Ukrainian patriarch visits Regina
By Frank Flegel
REGINA — The world head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church told about 650 students, teachers and guests at Miller Catholic High School that in today’s world it is not easy being young. His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuck) visited the school Sept. 21 as part of his five-day, first ever visit to the Saskatoon eparchy, which covers the entire province of Saskatchewan. He related his brief comments to his own relative youth as head of the world’s second largest Catholic Church. At 40 years of age, he is the youngest archbishop in the Catholic Church.
“You are important and unique in the plans our God has for you,” he said to the students. “God is calling us to be responsible for the Church of Christ.”
He said his visit to the school is part of his efforts to connect with youth and to build bridges to them. “We want to share our faith, culture and traditions in Christ,” said the archbishop.
Before His Beatitude and guests arrived in the gymnasium, a video of the archbishop with some history of the Ukrainian Catholic Church was played. A choir of children ranging in age from five to 14 performed a hymn in the Ukrainian language. The children are all students in Miller Catholic High’s Ukrainian language program. The children also performed another hymn in the Ukrainian language as the archbishop departed the gymnasium.
The guests included Saskatchewan Education Minister Russ Marchuk, member of Parliament for the Regina Wascana constituency Ralph Goodale, Deputy Regina Mayor John Findura and Deputy Chair of the Regina Roman Catholic School Board Gerry Kleisinger. All brought greetings on behalf of their organizations.
Marchuk described the patriarch’s visit to Saskatchewan as historic, noting that Ukrainian settlers were important to the early development of Saskatchewan and now number about 125,000 or 13 per cent of Saskatchewan’s population.
Goodale, although a Liberal MP, brought greetings on behalf of Parliament. He spoke of what he described as the strong bonds that exist between Canada and Ukraine and also mentioned the importance of the early settlers to Canada’s development.
Findura related his own experience as a 15-year-old Polish immigrant who spoke no English and came to Miller as a student eventually being elected a City of Regina councillor.
Kleisinger briefly welcomed the archbishop, expressing pleasure that he chose to visit Regina and the school. Eparchy Bishop Bryan Bayda also briefly addressed the students.
Two dance groups, Chaban from the Ukrainian School of Dance made up of three- to six-year-olds and Tavria, a Ukrainian Folk Dance Ensemble of older teens and young adults, performed dances from the Bukovina district dressed in period costume.