During the third week of June our parish again participated in the "Fiesta" folk-festival in Oshawa. This year twenty pavilions participated, sponsored by Churches and cultural organizations. Our Odessa Pavilion showcased the music, dance, food and culture of Ukraine. As usual, our Odessa Dancers performed dynamically, and all the dancers enjoyed the opportunity to show their prowess to our Oshawa community. It was a joy to see the children, youth, parents and grandparents all working together in a joyous atmosphere. Fiesta is an event that the entire parish looks forward to, as it gives us an opportunity to showcase the beauty of our culture and our community.
Following Pascha it is customary to hold a parish Paschal Meal, called in Ukrainian Sviachene, where parishioners have the opportunity to share their paschal joy and enjoy a lunch of the blessed paschal foods. This year's Sviachene on April 22nd was marked by a special presentation. Our parishioners have the custom of making dontations towards a charitable goal during the Great Fast, and this year the parish decided to donate this money towards the needs of Gate 3:16, a Christian ministry located just up the street from us which ministers to the homeless, poverty stricken, etc. Gate 3:16 is in the process of purchasing a new building to better serve the needs of the marginalized here in Oshawa, and so Natalie Prychitko, Vice-President of our Parish Council, along with Fr. Bohdan were honoured to present on behalf of our parishioners a cheque to Charlie Rolland, Chairman of the Board of Gate 3:16, in the amount of $500.
Following our meal we proceeded to the local cemeteries where memorial services were held at the graves of our dear relatives and reposed parishioners. It is always a great blessing to see how many of our parishioners, both young and old, attend and prayerfully remember their forebears. May their memory be eternal!
Our Paschal Celebrations were especially joyful this year. As usual, the church was packed, and our choir did their normal wonderful job singing the beautiful, joyful, paschal melodies. Following the Matins and Liturgy everyone proceeded outside for the traditional blessing of paschal foods. We had a special treat at Vespers, as our Bishop, Bishop Andriy, officiated at Paschal Vespers with us, which brought even greater joy to all. Christ is Risen! Христос Воскрес!
Our Holy Week Services began with the celebration of Our Lord's Entrance into Jerusalem. Many of the faithful approached for Holy Communion, and as is our custom willow branches were blessed before the end of Liturgy. The solemnity of the Holy Week services, especially on Holy Thursday, Holy Friday, and Great Saturday, was edifying to all. Besides our wonderful choir, we were blessed with many singers and readers who helped sing the responses and perform the readings, especially on Holy Saturday. Yuri Hladio offered a sermon on the Book of Jonah on Holy Saturday, and the pre-paschal joy by the end of Liturgy was palpable.