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CIUS | 14Mar2018 | Jars Balan
An Unorthodox History of the 1918 Founding of the Ukrainian (Greek)
Orthodox Church of Canada
Institute of Ukrainian Studies
Published on 23 Mar 2018
BOHDAN BOCIURKIW MEMORIAL LECTURE | SPEAKER: JARS BALAN | AN UNORTHODOX
HISTORY OF THE 1918 FOUNDING OF THE UKRAINIAN (GREEK) ORTHODOX CHURCH
Although the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Canada was formally
established in 1918, its roots can be traced back to the 1890s and the
early years of Ukrainian settlement in the Canadian West. Both Orthodox
Bukovynians and disenchanted Ukrainian Greek Catholics from Galicia
played key roles in founding a distinctly Ukrainian Orthodox Church in
Canada. However, the new church was also the result of intense
political and confessional rivalries involving the Russian Orthodox
Mission, Greek Catholic clerics, the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and
various Protestant denominations. All of these were vying, in often
bitter struggles, for the allegiance of immigrants from Ukraine at a
time when the settlers were desperate for spiritual leadership in their
Jars Balan is the author
of numerous scholarly and journalistic articles on the history of
Ukrainians in Canada. Since 2000 he has been the Administrative
Coordinator of the Kule Ukrainian Canadian Studies Centre at the
Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, and is also currently serving
as the institute’s Director.
[W.Z. The Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) has archived a large number of the lectures that it has sponsored at
[00:00] Heather Coleman
Explains that the Bociurkiw Memorial Lecture is in honour of Dr. Bohdan
Bociurkiw, who taught at the University of Alberta 1956 to 1969. He
then went to Carleton University in Ottawa to head the Institute of
Soviet and East European Studies (now Institute of European and Russian
Studies). Last book was The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the Soviet State from 1939 to 1950 remains the authoritative English-language book on the subject. He donated his extensive library and archives to CIUS in 1994.
100 year aniversary of collapse of Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires
gave rise to new states and religions -- especially among Ukrainian
immigrants in Canada.-- the founding of the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox
Church in Canada.
- Introduces Jars Balan.
[06:30] Jars Balan
- 17Jul1918 Edmonton Journal ran an article under
sensational heading "Ruthenian nationalists plan political party to
prevent assimilation with Canadians" announcing a "secret" meeting to
be held on 18Jul1918 in Saskatoon. [Politics or religion?] Kudryk,
Taras Ferley, Stechyshyn, Stratichuk, Ruryk, Zvarych and  others.
- 20Jul1918 Toronto Star -- "Independent of the Pope: Ruthenians of the West break away from Rome form new Greek Orthodox Church"
- Canadian Press report -- 12Jul1918 arrest of Bishop Budka, etc.; property to belong to community not the Bishop
- When did the first Orthodox come to America?
- 1794 Russian mission established on Kodiak Island, Alaska; among missionaries were Ukrainian clergy from Kyiv Pecherska Lavra.
1867 United States purchased Alaska from Russia; 1870 Holy synod in St.
Petersburg established a separate diocese of Alaska headquartered in
Sitka on Alaska panhandle. In 1872 it was transfered to San Francisco,
which became the centre of Russian Orthodox missionary work in North
- Orhodox priest originally from Ukraine, Father Ahapius
Honcharenko, arrived in New York in 1864, where he held Orthodox
- In 1880s, we start to get influx of
ethnic Ukrainians coming to USA (Pensylvania coal mines) from Galicia,
Transcarpathia (Greek Catholics) and a few Bukovynians (Orthodox).
Irish Catholics did not want married priests.
Russophile movement arose in response to constant pressure by Polish
Catholic authorities on Ukrainians (Greek Catholics) in Western
Ukraine. Russophile movement further split into those supporting the
Tsar (Russian Orthodox Church) and those supporting Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church dogma.
- Also had very vigorous socialist movement in Ukraine, who were skeptical of religion of all kinds.
- Protestantism making inroads.
Most importantly in North America, the immigrants were free to make
their own decisions as to the evolution of the churches they were to
establish in the United States and Canada.
of Ukrainians to Canada -- 1891 Pylypiw, Eliniak, etc. First group of 6
families (Greek Catholic) arrived at Strathcona station in Edmonton in
June 1892. Bukovynians (Orthodox) only started arriving in 1896-1897 --
100 families from 15 villages in Kitsmyn(?), Chernivtsi county by 1998
to already established "Star" area 90 km NE of Edmonton.
Bukovynian (Orthodox) settlements were also established in Manitoba and
Saskatchewan.-- a natural constituency for the Russian mission.
Among new settlers, people are dying, are being born, are getting
married -- we need clergy, we need a church -- please send priests.
Father Nestor Dmytriw (Greek Catholic), on behalf of Department of
Interior in Ottawa, visited Ukrainan settlements in Western Canada and
performed religious services for the new Ukrainian communities --
arriving to Strathcona station, Edmonton in April 1897.
group of Russophile Galicians wrote to Russian Mission in San Francisco
to send priests -- two priests arrive -- everybody attends services.
