It is such a treat to be able to reflect for a few minutes on how the experiences you have entrusted to me have enriched my life.
From October 3-6, I was immersed in the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League national congress in Toronto and what a learning experience it was! As they meet only once every three years, they were celebrating the 75th anniversary and 26th congress of the organization. Olha Karaim of the Toronto eparchy was my e-mail contact as I prepared for this unique event in my presidency. I had been practising “Hello,” “Good evening,” and “Thank you” in Ukrainian. I believe I heard a collective intake of breath as I brought greetings Thursday evening. I did not ask if it were because they were touched or because my pronunciation was so bad. That evening, I was able to visit with Marion Barszczyk, Toronto eparchy, and national president. I had previously met Barbara Hlus, of Edmonton, national president-elect, at the 99th annual convention in Calgary, and looked forward to reacquainting with her. Both women were among the many delightful women I met.
As it happened, I was able to sit with members of the Edmonton eparchy, including Barbara, who explained and translated for me throughout the congress. Two of the objects of the organization which resonated with me were its commitment to maintaining the Ukrainian language and supporting Ukraine. Indeed, many attendees wore ensembles they had purchased in the country. Three beautiful presentations focused on the past, present and future of the organization as part of the 75th anniversary. The closing Divine Liturgy and installation of the new executive on Sunday, followed by brunch, put a point on an experience I will not forget.
If you ever get the chance to visit the Holodomor Mobile Classroom when it comes to your community, I highly recommend it. Based in Toronto, it is a travelling museum that focuses education on the forced famine of the Ukrainian people in the early 1930s. It is estimated between two and eleven million citizens perished during a short period of time. I am ashamed to say I had known little about this genocide. I visited the classroom twice when not at meetings, and have carried all those dear people, and those whose work commemorates the history, in my prayers.
The constant prepping for meetings, reading, writing and proofing, travelling, and making notes have meant a busy and full fall season. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. Now, we prepare for the beginning of a new church year, after the poignant Feast of Christ the King. The essay, “Advent Matters,” by Deacon Greg Kandra will be on my reading list for years to come. The author has kindly permitted its reprint on the national website and Facebook pages. I respectfully suggest all read, it, smile, and share with someone you love.
God bless until next time…