Sunday, August 19, 2012

Odpust in Hamilton 2012

Celebrating the Dormition of the Mother of God in Hamilton Sunday, August 19th presented itself as a joyous day as parishioners, friends and visitors came to The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church in Hamilton.  They came to help celebrate the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God.  The church was filled with people young and old coming not only from the Hamilton area but from neighbouring cities and towns.  They were greeted by the smell of incense, breath-taking icons, burning candles and Byzantine Chant.  The prayerful and peaceful atmosphere was a welcome respite from the frantic pace of life outside the walls of this beautiful church.  The procession of the Bishop, priests, sub-deacon and altar servers slowly made its way from the back of the church to the front as cantors led the congregation in singing “AXIOS”.  The Divine Liturgy began shortly after, with powerful and thought provoking homilies by Bishop John Pazak, CSsR and visiting Fr. Jaroslav Lajciak from Rome, followed by the blessing of flowers and mirovanie.  In the church hall, everyone enjoyed the meal prepared by church volunteers and listened to the exquisite singing of baritone Jan Vaculik.  Was this a beautiful day?  Yes, because it reminded us that we are all part of the one family of God, and that He is the centre of our lives as Mary, the Mother of God has shown us.  We came together this day not merely to socialize, to reconnect with friends or acquaintances we don’t often see, but to very visibly share our rich Catholic faith with each other.  As proud Byzantine Catholics, representing the Catholic Church’s other lung, we came together with one another and shared something very precious with fellow Byzantine and Roman Catholics this day.  Our faith, nurtured over time, cultivated and matured is not something to be hidden, but joyously proclaimed.  It is a faith ground in God’s love, the teachings of Christ and greatest action of love by Father and Son, witnessed by Mary.  This faith is also ground in hope.  To be believers is to be hopeful, because that is what Christ’s death and resurrection offers us.   That is what that act of love offers us, hope in everlasting life with God.  And so this feast of the Dormition too reveals to us hope brought to fulfillment, the Mother of God finding everlasting joy and life with God.  

Thank you to everyone who truly made this day so beautiful and hopeful, to our Bishop, priest, visiting priests, parishioners, friends, visitors, volunteers.  May we come to know the meaning of what it is to be part of this precious family of God.  
And, thus, we invite all of you to come and visit us at The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church in Hamilton.  Join us for Slovak, English or Old-Slavonic Divine Liturgy.  Come and celebrate feast days with us.  Come and share in God’s love with us.  


More photos available at: Click here!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

74th Slovak Day in Milton

This year’s 74th Slovak Day in Milton threatened to be a wet one; all around us the clouds were darkening. On the way to the Croatian Park, a few raindrops hit the windshield and once we reached the park, we had to keep windows closed for a while because it did rain. However, the sky cleared up, the sun came out and all threat of rain disappeared.
Slovak Days start with a liturgy or a mass; this time it was a Byzantine Liturgy where the main celebrant was H.E. Bishop John S. Pazak, C.Ss.R., Eparch of Slovak Byzantine Eparchy of Sts. Cyril & Methodius in Canada. Concelebrating with him were: Fr. Jozef Mucha (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church in Hamilton), Fr. Miroslav Cajka, C.Ss.R., (Michalovce Vice Province in Slovakia), Fr. Jaroslav Lajciak (from Rome, currently serving St. Michael the Archangel Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church in Windsor) and Fr. Sub-Deacon Winsen Zouzal from Windsor. Liturgy was celebrated in Slovak with many parishioners from Oshawa, Hamilton, Welland, Toronto, Windsor and Thornhill singing the responses. More than a hundred parishioners and guests (including many from Slovakia) listened intently to  Fr. Jaroslav who delivered the homily. He very appropriately focused on the two men who were instrumental in bringing religion, faith  and culture to our forefathers: Sts. Cyril & Methodius. He reminded us a bit of the history associated with the two saints and recounted their trek to Rome to meet with Pope Hadrian.  Through it all he brought to our attention that just like Sts. Cyril & Methodius, we are also urged to spread the faith to all around us. We need to focus on delivering that same faith to our children, friends and neighbours.  The liturgy concluded with singing of “V sedmobreznom kruhu Rima” (Mnohaja lita) to our Holy Father, Benedict XVI,  “Mnohaja lit” to our Bishop John Pazak and to all clergy and guests present. Everyone then went to enjoy their lunch and spend time with friends and acquaintances one always meets at Slovak Day. The beautiful sunshine only made things that much nicer.

