50th Anniversary Jubilee of the Eparchy. 1974-2024

To the Clergy, Women Religious, Lay Faithful and all Friends and supporters of the Eparchy of New Westminster, Canada

Христос Воскрес!     Christ is Risen!  

First Seeds Planted and Cultivated

Although some historic research suggests that Ukrainians may have made their way to British Columbia to take advantage of the gold rush of the 1870s, the Ukrainian Catholic presence in the territory of today’s Eparchy of New Westminster can definitely be documented back to when Basilian missionaries made contact with Ukrainian immigrants in 1904. 

The Ukrainian Basilian Fathers who had only started establishing themselves in central Canada and Alberta, managed to send a missionary, Father Anton Strotsky, to British Columbia in 1904 to connect with members of the Ukrainian Community who were already working in the mines and operating their own orchards.

Besides Fr. Strotsky, our Eparchy is grateful to the  Basilian Fathers who contributed so much to the growth of the Ukrainian Catholic presence in British Columbia for some 120 years now. They especially developed the parish of St. Mary’s in Vancouver, but they also engaged in mission  activity throughout the  lower mainland  and other parts of the 

territory. Of course, the first two bishops of the Eparchy – Bishop Jerome Chimy and Bishop Severian Yakymyshyn – were chosen from the Order of Saint Basil the Great.  Aside from monastic missionaries many dedicated secular priests – Canadian-born and 

from abroad – also devoted themselves to serving God’s People wherever they settled throughout the territory of the Eparchy – long before and ever sense it was established. Names of ‘Fathers’ like Bilyk, Galarnyk, Hanushevsky, Olsen, Sabara and the Studite Stek, are only a few of dozens and dozens of dedicate priests who are fondly remembered by people whose lives they touched.  

We want to acknowledge the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate who were already visiting British Columbia from the 1920s, teaching Catechism and Religion classes around the province. They especially became involved with the new Eparchy right from the very beginning – working with youth and various organizations like UCWLC and the UCBC. They facilitated missions and enhancing the life of parishes. To this day, the Sisters participate in parish events, lead liturgical services, maintain reception at the Chancery Offices and serve as members of Eparchial councils.     

The Eparchy was blessed by visits of several illustrious Church leaders over the years. Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, making his way across Canada in 1910 to learn of the pastoral needs of the Ukrainian settlements, visited Vancouver hoping to organize some Church activity. Bishop and Martyr Blessed Nytkyta Budka visited in 1925 when he consecrated the new church in Grindrod. The hero and confessor who survived 18 years in the Soviet Gulag, Patriarch Josepf Slipyj visited in 1968. We may mention the 1984 Visit of Pope Saint John Paul II. He did not visit the Ukrainian community in this part of Canada per se, but he acknowledged their generous participation, “I am likewise deeply grateful for all who have made great efforts to come from […] the Eparchy of New Westminster under the leadership of Bishop Chimy”. Soon after his assuming the leadership of the UGCC, the Father and Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Cardinal Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky came in 1986. Following a meeting of the Permanent Synod in Edmonton in 2008, the then head of our Church, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, visited the Eparchy of New Westminster. His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk visited in 2012 as Canada celebrated the 100th anniversary of the appointment of the abovementioned Blessed Nykyta as the first Ukrainian Catholic Bishop to Canada. At that time, he blessed the Bishop Jerome Eparchial Centre, which had been newly renovated by Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski. Speaking of Church leaders, our eparchy has also provided a few. Among them are Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak of Winnipeg and Bishop Paul Chomnycky of Stamford, who were born grew up within our Eparchy. 

Of course, many of our parishes preceded the establishment of the Eparchy of New Westminster in 1974. They will be mentioned in other Jubilee material, but we certainly can mention those that were established as parishes early on in the early 1900s. Some soon even had their first churches built. St. Anne at Mount Cartier and Sts Peter and Paul in Grindrod were the first churches built in 1922 and 1924 respectively. St Mary’s in Vancouver served by the Fathers of the Basilian community has grown from its early missionary pastoral activity into an inspiring campus of facilities and residences as well as the large modern church rom 1982. St. Nicholas in Coldstream and St. Josaphat in Vernon are among the many parishes that were formed in the first half of the 20th Century and are still functioning today. Many other parishes soon blossomed immediately after the Second World War. Ukrainians in centres like Victoria, Kamloops and New Westminster, among others, soon organized themselves, requested priests to provide pastoral care and quickly grew into the active parishes that they are today.    

