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Ukrainian church celebrates 75 years in Glendon

For the past 75 years Glendon's Ukrainian community has gathered under one roof to celebrate their faith. With their numbers declining that group came together once again to celebrate the historic church, for what many believed to be the final time.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated its 75th anniversary on Saturday.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated its 75th anniversary on Saturday.

For the past 75 years Glendon's Ukrainian community has gathered under one roof to celebrate their faith.

With their numbers declining that group came together once again to celebrate the historic church, for what many believed to be the final time.

"It was a fairly strong parish, but like many other parishes our membership has dwindled," said Mike Hrab, emcee for the 75th anniversary celebration.

"Now it is becoming a challenge, but we are still trying to make a go of it."

The parish is a shadow of its former self as only a few families are still committed to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and regularly attend on Sunday mornings throughout the year.

The group has recently started to cut out their winter service as they have run into financial struggles and can no longer afford to heat the building during the cold winter months.

"There are only a handful of permanent members left," said John Pshyk, who has been an active member of the parish since 1950.

"Our membership is just declining, but by the looks of today hopefully some of our membership comes back again," added Pshyk.

Over 70 people attended the series of celebratory events on Saturday, Aug. 15 at the parish and Glendon Senior Citizens' Hall.

The morning started out with liturgy lead by Bishop David Motiuk and was followed by the blessing of the water and a catered lunch.

People from all over the province made their way to Glendon for the day's celebration, including the children and grandchildren of some of the founding families of the local parish.

Christina Gural, who's father Michael serviced the parish from 1950 to 1955, made the special trip to Glendon to participate in the event.

Gural, her parents and two siblings, made the trek from Ukraine to Glendon in 1950 to begin a new life.

"It was amazing how welcoming the community was," said Gural, addressing the crowd at the Senior Citizens' Hall. "These were the happiest times for (my family). We came from Europe with nothing. It was nice for us to come to an area with people from the same general area of Ukraine."

The majority of the parishioners who joined forces to build the church in 1940 all came over to Glendon from Zowtance, Ukraine. They named the church they built in Glendon after the church in their hometown called Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Gural remembered all of the family names that were involved in the parish when she was a little girl - the Pshky's, Haramatiuk's, Hupalo's and Skrypichayko's were just some of the many involved in the birth of the church.

"The parishioners helped us tremendously," said Gural. "They helped us get cows, pigs and chickens. We had everything we ever wanted. It got us off to a good start in Canada."

Gural was one of many people in attendance who took time to address the crowd, which had gathered for lunch.

At the end of the meal parishioners from the church were presented with plaques from the MD of Bonnyville and Province of Alberta recognizing the historic 75th anniversary of the parish.

"I am surprised that (the parish) has made it this far," said Pshyk. "If it makes it another 25 years I will be very surprised."

Many in the room had the feeling that this would be the last major celebration for the parish that has meant so much to the community of Glendon.

"I tried to laugh it off and say what are the chances of a 100th anniversary," said Hrab. "I guess stranger things have happened."




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