Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Bazaar in Hamilton

On Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary/Usnutia Bohorodicky, Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church in Hamilton held their Christmas Bazaar. The day began with the Divine Liturgy, which was followed by a luncheon, Christmas carols and raffle in the church hall along with a visit from St. Nicholas. There were cabbage rolls, perohies, dumplings (knedle), pastries and other items on display and available for purchase. Volunteers prepared a wonderful meal with a number of them also baking. The hall was decorated in festive colours. Jan Rinik painted a lovely backdrop depicting St. Nicholas in Slovakia distributing gifts to children dressed in traditional Slovak costumes. And a small town on display brought much excitement and joy to the children who found themselves mesmerized by it. Victoria Rusnak recounted the story of St. Nicholas, the Bishop and Wonderworker of Myra and Michal Cvercko played Christmas carols on his accordion. Two outstanding soloists preformed. Vasek Baliar sang a selection of Christmas carols to the applause of all while Joe Ridos sang a song dedicated to St. Nicholas in honour of the loyal servant of God who had not forgotten our beautiful church and the children waiting patiently for him. At the end Fr. Jozef Mucha thanked everyone for coming together and working so hard to make the day such a beautiful one. He reminded everyone of the coming birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the present time of St. Philip’s Fast in preparation for Christ’s birth, and our roles as followers of Christ.
As we patiently await the birth of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ in the coming days, we invite everyone to join us during Christmas in our church in Hamilton to joyously proclaim Christos Razdajetsja! Kristus sa Narodil! Christ is Born!

A Parishioner,
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary/Usnutia Bohorodicky
Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church
Hamilton, Ontario

Sunday, December 5, 2010

St. Nicholas at Cathedral of Nativity of Mother of God

After being absent from the Cathedral for a few years, St. Nicholas once again found his way to visit the good children on December 6th. For a few weeks previous to his visit, there were rumours that St. Nicholas would be stopping by the Cathedral and parents and grandparents were urged to bring their children so they would not miss this occasion. And sure enough, as December 5th came, there was a lot of activity at the church and in the hall: the decorations were in place, the tables were set and the kitchen was in full swing. Following the liturgy, all gathered in the hall. The children were sitting at the back of the hall listening to a story about the Birth of Jesus, when all of a sudden, someone said that the children should start singing some Christmas carols. They had to sing nice and loud so that St. Nicholas would be able to hear them and stop by. After a few carols, St. Nicholas came down the stairs and headed for the group of children. He spoke to them, asked them if they had been good and whether they listened to their parents throughout the year. Having satisfied himself that they were indeed very good, he sat beside the Christmas tree and with the help of a couple of church elders, he handed out present that he brought. Each child picked up his/hers special gift and every child also received a goodie bag filled with chocolates, fruits and nuts – the traditional gift from St. Nicholas. Fr. Andrew must have been good because his name was also called and he received a special gift. St. Nicholas then patiently posed with the children as parents took pictures with this wonderfully caring Bishop who is also a great friend to children throughout the world. Since St. Nicholas had to deliver gifts to other children, he posed for one more group picture, then said good bye and headed out.
The children were then treated to hotdogs, French fries, chocolate milk and timbits. And since St. Nicholas Day is a special day for children, they were also able to make some Christmas crafts: some children created small gift boxes using last year’s Christmas cards, others coloured gingerbread boys and girls and others still made some Christmas wreaths from pipe cleaners and coloured beads. All in all, children were happy because they were able to see St. Nicholas and received gifts, parents and grandparents were happy because their families were in church together and Fr. Andrew was happy because he had so many people in church for the Feast of St. Nicholas.
Big thank you goes to members of Ladies’ Guild who decorated the hall, prepared gifts and prepared the luncheon for our children and parishioners. Also, thank you to the church elders for being St. Nicholas’ helpers. Thank you also to the parents and grandparents who brought the children and grandchildren to this occasion and a special thank you to Fr. Andrew for his special sermon for the Feast of St. Nicholas. It was wonderful to see all the smiling faces: not only the children but also the parents and grandparents. It is heart-warming to see that the tradition continues.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Odpust in Windsor

Feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, patron saint of our Windsor parish has been celebrated for more than 50 years. This year, it was celebrated November 14th 2010. After all the preparatory work: cleaning of the church, the rectory and the hall, and especially the decorating, the long awaited day arrived. Everyone looked forward to the arrival of Bishop John, who presided the hierarchical liturgy. Also present was Fr. Deacon Lawrence Hendricks, from the Sacred Heart Parish in Livonia, MI together with his wife Anne. Altar server was Dr. Winsen Peter Cyril Zouzal, son of the late Msgr. Anthony P. Zouzal, who served the parish for almost two decades. Several guest cantors assisted: Mrs. Anne (Siroka) Pawluszka from St. Basil's Church, Detroit, MI, and Mr. Greg and Mr. Nicholas Nagrant Sr. with his son Michael from the Sacred Heart Church, Livonia, MI. The first priest was Fr. Martin Vavrak, pastor of the church. The liturgy started with a solemn procession and the chant "Vosel jesi". In his homily Bishop John’s focus was on the good example of the Merciful Samaritan that we heard about in the Gospel of the Sunday. “Mnoholitsvije” was sung at the conclusion of the liturgy, followed by anointment with the blessed oil. Faithful together with the clergy then moved to the hall where a delicious dinner was served. Rich cultural and spiritual program followed. We were also joined by Fr. Andrej Sipek, who served this parish in the past, and by Fr. Jozef Mucha, pastor of our church in Hamilton, ON. More than 100 parishioners and guests took part in this year’s celebration making it a success once again. In general we consider the odpust of 2010 as a perfect one.
Fr. Martin Vavrak

Photo credits: Mrs. Anka Vavrak

More photos available at:

Christmas Bake Sale and Bazaar

We know Christmas is just around the corner when the local churches are starting to advertise their Christmas Bazaars and Bake Sales. Our own Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God on Shaw St in Toronto is one of those churches. A couple of months before the sale, orders started pouring in for holubky and pirohy. Then a month before the actual event, members of the Ladies’ Guild gathered in the church hall organizing and preparing. First they made a couple of thousand pirohy with potato and cheese, cottage cheese and kapusta. When those were all packaged, they found out that they received more orders, so the following week they made another batch of pirohy and then they started on holubky. As it turned out, they had to make holubky three times! They make them so good that people place orders more than once! Their latest session for making holubky was the Saturday before the bake sale and at that time, we made 96 dozens of them. I am not sure about the rest of the ladies however the night before the bake sale I continued making holubky in my dreams!
The day of the sale, ladies started coming in early in the morning to package all the baking that was brought to the hall. Just looking at the rozky, tortes, cakes, rolls, rum balls, knedle, special cheese spreads, bobalky, fudge squares, bacon, cookies, pirohy & holubky made all of us hungry. It was nice to see more people in the church than we normally have – Fr. Andrew had only one liturgy. Everyone came to the hall and all the pirohy and almost all the baking was gone before lunch was served. For lunch, the ladies prepared a very tasty meatloaf, stuffed peppers, potatoes and salad. Coffee and cake followed for deserts. Some of our more talented ladies knitted slippers, made interesting “bunnies” with tea towels and wash cloths, crocheted some beautiful afghans, made bibs for people in nursing homes or hospitals, and other items suitable for stocking stuffers. Tickets were sold for a raffle of beautiful and useful items and many people went home with baked goods and also with items they won in the raffle. Once the raffle was done, some late comers were still able to buy cabbage rolls. This was great because at many of our bake sales, if you are not there early, you get nothing – it’s all sold out. Not this year, we had enough for all who were there.
One thing I noticed at this year’s bake sale and bazaar is that we also had some young people and families who attended and lent a hand in the kitchen – especially washing and drying dishes. Your help was truly appreciated. It was great to see you there and even greater to have you participate. In this day and age, when many churches are closing, it is more important than ever to encourage our young families to attend and welcome their help – they are our future. Thank you all for coming and supporting our Cathedral and we hope you had as much fun buying the items as we had making them for you.
A very special thank you goes to the Ladies’ Guild members and some of our “kurators” who came out to help before, during and after the Bake Sale. We all know that the hall doesn’t clean itself, the tables do not get set up and put away by themselves and the groceries do not walk in and place themselves on the kitchen counter by themselves. Behind all those actions stands either a member of the Ladies’ Guild who is willing to drive from store to store to get the best price for the ingredients or another member of the church who is willing to help out. Thank you for making sure that our sales are always successful. Many thanks also go to Fr. Andrew who faithfully serves us every Friday and Sunday and any other time his services are required.
Mary Siroky - Snell
More photos available at:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Invitation to Windsor

St. Michael's Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church cordially invites all to their annual


