Ukraine continues in global news headlines: Russia is poised to invade our homeland beyond its unceasing aggression in Eastern Ukraine and takeover of Crimea.

We pray, as our people have done steadfastly through untold historical atrocities. We pray and we hope. How is this possible?

The Gospel reading this Sunday speaks of hope in Christ. God is with us when we strive for dignity, justice, peace. Ukraine’s Maidan has shown the world that this is what our people live for; this is what they represent. And this is why Ukraine is persecuted. Ukrainian freedom is a threat to Russian oppressive rule. Pope Francis writes of hope as rooted in every human heart:

“Hope speaks to us of a thirst, an aspiration, a longing for a life of fulfillment, a desire to achieve things that fill our heart

and lift our spirit to lofty realities like truth, goodness and beauty, justice and love… Hope is bold; it can look beyond personal convenience, the petty securities and compensations which limit our horizon, and it can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile” (Fratelli Tutti)Too often we still fall into the notion that suffering is divine punishment, yet again and again the Beatitudes remind us that God is with those who suffer as much as with those who do not: the disadvantaged, the hungry, the disheartened, and persecuted.  As we continue to strive towards a deep conversion we know that keeping hope alive, as we do all we can to help one another is an integral process in realizing the Kingdom of Heaven here and now. We, with Ukraine, must continue to help each other to carry light, the light of Christ, in the darkness.

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.—Martin Luther King, Jr.


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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!