Consecration of St. Mary the Protectress Parish, Parksville, BC.
Written by Dobr. Erin Haugen
Roughly three years ago the members of what was formerly a parish in Port Alberni, due to declining membership, sold their property and moved to the more central and accessible city of Parksville. On June 28th of 2009 they purchased a building, a church of First Christian Science, and began the process of converting it into the Orthodox Church of St. Mary the Protectress.
On October 18th of 2009, with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Ilarion, Fr. Peter Haugen blessed the nearly completed church so that we could begin to hold services at our new home. Over the past three years as the process of moving and renovating took place, the members of St. Mary the Protectress had been holding services at Yates Funeral Chapel, also in Parksville. How wonderful it was to finally have a Church of our own!
Finally, on June 6th of this year, His Grace Bishop Ilarion was able to come to Parkville to see for himself the fruits of our labor and in a very special and unique service, consecrate our Temple; His first consecration in Canada. The weekend began with fellowship on Saturday evening where parishioners were able to come to the Church and meet His Grace in a casual setting, also giving His Grace a chance to view the Church and plan the service with Fr. Peter for the following day. The consecration was actually meant to take place on Saturday evening, but in a humorous twist, His Grace Bishop Ilarion’s luggage containing his vestments was delayed – No one is immune from the trials of flying!
The service on Sunday morning was truly special. It meant so much for the parishioners of St. Mary the Protectress to see their work finally pay off. The church was bursting at the seams with our own church family and many other visitors both from other parts of the island, and as far away as Saskatchewan. The consecration service was followed by a Divine Liturgy served by His Grace Bishop Ilarion, Rev. Fr. Peter Haugen, and Very Rev. Fr. Michael Sokyrka. Following service those in attendance had a chance to reflect and rejoice during a wonderful banquet.
Now that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Mary the Protectress has been consecrated, the parishioners are able to focus on the next chapter – The growth and expansion of their church family. We are grateful to His Grace Bishop Ilarion for his visit and for helping to see our vision realized, and we thank all those who have helped us come this far. Glory Be to Jesus Christ!