In 1959 The Ukrainian Catholic Parish of the Dormition of the Blessed Mother of God became the third Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Saskatoon.
In 1956, through the efforts of Bishop Andrew Roborecki, the parishioners obtained a two lot site at 105th Street and Moran Avenue, which was owned by Mr. John Muzyka, who then generously donated this land to start the new Parish. In 1958 they chose a provisional Parish Executive consisting of L. Pohoreski, J. Hnatyshyn, and J. Kachur. Under the direction of Rev. Gregory Novak, CSSR, Rector of Sheptytsky Institute, they then purchased the former Holy Family RC Church located at 804 Central Avenue, Saskatoon, for $7,000. In 1959 this church was moved to the present site, 120-105th Street West, Saskatoon, and the parish began operations with Rev. Rudolf Luzney as the first Pastor. November 15, 1959 Father Luzney celebrated the first Devine Liturgy at the new Church. On January 31, 1960, the parish held its first general meeting and selected the first parish executive with: L. Pohoreski, president, M. Dubyk, vice-president, E. Omelan, secretary, J. Pasitney, treasurer, M. Nehraeff, M. Rawluk, S. Omelian, executive members, and J. Husky, church hospodar. Simultaneously, a women’s executive was chosen which reorganized into the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League and consisted of: K. Omelan, E. Lutzer, K. Pohoreski and A. Hnatyshyn. Under the direction of these executives, the parish renovated the exterior of the church, enlarged the sanctuary area and acquired all the necessary instruments for holy services. This church served the parish for ten years and the last Divine Liturgy was celebrated on August 15, 1971. Subsequently this structure was dismantled and construction of the present church was begun. Church services were temporarily re-located to Sheptytsky Institute.
Construction of the new church was handled by a committee consisting of: W. Muzyka, W. Belosowsky, N. Wasylenko, M. Nehraeff, J. Luzney, J. Hnatyshyn, M. Bzdel and A. Skakun. The Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of the parish worked in conjunction with the construction committee and was instrumental in the fund raising campaign. Its executive at that time was formed by V. Chomyn, L. Muzyka, P. Belosowsky, K. Pohoreski and J. Dubyk.
The blessing of the church site and the official sod turning ceremony took place on May 16, 1971 with Bishop Andrew Roborecki officiating. Initial construction costs of the church totaled approximately $65,000, which was funded by a Loan from the Bank of Montreal. Through private donations and various fund raising projects, the loan was slowly being repaid. Additionally, the parishioners worked voluntarily in the evenings and spent countless hours completing the church interior and basement which now served as a parish hall equipped with kitchen facilities. On December 24, 1971, pastor Rev. John Worona, celebrated the first Divine Liturgy in the newly constructed church. On December 26, 1971 Bishop Roborecki celebrates the first Pontifical Devine Liturgy of Thanksgiving.
Sunday May 27, 1972 was a day of joyous celebration by the parishioners and members of neighboring Saskatoon parishes as Bishop Andrew Roborecki blessed the cornerstone and the church cross which was installed at the summit of the roof above the main entrance.
The architectural style of the church is that of a modified basilica measuring 76 x 40 feet, with an interior height of 28 feet. The imposing front wall and the facades along the longitudinal walls are finished in brick veneer. The area beneath the rectangular windows, which alternate with the facades along the side walls of the structure, is decoratively finished with glassweld in tones of pale blue and violet. Two towers on either side of the main entrance, according to the architectural plans would eventually contain cupolas.
In the interior the church is divided into the sanctuary, the nave and the vestibule. The sanctuary has an angulated ceiling, two adjoining sacristies and an elevated main altar area; the wall behind the main altar has been prepared for a painting of the church patron. The interior walls were originally finished in a combination of wood paneling and plaster-board. Massive wooden beams create facades between the rectangular windows of the longitudinal walls and apex at the center of the open-beam ceiling with wood roof decking. Both the ceiling and beams are finished in the natural color of the wood. The structure is north-south oriented with a partially enclosed vestibule at the south; confessionals are located at its south side with a stairway leading to the choir loft. Originally, the precast concrete floor was carpeted down the center aisle and sanctuary; a few years later, the entire floor was carpeted. Solid Oak Wood pews in the nave provide seating for approx. 175 persons.
Sutherland, located two miles east of Saskatoon, was an independent community until 1958 at which time it was incorporated into the City of Saskatoon. Ukrainian settlers arrived in the Sutherland area prior to 1910. They attended holy services at St. George’s Cathedral in Saskatoon and later at Sts Peter and Paul church in Saskatoon Nutana. From 1952, holy services were held occasionally in the Roman Catholic Church in Sutherland which was later purchased by the parishioners and relocated to the present site. During its initial phase the parish was served by pastors from St. George’s Cathedral and Rectors of Sheptysky Institute. In 1960 this community became an independent parish with a membership of 28 families. The first Holy Mission of the parish was held in 1961 under the direction of Rev. Michael Schudlo, CSSR. In 1968 there were 53 member families and in 1975 the parish registered 54 families. In 1976 the parish was under the directorship of Rev. Vladimir Mudri, pastor, Norbert Wasylenko, Mike Dubyk, Morris Yuzik, Michael Nehraeff, John Hnatyshyn, Joe Belosowsky, John Belosowsky, Nick Chomyn, John Hnatuk, Alex Skakun, Alex Nalywayko, Michael Bzdel, John Antonik and Michael Luzney.
