On January 6th and 7th our parish again celebrated the great feast of the Nativity of Our Lord according to the Julian Calendar. Royal Hours were officiated on the morning of the 6th, and then at 9 PM Great Compline with Litia was served, followed by Christmas Carolling in the Church. On the morning of the 7th the Divine Liturgy was celebrated.
It was wonderful to see so many of our parishioners, friends, and family members in attendance. As usual our choir sang beautifully, and it was especially edifying to see the number of faithful who approached for the Holy Mysteries of Confession and Communion. As has become an annual custom, the children and parents of our Ukrainian Heritage School came to the parish residence in the afternoon of the 7th to sing traditional Ukrainian carols and offer blessings and good wishes to Father and Presbytera.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
An exciting event in the life of our parish is quickly approaching - the completion, blessing, and grand opening of our new Parish Hall.
For decades the Odesa Hall was the community centre of our parish, where festive meals, fellowship after Liturgy, our Fiesta Pavilion, Weddings reeptions and funeral luncheons were held; where our Odessa Dancers rehearsed, youth gathered for various social, cultural, and education events, etc. Due to the age of the hall and its condition, the parish decided to close it and build a new hall which would better serve the needs of our community.
The old hall was demolished three years ago, and this past year, following the reception of all permits and approvals, construction began on our new hall. The new hall will be attached to the Church, with barrier-free washrooms, a kitchen, and an accessible entrance to the Church so that all those with any physical challenges will be able to easily enter our beautiful temple as well.
We are very blessed to have Fayer Construction as our builder, and happy to report that construction is proceeding on time and on budget. The blessing and official opening will be held sometime this spring, after Pascha. It will be wonderful to again have a warm, comfortable, and pleasant space where our dancers can rehears, where we can enjoy community meals and fellowship together, and hold education and cultural events.
Special thanks are due to all the members of our building committee, who have done such outstanding work in bringing this project to fruition.
If you would like to donate towards this much needed and very worthwhile project you may do so by making a donation in the parish office either before or after services; by dropping off your donation at the parish residence next to the Church; or by mailing your cheque to:
St. John the Baptist UOC, Building Project
35 Bloor St. East
Oshawa, ON L1H 3L9
Stay tuned for details regaridng the official opening. We look forward to seeing you!
Our Parish "Holy Protection" Sisterhood has always been actively aupporting charitable causes in our community. This past autumn the Sisterhood organized two very successful drives, first in August to gather back packs and school supplies, and again in November/December to gather food and gift cards for Simcoe Hall/Settlement House, a charitable agency just north of us who offer programs and charitable aid for the less fortunate in our area. Due to the overwhelming generosity of our parishioners, the Sisterhood members obtained over 25 back packs and other school items in August, and have gathered over $1,100 in gift cards and food for the Christmas season, helping assure that no one in our neighbourhood be hungry during this festive season.
On Saturday, November 30th, our parish sponsored its annual Autumn Spiritual Retreat. Due to the fact that our new parish hall is not yet completed the retreat was held again at Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church here in Oshawa. Our main speaker was Hieromonk Michael of St. Gregory Palamas Greek Orthodox Monastery in Ohio, who spoke to the teens and adults about the life and teaching of Mother Gavrilia of Leros, "The Ascetic of Love," as well as about Orthodoxy and the Environment. The younger participants were led by Jane Pfeil of Toronto in a session during which, through reading and art they explored the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus Christ. The women of the Evangelismos Philoptochos prepared wonderful snacks, and after Vespers everyone enjoyed their delicious dinner. We were blessed to have Fr. Michael concelebrate Liturgy and preach on Sunday morning, and it was a special treat for him to serve the Holy Liturgy on Monday morning, December 2nd as well, for the feast of St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvia. Everyone who participated in the retreat program as well as the liturgical services was very edified, and benefitted greatly. A special note of thanks is due to the St. Volodymyr Cathedral Foundation of Toronto who made this retreat possible with a very generous donation.
Our Orthodox Christian Family Fellowship has had an exciting and fulfilling autumn season. Besides our regular activities which include singing, folk dancing, religious lessons, art, crafts, and other activities, we were blessed with a visit by Mother Macrina of the Holy Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan in November, as well as a visit from Holy Father Nicholas in December. Both the children and the parents who participate are very grateful for the chance to develop new friendships and learn more deeply about our Orthodox Christian Faith. We invite all the young families in our area - Orthodox or non-Orthodox, Ukrainian or non-Ukrainian - to join us!
On Sunday, April 28th, our parish celebrated the Bright Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord. Following the Lenten Fast and the solemn services of Holy Week, the Paschal services were a source of great joy to everyone. At the conclusion of Paschal Matins Fr. Bohdan distributed a red egg, symbolic of Christ's resurrection, to everyone. Many of the faithful approached for Holy Communion at the Divine Liturgy, and the Church was full to overflowing. Before the blessing of Paschal Foods our council president, Dr. Paul Slavchenko, greeted everyone with the joyous news that the much-awaited groundbreaking for our new parish hall would be held the following day, and invited everyone present to attend. In addition, he thanked everyone for their generous financial support of this necessary project. Our parish was blessed again this year with the presence of His Grace, Bishop Andriy, who presided at Paschal Vespers. Christ is Risen!
On November 10th St. John's hosted a parish spiritual retreat. Fr. Dr. Timothy Chrapko from Calgary offereda presentation on "The Liturgy after the Liturgy;" Yuri Hladio of Hamilton spoke about narrative in the Church and popular culture; and Dr. Peter Kondra offered thoughts on how to maintain a healthy Orthodox faith in our family lives. Over 85 participants from St. John's and Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church in Oshawa, as well as participants from other parishes in the GTA enjoyed the fellowship as well as the spiritual lessons offered. The retreat concluded with Vespers.
On Sunday morning Fr. Timothy concelebrated the Liturgy with Fr. Bohdan at St. John's and offered the homily. The weekend was spiritually uplifting and beneficial for all.
St. John's wishes to thank the St. Volodymyr Cathedral Foundation, as well as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada foundation for their generous financial support in making this retreat possible.