See you next year at the 75th Slovak Day.

Mary Siroky - Snell

Monday, April 16, 2012

Visitation of Metropolitan Jan Babjak SJ in Oshawa

On Monday April 16th, our parish, Protection the Mother of God, Oshawa, was honoured with a visit by the head of our sister church in Slovakia, Metropolitan Jan Babjak.  He concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at 6pm with our own bishop John Pazak, Fr. Stephen Williams and Deacon Peter Filipowich.  Also in attendance was the honour guard of the Knights of Columbus, Sheptytsky Assembly 1730.  Subdeacon Daniel Cerny, accompanying the Metropolitan, led the singing. Following the Divine Liturgy, all in attendance were treated to a beautiful reception organized by Lucia Williams.  Metropolitan Jan, aided by the translations of Daniel Cerny, gave a presentation of the life of his eparchy in Presov.  Especially impressive was his description of his 160 parishes, 300 priests, and a seminary bursting at the seams!  We also saw the array of ministries undertaken by his clergy and laity, ministries for youth, building projects, etc.  It was impressive and a great challenge to our eparchy here in Canada. 

Fr. Stephen and Lucia Williams
Photos by Mary Siroky - Snell

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Metropolitan Jan at the cathedral in Toronto

Sunday, April 15th 2012 was at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Toronto the Most Reverend Metropolitan Jan Babjak SJ. He was welcomed by parishioner, Mary Siroky-Snell, at the entrance to the church with traditional bread and salt. Concelebrating with Metropolitan Jan were  Bishop John Pazak, C.Ss.R, Fr. Andrew Kormanik and Fr. Jozef Mucha with sub - deacon Daniel Cerny and altar server John Telepcak. Once again, Metropolitan Jan’s homily urged us to prayer and cooperation. He offered to help in any way possible to put us back on track and make our church grow.

There was a luncheon in honour of our guest in the hall following the liturgy. Everyone was in great spirits and once Madeleine & William welcomed Metropolitan Jan and our Bishop John with bouquets of flowers, everyone was seated. Master of ceremonies, Mary Siroky –Snell introduced the head table, asked that Metropolitan bless the feast prepared for us and as the meal was being served, she gave a short biography of our guest in Slovak and English. Metropolitan Jan’s translator was kept on his toes when Metropolitan Jan began to visit guests at their tables. He had a smile and a hug for everyone there and never complained about hundreds of pictures he had to pose for! Once again, all guests received a holy card from him and a word of encouragement. Even after all that mingling with the guests, Metropolitan Jan had enough energy to entertain us with his beautiful singing voice. He started with his “signature” song: “Ej stretla, ze me stretla…” Added to the verses he normally sings, were five more that were written by a parishioner of this Cathedral, Mary Hosak. He sang several other songs and asked for favourites from the audience. Slowly, the celebration came to an end and everyone went his/her own way.

Mary Siroky - Snell
More photos available at:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Metropolitan Jan Babjak SJ in Hamilton

