July 4, 2018


On Wednesday, July 4th, the Archbishop of Winnipeg, His Grace, Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, maintained the custom of making the trip out to Ukrainian Park past Gimli to visit the Catholic Children's Camps underway there. It was a beautiful drive as the fields are like oceans of green as the crops seem to be growing extremely well. Upon arriving at Ukrainian Park, the first stop was to the large wooden Carpathian-style chapel of St. Volodymyr to set up for the Divine Liturgy that would celebrated later in the morning. Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski, Subdeacon Antin Sloboda, two SSMI Sisters Sr. Georgia Shchavii and Sr. Emily Schietzsch, as well as few young camp counsellors helped with the set-up and later with the Liturgy.

Metropolitan then made his way to the PLAST camp on the west side of the Park, where he was met by the Camp leaders and a good group of "Novaky" and "Novachky". They sang an impressive repertoire of songs and answered all of Metropolitan's queries about the camp and what they have done so far. He said that he was very impressed with their unified singing considering it was only the morning of their 4th day at camp. It was a "nautical-kozak" camp, meaning that the overlapping themes dealt with sailing and the Ukrainian cossack culture. The Plast camp strives to maintain a Ukrainian-language immersion environment and a program that covers all their organization's traditional scout-like qualifications, patches, etc.

Usually a visit to the camp of the Ukrainian Youth Association CYM, which has a large almost lake-front dorm, also takes place at this time. However, unfortunately CYM (pronounced "soom") did not have a camp organized for this week.

Back at the heart of the Park, the Divine Liturgy began at 11:00 AM. The site is a large wooden Hutsul-style church. The interior is plain, but it does have a unique iconostas that was at one time at Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Winnipeg, until BVM had a new iconostas made. The majority of those attending the Liturgy are the 70+ children of the "3rd" Children's Camp taking place at Ukrainian Park, which is organized by the Archeparchy of Winnipeg, under the direction of Joanne Lewandosky-Kuzia. The children sang their utmost best in both English and Ukrainian. The Epistle was also bilingual (Acts 5:12-16). His Grace, Metropolitan preached a homily that engaged all ages of the children. The Eucharistic Liturgy is celebrated at least four times during the Children's camps - each Sunday and each Wednesday. Following the Liturgy, two children, representing all the campers present, formally greeted the Metropolitan and presented him with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. As is the custom, the whole camp with everyone dressed in their special camp T-shirt (that changes every year!) posed for a picture on the chapel steps. Then it was off to get ready for lunch.

Just before lunch, which was ready about 30 minutes after the Liturgy, each of the camp dorms lines up in front of the dining hall. When they've all arrived (which is NOT dragged out at all - as it is, after all, food in question) they sing a common prayer. Today Metropolitan also added a benediction of the meal. It was great camp food! All you can eat, chicken fingers, tater tots, fresh salad, water and juice. Then dessert was a special treat. Father Peter Chorney (Selkirk) and Fr. Isidore Dziadyk, OSBM (St. Nicholas) once again brought a "truck load" of ice cream treats so that there was enough for two or more each! These were gobbled down with great enjoyment. Then a hush came over the dining hall....

The counsellor MC introduced the moment that everyone had been anticipating. Metropolitan Lawrence's annual story of the mythical (?) creature of the Okanogan Lake - the dreaded and yet fascinating Ogopogo! Every year he gives the story a whole different twist. This year was no exception. The filled dining hall sat rapt, mouths agape until the shocking, climactic end. His Grace was presented with the coveted official camp T-shirt, as were the three other visiting members of the clergy.

Following the great meal, His Grace visited the kitchen staff to thank them for the meal, but also to express his gratitude for their dedication in feeding the children for three weeks in a row! After everyone had a chance to chat with him, Metropolitan bid farewell. The Children still had an afternoon and evening of non-stop activities and events. This week has reached the halfway point. Alas, the week will be over before anyone realizes that it has passed by so quickly. Good Lord, in your loving kindness, bless the camps, watch over the children and staff and bring everyone back home safely.

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