During the period 1971 to 1979 with ever rising interest rates reaching over 20%, the Parish struggled financially and was busy with fundraising to pay off the loans on the building. Two to three Fund Raising Dance Socials were held annually in the Sutherland Hall and Manhattan Ball Room, with many parishioners working very diligently selling tickets, making perogies, cabbage rolls, etc. When we started our first major Fund Raising Campaign in 1975, we received a very generous donation of $5000 from Mr. Jim Patrick to initiate our campaign. After all parishioners made their donations, Mr. Patrick matched this total, concluding a successful campaign where over $35,000 was raised. This campaigned effectively reduced our mortgage in half. We then re-financed the remaining balance with the Christian Catholic Brotherhood, Toronto, at a very manageable 4.5% interest rate. The mortgage was finally paid off, with much relief and gratitude and on August 19, 1979 a special mortgage burning ceremony was held in conjunction with our 20th Anniversary Praznyk and attended by Bishop Andrew Roborecki, Father Michael Bzdel (Sts Peter & Paul Parish), Father Mudri, and our first Pastor Father Rudolph Luzney.
In 1984 our Parish celebrated its 25th Anniversary with our Pastor Fr. Leonard J. Romanow. This was the year we also welcomed His Excellency Bishop Basil Filevich to our Eparchy. Bishop Basil was always very supportive of our Parish and attended various Parish functions. In 1984 the Parish replaced the old pews with new solid light oak pews manufactured at the Prince Albert Penitentiary.
In 1985 we had in a very successful campaign in our Parish to raise funds for the St. Volodymyr Villa Eparchial Millennium Project. In 1988 we completed the installation of the two Domes on the roof of the Church which gave it that Eastern Rite appearance. Also, during the same year, through the efforts of our UCWL, two major Icons of ‘Christ the Teacher’ and ‘Mary with child Jesus’ were completed by Mr. Theodore Baran, framed and hung in the Sanctuary.
In 1977 the Parish commissioned Mr. Theodore Baran to write the main Icon “Assumption of the Holy Mother of God” located in the sanctuary, and supported on either side by a Nativity Icon and Annunciation Icon. Symbols on the upper two side walls along with an ornamental border completed the iconography in the sanctuary. The total cost for all this iconography was $3500. These Icons were initially done on canvas with oil paint at the residence of Mr. Baran. Then brought to the church and with scaffolding and ladders were affixed and glued to the sanctuary wall with the help of a few Parishioners. To emphasize the holiness and beauty of the sanctuary 24k Gold Leaf was also used.
During the period 1990 to 1995 under our Pastor Fr. John Kratko, the parish installed a large Eastern Style Chandelier along with 6 smaller ones. These were imported directly from Greece and needed some re-wiring by an Electrical Contractor to meet the electrical code. An engineer was employed to ensure the roof structure would support the weight of this large chandelier which measured about 8 feet in height. After some modifications and with the skilful hands of our Parishioners, we hoisted and successfully secured the main Chandelier to the roof beam to the delight of everyone. The entire project was handled by our Parishioners and was paid for by 6 families plus a $10,000 donation by Mr. William Smoley, and is a beautiful one-of-a kind addition to our Church.
In 1993 the Parish was growing nicely and in need of its own Rectory. A campaign was organized and within a few months a total sum of $78,000 was raised, again primarily through a very substantial and generous donation of $50,000 by Mr. William Smoley. On October 15, 1993 our Parish Priest Fr. John Kratko moved into our first rectory which is located at 123-106th Street West, Saskatoon.
In 1992 a committee was struck to commence plans to build an Iconastas. This committee visited a number of churches and looked at various styles and options. The final choice was to build one primarily of tempered glass anchored on sold wooden columns. This style allowed for some visible transparency and was favored by most of the members. The glass work was manufactured and installed by Creative Glass (Terry Kotyk). The itched motifs consisting of leafy designs, peacocks, lamb, emblem of our church was also done by Creative Glass which beautifully and meaningfully compliment this glass Iconastas. The brass trim and door frames were manufactured and installed by Luna Metal Works (Luczka Bros). All the Icons on the Iconastas were done by our own parishioner, Mr. Terry Zinkowski, who along with Fr. Kratko, was also instrumental in the creation, design and supervision of installing this unique Iconastas.
Following the successful completion of the Iconastas in 1993, the Parish continued planning additional Icons on the side walls of the Church. Along with Fr. Kratko and the committee, Terry Zinkowski, was again commissioned to provide a sketch outline of the Icons that would adorn both sides of the Church with ten major Icons located along the two walls and upper front walls. This project was satisfactorily completed in 1997 without any debt as each Icon was sponsored and paid for by various parishioners.
