St. Elias the Prophet Ukrainian Catholic Church before (left) and after it was destroyed by fire. The church will still host Easter services under a tent on parish grounds.

Easter services are a go for St. Elias

By 
  • April 20, 2014

BRAMPTON, ONT. - Despite their church being in ruins following a devastating fire, the parish community at St. Elias the Prophet Ukrainian Catholic Church still plan to gather and celebrate Easter together.

“We’ll have a large tent set up — I believe it’s 40 feet by 100 feet — and given that we don’t usually have chairs, it will be easier,” as Ukrainian Catholics worship standing, explains Fr. Archpriest Roman Galadza.

The tent will be erected in the courtyard on the parish grounds and will allow for about 400 people, said Galadza. It will be used for various services Holy Thursday through Easter Monday.

This all comes about because of the April 5 fire that destroyed the Brampton-area wooden church.

“It’s very, very important for our people at this time to move forward and to continue to see ourselves as a people that meet in a specific place,” he said. “And this place is still here.”

The community will get through this, he affirms.

“Worse things have happened in the lives of our families and the lives of the Church. What happens after Good Friday? The Resurrection.”

Since the fire, the acts of kindness have been amazing, he said.

“I have received enough liturgical hardware to start a church goods store. I’m running out of room. From icons to vestments, we have everything we need to replicate the services as they should be taken.”

Protodeacon David Kennedy attributes some of the donated vestments to the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, a Ukrainian Catholic order.

“One of the sisters made four vestments in three days,” said Kennedy. “And they just gave them to us.”

Local churches have also played an important role.

“Fr. Jan (Kolodynski) at St. Jerome’s (Roman Catholic Church) has allowed us to make use of the weekday chapel there which we’ve been using for all the services except the Sunday service,” said Kennedy.

“We’ve got offers for the use of every Protestant church within driving distance of our place here,” said Galadza. “The Orthodox churches have expressed offers of hospitality, too.”

But it’s not just Christians that have reached out. It’s also members of the local Sikh, Muslim and Hindu communities.

“They have been very, very supportive coming out and getting to know us and also making donations.

“I think there’s a sensitivity today to all sorts of religious conflict, especially in their homelands, be it Ukraine or the countries of the Near East that are having these difficulties,” said Galadza.

“And so we understand each other and it kind of brings us together.”

(Santilli is a freelance writer in Toronto.)

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