60th Anniversary Celebrations of the
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral
On October 17th and 18th, 2009 our parish joyously and memorably celebrated its 60th Anniversary. Parishioners and guests from our sister parishes of St. Sophie Cathedral and St. Mary the Protectress (Svyata Pokrova) Church in Montreal were joined by former parishioners from Winnipeg, Niagara-on-the-Lake and New York State to enjoy the many activities of the two-day celebration.
The weekend started the morning of Saturday, October 17th with a memorial service at the parish cemetery. Following the service, an Open House was conducted at church which included church tours and a display of the parish collection of priest's various vestments and the many embroidered decorative cloths. In the evening, Vespers were followed by the Anniversary Reception Honouring the Past. The church hall was decorated with pink roses, soft candlelight and banners depicting the bas relief found on the exterior of the church, a theme that was carried throughout the celebration. The bas relief was designed by the church's architect, the late Yuri Kodak, and was inspired by the New Testament scriptures. Over 100 guests enjoyed a delicious light buffet, catered by parishioner Larissa Beznaczuk-Smyrnew, and sampled some fine Ontario and international wines. A concert featuring vocal performances by parishioners Larissa Mason and Olenka Reshitnyk, the Ottawa's Ukrainian Men's Choir AKORD, and guest artist violin virtuoso Vasyl Popadiuk was truly entertaining and impressive. The evening's program concluded with the official launch of the 60th Anniversary Commemorative Book.
In honour of the 60th anniversary, the Commemorative Anniversary Book was published to chronicle the history of the parish. It took over a year to collect the information and photographs, and to compile, write and translate the stories of this 144-page bilingual English-Ukrainian publication. Sources included parish archives, parishioners' memories and even investigative internet searches by the Anniversary Book Committee, the members of which were Halyna Beznaczuk, Vera Hutzuliak, Irene Kodak, Irene Lind, Lisa Malarek, Tatiana Martschenko, and Nina Romas (Committee Chair). The book is an impressive and unique publication, a narrative history as well as a story in photographs that will be treasured by present and future generations.
The celebrations continued on Sunday, October 18th with the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy served by His Eminence Archbishop Yurij, Bishop of Toronto and the Eastern Eparchy, parish priest Fr. Ihor Okhrimtchouk, and guest priests Fr. Victor Lakusta (Acting Chancellor of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada (UOCC)), Fr. Roman Bozyk (who was our parish priest from 1981-1992) and Fr. Ihor Kutash (who was our parish priest in 1999-2000). The church was filled to capacity with parishioners and many out-of-town guests and the church choir beautifully sang the Divine Liturgy, with the help of several members of Ottawa's Ukrainian Men's Choir AKORD.
Following the Divine Liturgy, the wonderful autumn weather allowed a group photo to be taken in front of the church after which about 170 parishioners and guests gathered in the church hall for the Anniversary Banquet. We were honoured that four of the founders and pioneers of the parish attended the event – Iryna and Walter Mushka, Walentyna Sawczenko and Halyna Zelem.
During the banquet, Fr. Ihor Okhrimtchouk was recognized for the 10th anniversary of his ordination in the UOCC and Archbishop Yurij was recognized for the 20th anniversary of his elevation to the Episcopate in the UOCC. Greetings were offered from the three Ukrainian Orthodox parishes in Montreal, our neighbour parish of Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church, the Ukrainian Embassy, Ottawa West-Nepean M.P.P. Jim Watson, the Ottawa branch of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress, and the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (Ottawa). After the greetings the guests enjoyed a short concert featuring vocal performances by parishioners Larissa Mason, Oleh Belkin and Iryna Smishna as well as a repeat performance by Vasyl Popadiuk. Many of those who attended commented that the different activities, musical entertainment and Anniversary Book launch make for a perfect 60th anniversary celebration.
Archbishop Yurij commented that our parish is in a wonderful stage of ascendency and encouraged the parish to continue in its efforts. He summarized the celebrations as follows: “The 60th Anniversary celebrations united the members of the Assumption Blessed Virgin Cathedral in Ottawa in both a prayerful commemoration of the founding members of the parish and afforded an opportunity to the younger members of the Cathedral to demonstrate that the continued growth and development of the parish is in capable and talented hands.”
The 60th Anniversary Committee was composed of Halyna Beznaczuk, Natalka Foty Mason, Dean Mason, Tatiana Martschenko and Fr. Ihor Okhrimtchouk. The committee expresses its heart-felt gratitude to the many volunteers who contributed their time and talents over the past six months and during the two-day event – their dedication made the anniversary celebrations successful and a truly memorable event.
Another important component of the parish's 60th anniversary is its ongoing Anniversary 60 Campaign, which began in June 2009, to raise funds for several significant church beautification and renovation projects, including iconography inside the church. The campaign objective is $250,000, with about $65,000 already donated. In addition, the Lesia Ukrainka branch of the Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada has generously funded the refinishing of the hardwood floors in the church and on the church hall stage and the replacement of the carpet in the church.
Our Cathedral is a beacon of Ukrainian Orthodoxy in our nation's capital and a tribute to the contribution of many Ukrainians in building this wonderful country. We invite everyone who visits Ottawa to take time to visit our Cathedral. To continue our heritage we welcome donations that will contribute to our growth as the representative of Ukrainian Orthodoxy in Canada's capital.
For more information about our parish, purchasing the 60th Anniversary Book and the Anniversary 60 Campaign, please contact Diane Coté in our church office at 613-728-0856 or
Submitted by Halyna Beznaczuk
The 60th Anniversary Commemorative Book committee has published an illustrated history of our parish from 1949 to 2009. Click on Photo Gallery to view photographs of the 60th anniversary celebration on October 17 and 18, 2009. See article published in Visnyk (December 2009).