August 30, 2018

Did you know that the Archeparchy of Winnipeg currently has three seminarians studying for the priesthood? What about the news that Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary is moving from Ottawa, the city it called home for nearly forty years, to Edmonton? If you didn't know one or both of these things, I'm happy that you're reading this (and if you knew both, I'm equally as happy that you're reading this). While our seminarians are away from the Archeparchy for two thirds of the year, we typically return to Winnipeg for some or all of the summer. You might wonder what exactly a seminarian does while they're away from the seminary. Normally, the summer provides each of us an opportunity to work, and time permitting, be present in the eparchy at various parishes and church functions. In an effort to illustrate this, I've composed this brief article to share with you what kept me busy this summer! As some of you might know, I spent the first portion of my summer in Ukraine to enhance my Ukrainian language skills at Ukrainian Catholic University. While most of my time was spent in Lviv, I also had an opportunity to travel to the Zakarpaty region (specifically Uzhorod and Mukachevo), as well as spend a few days in Kyiv. It was an outstanding experience to have a chance to visit Ukraine for the first time, and to study there as well. In doing so, I was able to encounter and appreciate more of the Ukrainian language and culture than ever. Further, it was of great benefit to participate in the rich and vibrant religious tradition of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine.
Upon returning to Winnipeg, I began my summer work at the Archeparchy of Winnipeg Chancery Office. To say that my work has been diverse is an understatement. Nevertheless, this has provided several instances where I have been able to work in various settings. Whether that be office work, field work, or somewhere in between, it has helped me to better understand the Archeparchy as a whole.

Having been formally hired through the Properties Office, I have worked closely with the Vicar Syncellus for Archeparchy Church Properties, Fr. Mark Gnutel. One of our greatest achievements this summer was formulating a way in which we could create a comprehensive database of all Archeparchial Properties. Today, we have an organized, digitized list of these properties, that includes details such as GPS location, contact information, and associated cemeteries to name a few. As you can imagine, this was a considerable undertaking, yet it offered me a unique opportunity to tour different pastoral districts within the Archeparchy to gather some of this unique information. In doing so, I met with each pastor of their district. In hearing of their experiences as priests, this served to be incredibly valuable as a learning tool for me, as it is challenging to replicate many of these 'real life scenarios' within the seminary.

Similarly, I experienced tremendous joy meeting the faithful in their respective districts, often listening to wonderful accounts of their involvement with their beloved parish.

Amid my district tour, I dedicated time to assist Fr. Mykhaylo Khomitskyy with the Rossburn District's Summer Children's Catechism Camp. This children's catechism camp is run entirely by volunteers and has been offered for several years. What I believe to be most incredible about this catechetical camp is the variety of activities offered to the kids who come. Each child is assigned to a class that is most suitable for their age and level of catechesis. Further, all the children in the camp come together for a wide array of games and fellowship. Whether I was aiding in a catechism class, or helping to set up for an outdoor activity, it gave me a glimpse of true vibrancy in a parish nearly four hours away from Winnipeg.
Similarly, I witnessed vibrancy in many parishes within Winnipeg and surrounding areas. I sought to attend Divine Liturgy at as many parishes as time and a busy schedule would permit. This summer I visited eleven parishes and spoke to countless people about my experiences as a seminarian, and what exciting things might await me in the Archeparchy. Further, as I made visits throughout the summer, I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps one day I would have the privilege of serving that parish in the future. In preparing for the gift of the priesthood, I want to take this opportunity to humbly request your prayers for each of our seminarians who will begin their studies this year. As we transition to our new home in Edmonton, your prayerful support is paramount in aiding us in our formation for a life of service within the Archeparchy. Further, I want to thank you for continuing to generously support each of us in our studies and accommodations. Without your prayerful and financial support, the possibility of pursuing vocations would arguably cease to exist. This summer has proven to me what great happiness comes from life in the Church, and the faithful of the Archeparchy have been significant contributors to that. As our summer comes to a close, be assured of the prayers of the seminarians of the Archeparchy for your intentions, and that the Archeparchy continue to be blessed with vocations for many years.

Alex Pankiw

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