Icons of the Iconastas: These Icons are done in Oil paint on untempered Masonite hardboard and are glued onto the glass panels.
1) ‘Christ the Teacher’ sponsored by William & Olga Kondra in memory of Semko Kondra and Kazimer Burtney.
2) ‘Mary with Child Jesus’ sponsored by William & Olga Kondra in memory of Maria Kondra and Mary Burtney.
3) Royal Doors consisting of the following Icons: Annunciation (Mary with Arch Angel Gabriel), Evangelist Luke (sponsored by Victor & Violet Hrapchak); Evangelist John (sponsored by John & Alice Bilenski); And Evangelists Matthew and Mark.
4) The Last Supper above the Royal Doors was sponsored by our UCWL.
5) Deacons Door – St. Stephen sponsored by Iran & Patricia Kachur.
6) Deacons Door – St. Michael sponsored by Monsignor Luzney & Luzney Family in memory of Mary & Michael Luzney.
7) St. John the Baptist.
8) St. John Chrysostom, sponsored by William Dubyk, Michael & Jean Dubyk & Elsie Wozniak in memory of Kay Dubyk.
Church Interior Icons: These Icons are done in Oil paint on 4’x 8’ sheets of untempered Masonite hardboard and attached to the wall by screws. A separate 5” border surrounds each Icon, also done in oil paint is similarly attached.
1) Baptism of Ukraine – Sponsored by Paul & Sally Zultok, commemorating their family.
2) Dormition of the Mother of God – Sponsored by Hunchak & Lukowich Family.
3) The Accession of our Lord Jesus Christ – Sponsored by Joseph & Mary Hnatiw in memory of Ann Hnatiw and Dmytro Boyenko.
4) The Holy Pentecost – Sponsored by the Luzney Family in memory of Mary & Michael Luzney.
5) Patronage of the Mother of God – Sponsored by Norbert and Natalia Wasylenko, commemorating their family.
6) Exaltation of the Holy Cross – Sponsored by St. Mary’s Seniors Golden Age Action Club.
7) Crucification of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Sponsored by Paraskavia & Wasyl Butz.
8) The Holy Resurrection – Sponsored by Katherine Zinkowski & Terry & Norma Zinkowski, in memory of Mike (Dmytro) Zinkowski.
9) Symbolism of Resurrection (Easter Bread, Eggs & Willows) – Sponsored by Fr. John Kratko in memory of mother Annie Kratko.
10) Theophany Icon – Sponsored by Nick Smolinski & Children in memory of Olga Smolinski.
Our 40th Anniversary (1959-1999) was held on Sunday October 3, 1999 starting with a Devine Liturgy at 4:00pm. Father Anthony Pawliuk gave the welcoming address and Father Mitrat Vladimir Mudri was our guest speaker at the Banquet which was catered by Touch of Ukraine. A total of 91 people attended with guests from St. Georges, Sts Peter & Paul, Mission Parishes and Knights of Columbus Sheptysky Council.
On June 23, 2002 our St. Josaphat Kunsevich Council #13129 was instituted with 37 chartered members. John Kurysh was the charter Grand Knight.
Today, our Parish is served by our Pastor Father Andre Lalach and consists of 120 members totaling over 225 parishioners. The appointment of Fr. Lalach to our parish on December 14, 2008 also marked the coming together of our parish with 7 sister churches just north of Saskatoon to form the Dormition and District Parishes Pastoral District. These parishes – Bodnari (Ss. Peter & Paul), Borschiw (Ss. Peter & Paul), Hawruliuke (Sacred Heart), Laniwci (Ascension), Prud’homme (St. John the Evangelist), Smuts (St. John the Baptist), and Vonda (Sacred Heart). In addition to sharing clergy-related expenses, these parishes present another opportunity for collaboration and sharing faith together.
We acknowledge the following Clergy that have served our Parish during the past 50 years and contributed to its growth and success:
Rev.Gregory Novak; Rt.Rev.Msgr. Rudolph Luzney, First Permanent Pastor ; Rt. Rev. Msgr. John Olynyk; Rev. Alexander Ostheim-Dzerowycz; Rev. Gregory Mykoliw; Rev. Raymond Boyko; Rev. John Worona; Rev. Anthony Pawliuk; Rev.Lubomir Ramach; Rev. Roman Spolitakewych Rt.Rev.Leonard Romanow; Rt.Rev.Vladimir Mudri; Rt. Rev.Walter Kostiuk; Rev. John Kratko; Rev. Myroslaw Tataryn; Rev. George Melnyk; Rev. Zenoviy Bahriy
Former Bishops & Eparchial Administrators: Bishop Andrew Roborecki (1951-1982); Rt.Rev.Msgr. Rudolph Luzney, PH – Administrator 1982-1984); Bishop Basil Filevich (1984-1996);Bishop Emeritus Cornelius Pasichny, OSBM (1996-1998); Rt.Rev.Msgr Rudolph Luzney, PH – Administrator 1998-2001); Bishop Emeritus Michael Wiwchar, CSsR (2001-2008).