Sunday, November 14th, 2010 at 1PM

Cost: $27 per person, students $17, children $7
Priests and their ladies for free!
For tickets call until Nov. 10th, 2010 Dr. Joe Stasko 1. 519.948.0919 evening

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Invitation to Oshawa

Protection of the Mother of God Catholic Church

cordially invites you to our


Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 1 PM

464 Ritson Rd. S., Oshawa
(905) 245 0629
(RSVP by September 26)

Divine Liturgy 1 PM
Banquet in Parish Hall 3 PM

Tickets are 20 $
Children under 10 years are free

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shaw Street Odpust

Sunday, September 12, 2010 was a very special day at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God on Shaw St in Toronto. Even though the clouds were threatening, the day was perfect in every way. Members of the Women's Auxiliary arrived early in the morning to make sure the food and the hall was prepared. Guests and parishioners began gathering well in advance of the liturgy. At exactly 1pm, the procession of cross bearer, clergy, novices & Bishop John Pazak, C.Ss.R., entered the church and moved to the front while parishioners and guests sang “Vosel jesi, Archijereju – You have entered, Most Holy Bishop”. Following the blessing from Bishop John with dikirion & trikirion to the four corners of the world, Fr. Andrew began the liturgy at the altar. Fr. Mucha (Hamilton), Fr. Girhiny (Burlington) and Fr. Williams (Oshawa) surrounded Bishop John as he sat in front of the tetrapod. They all joined Fr. Andrew at the altar following the small entrance. The clergy were later joined by Fr. Rybansky (Mississauga). Homilies were given by Bishop John in English and Fr. Mucha in Slovak. The liturgy was in English for the first half and Slovak for the second half. It was so wonderful to see the church almost full. At the end of the liturgy, the faithful received anointing (myrovanie) and all were invited to the parish hall for a delicious meal. The program began with the intermediate dancers from Vychodna Dance Group. They performed 2 dances: Taky som ja parobocok & Karicky. It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm from the young dancers. All this is possible thanks to the dedication of parents, grandparents, instructors and of course, the willingness of the young people. Delicious meal and “out of this world” baking prepared by members of the Women's Auxiliary and parishioners followed. Guests at the head table were introduced and a warm welcome was extended to special guests: Fr. Ray, assistant novice master (Edmonton), Fr. Gary, novice director (St. Louis) and 6 novices: Ashford (St. Lucia), Son (Vietnam), Peter (Scotland), Calvin (Dominica) and David and Anthony (both from New York). These guests were from International Novitiate for the Redemptorists in Toronto – Perpetual Help Residence.

The Feast Day of the Nativity of the Mother of God also marks the priestly anniversary of bot
h our pastor, Fr. Andrew Kormanik and Fr. John Girhiny. This year, they celebrated their 35th anniversary of priesthood. To honour this day, Madeline Tubaro, a young parishioner, presented Fr. Andrew with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and her brother, William Tubaro presented flowers to Fr. Girhiny. “Mnohaja lit” was sung to both. Fr. Williams extended an invitation to the odpust in Oshawa, October 3rd, Fr. Girhiny thanked everyone for remembering the anniversaries, Bishop reminded all catholic school board supporters to make sure they know who they are voting in this fall and MC thanked everyone for their help right from cleaning, organizing, cooking and baking. Without all the help, this event would not have been possible. “Mnohaja lit” was also sung for the kitchen staff. At the conclusion of the celebration, MC reminded all that if we want to have our churches filled we need to recognize, listen to, cooperate, communicate with and especially encourage the younger generation to join in our liturgies and special events. As an example, she used the Pilgrimage in Uniontown, PA, where young people participated in every liturgy and every procession, including the beautiful singing of Marian hymns, Christmas carols and other church songs long into the night.

Mary Siroky - Snell

For more photos:

Photo courtesy: Peter Snell and Andrew Kormanik Jr

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pascha in Windsor

St. Michael's parish in Windsor, ON, is always happy. to celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord. That happiness is also visible in the faces of people who come to church early in the morning to be present at the moment when the priest starts the small procession with the shroud, singing the troparion: "When you descended into hades, O Immortal One..." Then, after the transfer of the shroud they sing the troparion with lit candles in their hands: "Your Resurrection, O Christ..." People were eagerly awaiting the victorious Easter troparion: "Christos voskrese iz mertvych...Christ is risen from the dead..." It happened also on April 4th of this year, when we victoriously entered the church' doors, singing joyously. The doors were symbolically opened by knocking on them with the cross, and then we sung the Easter troparion and started Resurrection Matins. Matins were followed by the Divine liturgy and concluded with the blessing of the paschal food. After the annointment with the oil of gladness and greeting each other with the greeting "Christos Voskrese", everyone used the opportunity to wish each other a joyous feast and enjoy the fellowship. They were looking forward to the upcoming Sunday, when the Artos – a large round bread with a cross on the top – is cut and distributed during the mirovanije. We were especially happy to see many people in our church who come rarely or almost never come during the year and we expressed our desire to see them more often among us.