A number of our parishes faded away into the costal mists over the years. Names like Revelstoke, Port Alberni and the Kootenays, among several more, were established mission points back in the day. On the other hand, however, with the influx of newcomers from Ukraine over the past couple of years, new, hopeful centres of pastoral activity are appearing on the map. The Comox Valley, Maple Ridge, Abbottsford, among others, are now places of pastoral outreach. The potential of cities like Chilliwack, where pastoral activity had to be abandoned at some point, are now being explored for revival once again. 

The Establishment of Our Eparchy

After having been petitioned by the Ukrainian Catholic Church and after consulting the Catholic Church in Canada and seeing that the pastoral needs were obvious and that the time had truly come, Pope Saint Paul VI canonically established the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of New Westminster on 27 June 1974. It was a vast territory that included the Province of British Columbia, the Yukon Territory and a western portion of the Northwest Territories. The Eparchy of Edmonton ceded the pastoral care of this region to the new Bishop of the new Eparchy – Bishop Jerome Chimy, OSBM, who was consecrated and enthroned on 5 September 1974 at the newly designated Cathedral of the Holy Eucharist in New Westminster.

I am the 4th Bishop of the Eparchy of New Westminster, yet actually the fifth bishop in as many decades to serve the good faithful of this area. We are also grateful to our interim Apostolic Administrator in the person of Bishop David Motiuk, who guided us for almost four years. In the relatively short while that I have been here since my being proposed by our Synod of Bishops and my formal appointment by Pope Francis in August of last year, I have come to know the dedicated clergy and religious that serve this Eparchy. The faithful laypersons that have made the Eparchy their home bring their hope and enthusiasm to the parishes and missions scattered around the cities and towns of the lush costal area and the majestic mountains. God willing, we will soon be able to offer pastoral services to those who have settled in the northernmost regions of the Eparchy in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. I am blessed with the honour of overseeing the celebration of our Golden Jubilee celebrations. This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us together – the faithful, the clergy and the friends of our Eparchy – to refresh ourselves in this Jubilee oasis by reflecting on our past and assessing where we now find ourselves. Then, let us take up the challenge of continuing the spiritual pilgrimage into the next 50 years of living and growing in our faith and, by the grace and love of God, sharing it with whomever we can.

Our Celebrations

This year, 2024, the Eparchy would like to have many local celebrations of our Jubilee on the parish level so that all of our parishioners and visitors may participate in the commemorations and spiritual benefits. We encourage each parish and mission to consider creating a Jubilee event that would include a Eucharistic Liturgy and some repast, but also an educational, spiritual program that would empower the community to look forward to the coming years of activity.

1. In fact, as our Eparchy was actually founded 50 years ago on June 27th, the Jubilee Committee wants to encourage all our Parishes to hold their local Jubilee celebration on the Sunday prior to that date (since we are all meeting at our Grindrod Parish the following weekend on the 29th). Therefore, unless parishes are planning something for later in the year, it is suggested that they hold their local parish Eparchial Jubilee Celebration on Sunday 23 June 2024.

2. Presently there are two major events planned on the all-eparchial level. This includes the first Annual Eparchial Pilgrimage which will take place this year at our Parish in Grindrod on the weekend of Saturday 29 June 2024 coinciding with their parish feast of Saints Peter and Paul as the parish also celebrates its centenary this year! Among the various activities on that weekend, the unveiling of the Marian Icon of our Eparchy will take place. The new icon of the Mother of God is presently being written and will be blessed at Grindrod.

3, The second major Jubilee event will be a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Saturday the 28 September 2024 at our beautiful Cathedral of the Holy Eucharist in New Westminster led by bishops from around Canada and to which all the faithful of our Eparchy are invited. The celebration will include a meal and various presentations. The days leading up to this key commemoration will include seminars, family festivities and celebrations in the Metro Vancouver area. 

Please share your thoughts and ideas with your local parish and with the Jubilee Committee via jubilee@nweparchy.ca or write to Jubilee Committee, 502 Fifth Ave. New Westminster, BC, V3L 1S2 or through your parish priest.

May our Lord continue to richly bless our Eparchy as He has over the last half century. May the Lord inspire us during our Jubilee year to wisely and boldly plan for the journey forward with Him, His Blessed Mother and all the patron Saints of our Eparchy!

Christ is Risen!

Most Rev. Michael Kwiatkowski

Bishop of New Westminster

Issued 16 April 2024 at the Cathedral of the Holy Eucharist

New Westminster, British Columbia