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Pilgrimage to Gardenton 2010
On Saturday July 24, 2010 – a near perfect day for a pilgrimages, some 100 worshippers gathered in Gardenton (in southern Manitoba, approximately 100 kms south of Winnipeg) at the St. Michael’s Historic Ukrainian Orthodox Church for a day of remembering the pioneers and a day of spiritual renewal at the site of the oldest Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Canada. The liturgical celebration was headed by Bishop Andriy, vicar of the Central Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, and Metropolitan-Emeritus John, both of Winnipeg. Assisting them was the Church Chancellor, Very Rev. Victor Lakusta (from Winnipeg) and nine clergy of Manitoba and two deacons.
The liturgy began with the procession of the Icon of the Mother of God of Pochaiv and the welcoming of the two bishops. After the vesting of the bishops, the hierarchical liturgy was celebrated with great beauty under a tent erected for the occasion. Many of the worshippers facing east not only focused on the altar but also indirectly at the rows of crosses and funeral head stones of the deceased members of the parish. Many in attendance had loved ones buried on the site of the ground of St. Michael’s Historic Church. In addition the responses were led by Rev. Alexander Harkavyi who was assisted by the local cantors and the singing of many of those in attendance. The singing of the clergy and those present was most uplifting.
Bishop Andriy offered a most meaningful sermon where he connected the pilgrimage event to the historical significance and importance of the pioneers of the community. In addition he connected this date to the liturgical tribute commemorated on that day to the tenth century Princess St. Olha, and her importance in accepting Christianity for herself and in bringing Christianity to the Ukrainian nation. At the end of the liturgy, he also provided a “short teaching moment” on the importance and form of participation in the Eucharist.
After a hearty Ukrainian meal provided by the local community, a short program ensued. Father Wasyl Wasyliw introduced all the clergy in attendance and Fr. Deacon Taras Maluzynsky acknowledged all the guests that were present. Don Machnee, chair of the newly formed “Friends of St. Michaels Historic Ukrainian Orthodox Church” spoke on the importance of their committee work on maintaining the “historic church” and asked for prayerful and financial support. Likewise he introduced the members of the “Friends” committee. Afterwards many of those present visited the cemetery and church or continued to dialogue about the importance of the St. Michaels Historic Church.
Again this year a fitting tribute was provided for the first parish of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada with the annual pilgrimage. It is hoped that further pilgrimages will ensue on an annual basis with an even greater attendance and that the site will truly become the most important shrine of Ukrainian Orthodoxy in Canada.