A GOOD MAN PASSES FROM THIS LIFE: A LOSS TO CHURCH, FAMILY & COMMUNITY
July 23, 2016
On July 15th, after having received the Holy Sacraments from a priest from his home parish, and surrounded by his family at his home in St. Andrews, the servant of God, Merlyn Onyschuk completed his earthly journey. A memorial Divine Liturgy is planned for August 19th at St. Nicholas Church (737 Bannerman Ave.) at 10:30 AM. Vichna yomu pamyat’!
Besides being a loving husband and father, dedicating himself to providing the best he could for his family, Merlyn also managed to find a great deal of time for other loves in his life – among them: his Church and the Knights of Columbus.
He loved the Catholic Faith, especially his Ukrainian Catholic Church. At his home parish of St. Nicholas he was always a friend and supporter of the priests and a very active member. Being a leader by nature, he, of course served on the Parish Pastoral Council, but also found time to serve as Sacristan and even spent hours helping at Holy Family Cemetery which is maintained by the parish. He supported various social and cultural community clubs and served in the executive of numerous organizations – including the Rossdale School of Ukrainian Dance. He was a board member for Holy Family Home that is now undergoing a massive expansion project.
Among his many achievements for which Merlyn will probably be best remembered for are his amazing accomplishments as a longtime member of the Knights of Columbus. For over thirty years, Merlyn was an active member of the largest Catholic men’s charitable organization in the world. He held various offices in his original local Fr. Filipow Council based at St. Nicholas Parish including, of course, Grand Knight. As he achieved the 4th Degree he also joined the Canon Luhovy Assembly where he inevitably served as Faithful Navigator. As he rose through the ranks of the Order, he also served as District Deputy – overseeing a number of local councils. He was selected to serve on the province-wide ‘State Board’, soon attaining to the top position of ‘State Deputy’. Merlyn served as State Deputy of the Manitoba State Council of the Knights of Columbus 2011-2013. In this capacity, he joined a select group of less than 80 such leaders worldwide in managing the global goals and activity of the Knights.
Three achievements and activities in particular stand out among Merlyn’s list of accomplishments while involved with the Knights. One is his involvement with the wheelchair fundraising and distribution effort to countries where people are most in need of such mobility equipment. He was able to participate in trips to Cuba and Ukraine and see the wheelchairs distributed to people in need. He was especially moved to see the joy of the children when they receive a wheelchair in their own size. He wanted to continue this work and now his family is encouraging those who would like to donate to this cause to contact the Manitoba Provincial Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
There was talk for a number of years with regard to establishing the Knights of Columbus in Ukraine and other countries of Easter Europe. For various reasons this was unable to move forward. When Merlyn became State Deputy for Manitoba, he took the project in hand and decided to make it happen. He contacted a number of individuals with whom he discussed the idea … not as a dream, but as a marvelous project that was going to move ahead. Among those initially involved with the project were the late Deacon Nicholas Kohuch, Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski, SK Vlad Solman, Fr. Volodymyr Bashutskyy, Msgr. Michael Buyachok, SK Larry Kustra, SK Myron Pawlowsky, all Winnipeg Knights, and SK Lawrence Sosnowich from the U.S. Hours of work went into the translations, rehearsals, planning, etc. and Merlyn was involved and encouraging every step of the way. He really made it happen. Merlyn Onyschuk and SK Lawrence Sosnowich from Washington lead the “degree team” to Ukraine on a few occasions. Merlyn was able to come out personally on two of the challenging, but very rewarding trips. Thanks in great part to Merlyn’s tireless efforts and determination, today the Knights of Columbus are not only established in Ukraine (and Lithuania), but the Knights in Ukraine have developed their structure to the establishment of a state council.
Another extraordinary energy that Merlyn exhibited was in doing everything that he could to promote a true culture of life in Manitoba. His skills as an organizer and promoter came out at the annual Gospel of Life event and at the annual March for Life. Merlyn also served as the Knights of Columbus representative on Winnipeg’s tri-diocesan committee for the National Week for Life and Family.
He strove to keep active in all these areas, even when his health started to fail him. His positive spirit and his knack of encouraging with consideration and charity, however, never did fail him. He was always a kind yet capable man that got the task done. The knights even recognized his achievements with various awards over the years. He was rightly proud in particular with receiving the KofC “Circle of Honour” award for two consecutive years.
Much more can and will be said at his memorial service on August 19th and shared among those that knew him. Suffice it to say at this point that Merlyn will be missed by his family, but also by the Church and the Knights and all people of good will who understand what he did with his life. May God bless him and mercifully welcome him into His Heavenly Kingdom.