Priest performs dramas in Saskatoon
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
SASKATOON — Rev. Edward Danylo Evanko, a Ukrainian Catholic
priest and former Broadway performer, recently presented two one-man
plays in Saskatchewan, highlighting the lives of two heroes of faith.
Evanko presented Blessed Nykyta in Prince Albert Feb. 3, in Saskatoon Feb.
4, and in Regina Feb. 6.
The play with music explored the life of Bishop Nykyta Budka, who in 1912
was appointed the first Ukrainian Catholic Bishop in Canada and who died
a martyr in a Soviet prison in 1949.
Evanko also presented Damien Feb. 5 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family
in Saskatoon. This second one-man production told the story of St.
Damien (born Jozef De Veuster), the 19th century Belgian priest who
spent 16 years living with and caring for the residents of the Molokai
island leper colony in Hawaii, before dying of the disease himself.
The play described Damien’s “call within a call” — the
call to serve those banished because of their leprosy, the “niche
that he was meant to fill” within his vocation to the priesthood.
The idea of a “call within a call” resonates with Evanko, who
says that within his vocation to the priesthood he has experienced a call
to “deepen people’s faith, to encourage others to enter
the religious life and to present evidence of extreme heroism in the
service of others.”
Evanko’s own vocation as a priest came late in life. Born in
Winnipeg in 1938, he was ordained in 2005, after a career as an actor
and singer that included the Stratford Festival, the English Opera,
Welsh National Opera and performances on Broadway. He presently serves
at Holy Dormition of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church in
Evanko was in Rome studying for the priesthood when Damien of Molokai was beatified by Pope John Paul II. When St. Damien was canonized a few years later, in 2009, Evanko launched his “drama ministry” with performances of the play written by Aldyth Morris. Evanko said he was pleased to perform at the Saskatoon cathedral as an expression of his friendship with Bishop Donald Bolen, whom he met while studying in Rome.