On Saturday, April 14, 2012, the Most Reverend Archbishop and Metropolitan of all Byzantine Catholic Slovaks in Slovakia, Jan Babjak, S.J. visited The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Slovak Byzantine Catholic parish in Hamilton, Ontario.  This was his first ever visit to the parish.  For Slovak Byzantine Catholics, his visit to Canada, to the parish in Hamilton, and two of the other parishes in the Slovak Byzantine Catholic Eparchy represented a continuity of the work of our first archbishop and saint, St. Methodius, who over 1100 years ago visited parishes across the region of what is now Slovakia.  Like St. Methodius, who with his brother St. Cyril evangelized the Slavs in Europe, including our Slovak forefathers, the Most Reverend Archbishop and Metropolitan Jan Babjak, S.J. came to wake us from our slumber and to strengthen our Catholic faith here in our Slovak Byzantine Catholic community in Canada.  Following in the footsteps of St. Methodius, he came to remind us of God’s love for us and invite us to come forward and to live lives of active faith in our parishes, our communities, our workplaces and in our homes.  And we responded.  We warmly welcomed him with “Vosel Jesi Archijereju!” and participated in a beautiful Divine Liturgy sung in Slovak, led by him and our Slovak Byzantine Catholic Bishop for all of Canada, the Most Reverend Bishop John Pazak, C.Ss.R.  Concelebrating with them was our parish priest, Fr. Jozef Mucha and several visiting priests.  They were assisted by sub-deacon Daniel Cerny currently working on his doctorate in Rome, and several altar boys.
     In the church hall, following the Divine Liturgy, parishioners and visitors welcomed the Archbishop and Metropolitan and joined him in a lovely meal prepared by a few of our church volunteers.  In the hall, he spoke to us of the growth of the Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church in Slovakia, the new basilica minors, the many pilgrim sites, the work being done with families and young people across the Eparchies in Bratislava, Kosice and the Archeparchy in Presov.  He spoke to us of the growth of vocations to the priesthood, the many seminarians and priests that the Archeparchy now has, and of some of the work of these priests in the US as well.  He sang to us with a number of parishioners joining in.  And he made sure that he met with each and everyone, taking time to know us and for us to get to know him.  He left our church, our parish, with renewed hope, hope in God who loves us, who gave his Son for us, a hope that is ours as active Catholics, a hope that calls us to reveal God’s presence in all aspects of our lives and to share His presence with others as we journey to our ultimate home with Him at the end of our lives.
     To the Most Reverend Archbishop and Metropolitan Jan Babjak, S.J. we can only say a simple thank you.  Thank you for awakening in our hearts our need for God.  Thank you!  And to each other we can turn and unite, lifting our gaze to God as we move forward in prayer and in faith, to build and to grow.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blessing of the Msgr. Sinal Memorial Hall

On the Eve of the Annunciation, we were very happy to celebrate the blessing of our freshly renovated Msgr. Sinal Memorial Hall. It has been a long journey, but thanks to the generosity of Bishop John Pazak, we were not only able to keep the church open and the parishoperational, but we have a beautiful new hall as well.

The afternoon began with Bishop John Pazak serving the Divine Liturgy along with Deacon Peter Filipowich, Fr. Andrew Kormanik, Fr. Ron Comeau, and Fr. Stephen Williams. We were also privileged to have the assistance of the Knights of Columbus Sheptytsky Assembly 1730: Faithful Navigator Sir Knight Walter Martyniw and Sir Knight David Boyko.

The liturgy was followed by the blessing of the hall and a fantastic reception organized by Lucia Williams. The meats, cheeses, crackers, breads, watermelon fruit-baskets filled with fruit salad,
and scrumptious baking provided by Lucia was a true feast fitting for the occasion. We are also grateful to Mary Kampu, Gertrude Dano, Margaret Dvorsky, and Angela Pavlisko who also generously contributed their baking talents and Keith and Melanie Harshorn-Walton who brought the veggie platter.

Finally, we are grateful to all our friends from the Slovak eparchy and all our visitors who sang heartily, ate healthily and contributed generously. We are blessed to have such a church family.

Fr. Stephen Williams

Photos by Stephen and Lucia Williams

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Invitation to Oshawa

At long last, it gives us great joy to announce that the renovation of our parish hall is now complete. This moment would not have arrived without the generosity of our bishop, Most Reverend John Pazak, CSsR, and the skill of our Contractor, Mr. Jonathan Slavin of Extreme Contracting.

To mark this moment in the life of our parish, Bishop John will be blessing the Msgr. Sinal Memorial Hall on the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation, Saturday March 24th. The Divine Liturgy will be served at 4pm at our parish (464 Ritson Rd. S., Oshawa), followed by the blessing of the hall, and a reception.

We would be greatly honoured, and most heartily invite, as many of you as are able to attend this event. Please come and share our hospitality, and pray with us that this moment would mark the beginning of new life for our parish, and that our Lord would bless our prayers, our hopes and our efforts on His behalf.

We are looking forward to seeing your there.

In Jesus Christ the Lord

Fr. Stephen Williams

Photos: Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen and Lucia Williams.