Fr. Martin Vavrak

Photo credits: Vavrak family
More photos available at:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Invitation to Oshawa

Protection of the Mother of God

Catholic Church

cordially invites you to our

Parish Fundraising Dinner

Saturday May 1, 2010 5PM

In the Parish Hall 464 Ritson Rd. S., Oshawa

(905) 245-0629(RSVP by April 28)

Homemade Spaghetti Dinner,Dessert by Mitchel’s Cake and Dessert Company

Entertainment by Luba Goy, Melanie E., Vychodna Dancers

Raffle Prizes donated by Valentino’s Salon, Magic Portraits, and more…

Silpada Jewelry Sale (30% of proceeds to the Church),Bake Sale, Auction, Children’s Activities

Individual $20 Couple $30 Family $40

Everyone Welcome!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Visit of bishop John to the Ascension Church in Montreal

On a bright and sunny Sunday February 21st, the first Sunday of the Great Fast (Lent), Bishop John visited the Slovak Byzantine Catholic Parish of the Ascension in Montreal, QC. He celebrated the Divine Liturgy with Fr. Roman Lahola who has faithfully served the parish for the past few years.

After the Divine Liturgy everyone gathered downstairs for a lunch served by the ladies of the parish and then a short meeting concerning the sale of the church to the Bethel Pentecostal Congregation was held. After the lunch and prior to the meeting Bishop John reminded the parishoners of their heritage and the work of their families in forming their community despite recent hard times. Fr. Lahola expressed his desire to continue to serve the parish in the future. The meeting and day concluded by singing "Dostojno jest".

Text: Bishop John
Photo credits: Joe Corej

More photos available at:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cheesfare (Forgiveness) Sunday at Cathedral of the Mother of God.

This year, Forgiveness Sunday happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day. Forgiveness Sunday is a very special day and the fact that it fell on Valentine’s Day was indeed appropriate: what is Valentine’s Day about? Love! That is also what Forgiveness Sunday is about: forgiveness, respect, love!

It was on this Sunday that Bishop John Pazak, C.Ss.R. celebrated Pontifical Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Toronto. The Pastor, Fr. Andrew Kormanik, concelebrated and Sub-Deacon Daniel Cerny assisted. The Liturgy was celebrated in English and Slovak and parishioners and guests were reminded of the significance of this Sunday during Bishop John’s homily.

Following the Liturgy, Bishop John introduced Sub-Deacon Daniel Cerny. It was Daniel’s turn do his presentation. Everyone was asked to move to the front pews to create more of a community. Sub-Deacon Daniel thanked everyone for coming and began his presentation by showing us a beautiful icon by Andrei Rublev commonly referred to as “Hospitality of Abraham”. He then proceeded to explain the significance of the icon depicting three figures around an altar with a chalice on it, signifying the fellowship of love that exists in the Holy Trinity. He continued to speak about the three angels, the tree, the house and the rock in the background. He finished his presentation with: “Let us love one another, so that with one mind we may profess Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Trinity, one in substance and undivided.”

Everyone was then invited downstairs to the hall for a delicious meal prepared by the Women’s Auxiliary members. Approximately 50 parishioners and guests enjoyed lunch and fellowship. They wished Bishop John Happy Anniversary as he cut his cake. The day continued with a special service: Forgiveness Vespers. Many people went back upstairs to the church and participated in this beautiful service. At the conclusion of the Vespers, Bishop John asked all those present for forgiveness and the service ended with everyone present coming to Bishop, venerating the cross and asking for forgiveness.

Thank you, Bishop John and Fr. Andrew for a beautiful Liturgy and Vespers service. Thank you, Sub-Deacon Daniel, for your presentation which enlightened and inspired us and showed us that Lent should not be something to dread; it should be a time for us to prepare ourselves for the Resurrection. Thank you to everyone who attended. May you have a beautiful Lent and be fully prepared for Eastertime.

