January 6, 2018


Father Ihor Shved, arrived in Winnipeg with his wife Lesia and four children only at the end of September to take up pastoral ministry at St Basil Parish in Winnipeg. One can imagine the challenges of moving to a new country, a new city, a new house, getting settled into new work and school and all the documentation and bureaucracy. But thanks to the overwhelming kindness of the parishioners at St. Basils and the helpful advice from other clergy that have lived the experience themselves and others from the Ukrainian Community ... things for the Shveds have actually fallen into place much easier than many thought they would.

Well, in spite of all that, Father Ihor and 'Yimost'* Lesia were in touch with other people who had recently come from Ukraine. They realized that most of them had no other family here and Christmas was coming. Among so many other things, Christmas is a time to get together with family. They decided to put out word on Facebook that anyone who wanted, could come to St. Basil's for supper on the Julian Calendar Christmas Eve (January 6). When the responses started to grow, it was decided that it would be most successful if it was a potluck supper. Everyone was asked to bring a one of their favourite Christmas dishes. People got excited about the idea. St. Basil parishioners also wanted in. They wanted to help make it a special evening for the many families and individuals from Ukraine who are now in Winnipeg. They are here as students, workers, immigrants or just passing through. Although some have been here for a number of years now.

Parish volunteers also collaborated with volunteers from among those invited. What eventuated was a wonderful evening of warmth, good will, carols, amazing food and a lot of sharing of anecdotes, greetings, thank-yous and great humour. Over 50 people gathered. Some were families with joyful children that added to the magic.

Before the night was over, everyone asked that it be organized again for next year. In fact, many agreed that they would come out if it happened even more often - like Easter and other major religious holidays and cultural celebrations.

The event showed the influence of social media (everyone was informed by Facebook and passed the word along!). It showed that with a little effort a humble good-willed initiative can go a long way. It also showed the obvious - that we all look for opportunities to come together and enjoy each other's company in a truly welcoming atmosphere. God bless Fr Ihor and his parishioners for offering an opportunity and space for this Christmas supper to be a success!


* "Yimost" (Їмость)- a title of respect used throughout western Ukraine for the wife of a priest. It means "your kindness", almost "reverend". Other titles like 'Dobrodiyka' (Добродійка) are also used, which literally means "one who does good".

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