The Catholic Foundation of Manitoba honours Blessed Nykyta and Ukrainian Church

April 25, 2013

On Tuesday evening, April 23, 2013, hundreds of donors and guests joined ecclesial and civil dignitaries at the Winnipeg Convention Centre for the Catholic Foundation of Manitoba’s 35th Annual Caritas Award Dinner.

This year, the CFM Board of Directors chose to honour the memory of the first Ukrainian Catholic Bishop of Canada – the Blessed Hieromartyr Nykyta Budka as well as the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada that he served from 1912 to 1927. After serving all of Canada for some 15 years from Winnipeg, Blessed Nykyta went to Rome and Ukraine to report on the life of the Church in Canada, but then was prevented from returning to Canada for various reasons - including health problems. He eventually was arrested in Ukraine by the Communist authorities and died a martyr’s death for his faith in a Soviet prison camp.

The evening lacked no pomp and ceremony. A large honour guard of the Knights of Columbus escorted the head-table guests into the vast banquet hall, led by pipers. Special honour was given to:

 - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth,

 - His Holiness Pope Francis,

 - The Honourable Philip Lee, the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba.

 Other dignitaries that expressed greetings during the evening were:

 - Three of Manitoba’s Roman Catholic Archbishops, M.R. Albert LeGatt (St. Boniface), M.R. Murray Chatlain (Keewatin-Le Pas), M.R. James Weisgerber (Winnipeg).

 - The Worthy State Deputy of the Knights of Columbus, Merlyn Onyschuk

 - The Honourable Ron Kostyshyn, Minister of Agriculture – Manitoba

 - Councillor Mike Pagtakhan, City of Winnipeg.

Two speeches stood out during the evening as truly extraordinary. One was given by the curator of Winnipeg’s St. Volodymyr Museum – Mrs. Natalia Radawetz and the other was given by Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, the Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop of Winnipeg. Both were truly inspirational presentations about the spiritual legacy of Blessed Nykyta Budka. It seemed that at the close of both talks, it took the crowd a moment to want to end the uplifting meditation with thunderous applause. Among other comments, Metropolitan Lawrence made a comparison between the life journey of Blessed Nykyta and the life of Christ - even noting that the death and burial of Blessed Nykyta at the hands of those that hated him and his Lord and his hurried burial in rags in a grave not his own, was similar to the passion and death and burial of Jesus Christ.

Archbishop LeGatt concluded the evening with a heartfelt prayer taken from the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski

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