Text and photo: Mary Siroky - Snell

More photos available at:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Seminarian Daniel’s presentation in Oshawa

Tuesday morning began with a beautiful sunshine and it was a wonderful day for parishioners and guests to gather at an afternoon liturgy in Oshawa. Bishop John celebrated the liturgy and Fr. Williams concelebrated. Anointing by Bishop John followed.

hop John then introduced Seminarian Daniel Cerny who had a short presentation on the upcoming season of Lent. He reminded all of us that the time of Lent is not only a time when we give up certain foods; it is also a time when we try to be more like Jesus: kind and forgiving. He also reminded us that in order to do that we need to show kindness to others. This should not be very difficult – sometimes all it takes is a smile to show that we care.

Immediately after the liturgy everyone gathered in the hall downstairs. The parish ladies brought wonderful homebaked goods, coffee and tea was available and Fr. Williams provided vegetables and dip. While we enjoyed the prepared “feast”, Daniel was able to chat with most of the people present and find out if and how each family prepares the typical basket with Easter foods for blessing. The gathering ended with all of us joining Daniel in singing a few Slovak folk songs.

Mary Siroky - Snell

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ecumenical prayer service for victims of the earthquake on Haiti

Bishop John S. Pazak, CSsR, Eparchial Bishop of the Eparchy of SS. Cyril and Methodius for Slovaks of the Byzantine Rite in Canada represented his flock at this ecumenical prayer service held for those affected by recent earthquake in Haiti. The prayer service was organized by Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith affairs of the Archdiocese of Toronto, and took place at St. Paul's Basilica, the oldest Catholic Church in Toronto. Presiding at the ceremony was H. E. Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, who also delivered the homily. Memebers of various churches were present as well as civil authorities, including Mr. David Miller, mayor of the town of Toronto. To prove serious commitment and to also show the practical aspect of our faith, everyone present had an opportunity to contribute to a collection for victims, thus participate in the rebuilding of Haiti.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Seminarian Daniel's presentation at The Cathedral of Transfiguration Mission Church in Thornhill

Finally, Saturday, January 30th arrived and so did the much awaited visit of Sub-Deacon Daniel Cerny! Bishop John picked him up at the airport and brought him home; that will be Daniel’s base for the duration of his visit. Many of you may remember Daniel from his last visit: summer of 2007. He spent time with us in the Toronto area, attended odpust in Hamilton and the funeral of Msgr Sinal in Montreal.

Sunday morning, Daniel assisted at the liturgy celebrated by Bishop John and concelebrated by Fr. Comeau. Daniel read the Epistle. Following the liturgy, Bishop John re-introduced Daniel to the parishioners. Daniel is here in Canada to do some research for his licentiate, to interview parishioners in our Eparchy and he is here for another important reason - a mission: to run a series of presentations at churches in our Eparchy to prepare us for the upcoming Lenten season. His very first talk was at the Mission church and the topic was: “Our Father”. Daniel asked all those in attendance to come closer to the front so he didn’t have to strain his voice and he also wanted us to feel like a community we are. He asked the children to recite the first line of “Our Father”. He spoke of God as “our” not “mine or yours”. He also asked about the food being spoken of in the prayer: the bread. The bread represents not only food that satisfies our stomachs, but food that also satisfies our spiritual hunger. Daniel concluded with the line that comes right after the daily bread: forgive us our trespasses. We are heading for the time before Resurrection: the time of Great Fast – Lent. This is the time when we need to prepare ourselves for Pascha. One of the ways to do that is to go to confession and to examine our conscience. It’s time to forgive and prepare our hearts for the Resurrected Christ.

All parishioners were invited to Bishop John’s house for coffee, bagels and cake.

Text and photo: Mary Siroky - Snell.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany in Windsor

When celebrating the feast of the Theophany, i.e. the baptism of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, some of the villages in Slovakia still preserve the custom of blessing rivers or streams,. Most of the parishes however bless the water only in the churches. This same custom of blessing the water in the churches is still kept among our faithful in Canada. Fr. Martin Vavrak was blessing the water in the parish church of St. Michael the Archangel in Windsor, and afterwards the parishioners took the water with them to their homes to use it throughout the year.

Readings for the blessing of the water include also a lecture from the First letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, where we read: "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."

So, we are all invited to drink from that very same Rock - Christ, who is the only One, who could satisfy our thirst, a thirst for a life eternal.

Photo credits: Fr. Vavrak's family