In "Star", a new church was initiated by Fr. Dmytriw. Both factions
shared the church until Easter 15Apr1901, when both the Greek Catholic
and Russian mission priests wanted to perform the Easter Service. Local
constables locked the church and the issue was submitted to the courts
right up to the Privy Council in London which ruled in favour of the
Russian Orthodox minority.
- In late summer of 1901 Bishop Tikhon
from San Francisco arrived. The Anglican church helped facilitate the
visit, since they felt an affinity with theRussian Orthodox church.
On 21Sep1898, Bukovynians wrote a letter to Metropolitan Arkady
Gybrakovych(?) in Kyiv to send priests. This was reinforced by an
article in Chernivtsi newspaper Bukovyna by Fr. Dmytriw. These were ignored by the Ukrainian religious hierarchy.
1900, Jacob (Yakiw) Korchynski (who spoke Ukrainian, Rumanian and
English) was assigned by the Orthodox mission to Alberta. [Alberta
became the real battleground between the Orthodox and Greek Catholics.]
He consolidated the Orthodox presence in Canada. He was only here until
1902, but started the St. Barbara congregation in Edmonton.
1908, he wrote a letter from New York to Michael Golda(?) in Edmonton;
ended up back in Soviet Ukraine in 1925 and probably ended tragically.]
- Ivan Soroka, who worked with Korchynski, wrote a long letter about the problems of the Orthodox faithful in Canada.
Golda(?) was the first Ukrainian to take up residence in Edmonton
[others just passed through Edmonton] by renting a room in the city
after arriving at Strathcona station on 18May1898. After arriving
in Nova Scotia in 1897, he worked his way west, and picked up enough
English to act as an interpreter for the Bellamy Agricultural Implement
Company in Edmonton. He wrote articles to Svoboda describing the problems of immigrants. Broke with the Greek Catholic church after marrying a girl from Bukovyna,
1903, the Independent Greek Church was established in Winnipeg by
Ukrainian Protestants. They were financially backed by the Presbyterian
church. [It was like a Trojan horse -- recruiting a defrocked monk
"Bishop Serafim" to consecrate some 50 priests.] It spread like a grass
fire across Western Canada with some 50,000 adherents. In about 1911,
after the Presbyterians insisted on getting rid of the Eastern rite
services and the Ukrainian language, the adherents deserted in droves.
World War One had an interesting impact. It initially favoured the
Russophile faction, since Britain was allied with Russia. Canada
interned Ukrainian "aliens" as enemies.The Bolshevik revolution in 1917
created havoc. Ukraine proclaimed independence. The Ukrainian (Greek)
Orthodox Church of Canada was born during a time of great turmoil.
The Ukrainian "intelligentsia" in Canada was dissillusioned with the
Greek Catholic Church hierarchy, especially the unfortunate letter of
Bishop Budka calling on Ukrainians to support the Austro-Hungrian
Empire (i.e. Germany). They felt that the Greek Catholic church was
insufficiantly supportive of the Ukrainian language and culture.
Metropolitan Platon (Orthodox) and Bishop Alexander Nemylovsky (from
Volyn)) were willing to consecrate clergy for the new Ukrainian church,
but this was nixed by the Russophile faction in the United States.
- Finally, the Syrian Orthodox Bishop Germanus Shagidi(?) in the United States ended up heading up the new church for 3 years.
- A Rumanian priest, Fr. Lazar German from Bukovyna, trained many new priests; some priests from other denominations also joined.
[1:05:50] Heather Coleman: -- Q&A
Q1: You said the Ukrainian Orthodox church did not exist in Ukraine prior to 1918.
Need 2 hierarchs to create a third heirarch. "Laying on of hands"
precedent from Alexandria allows 2 priests to create a bishop. The new
bishop and clergy create a second bishop. Then the 2 bishops create a
third bishop, etc. In Canada we built the church from the bottom up and
not from the top down.
- Examples of many priests switching allegiances between Orthodox and Greek Catholic denominations.
Q2 - Fr. Cornell Zuzbritsky: Example of someone in Ukraine killed in 1941, who has been diefied in Russian Orthodox church.
A: Would like to get more details form Rev. Zubritsky.
Q3 - Ihor: For decades the UGOCC parishioners were called "Swystuny".
Obviously, a disparaging reference to Wasyl Swystun -- one of the
founders . He was Greek Catholic, challenged Bishop Budka directly,
became rector of Petro Mohyla Institute in Saskatoon (when it was
Q4: Concerning Bishop Budka letter.
A: Tensions were very high in English community concerning Ukrainian immigrants.
Q5 - Bill: Family history relates to physical altercations between Greek Catholics and Orthodox in 1900.
A: Certainly within the realm of possibility. Bukovynian church in 1921 voted which way to go -- One vote decided that it stay with the Russian mission.
- Jean-Paul Himka: Most activists appear to be Greek Catholics. Were
Bukovynians right there at the beginning of the ball game?
The first Ukrainian Orthodox serivice was celebrated in Suchowa
(just south of Andrew). In 1916, they lost their priest (no money from
Russian mission), but there is a church there and the manse is empty.
The first priest of the Ukrainina Greek Orthodox Church was ...
[1:20:26] ABRUPT END