From December 27th through January 4th Fr. Bohdan and Marta Strelchuk of St. John's Parish took part in a mission trip to visit and bring material aid to several orphanages and rehabilitation centres in Ukraine. While there they visited the "Dzherelo" rehabilitation centre in L'viv; the Internat in Bukovo (Staryj Sambir Region) which houses almost a hundred girls and young women with various levels of physical and mental disabilities; the "Maple Leaf House" in Stoyaniv which is sponsored and supported by the "Nashi" group from Saskatoon; and the children's orphanage "Sonechko" in Kivertsi (Lutsk Region). The visits to the orphanages and rehabilitation centre were very joyful for all concerned, and the manifestation of Christian love and care shown by our small group (which also included His Grace, Bishop Andriy, Fr. Lubomyr Hluchaniuk of Hamilton, Tanya Buciora of St. Demetrius Sobor in Toronto, and our driver, Mykola Derevynsky of London, England) on behalf of our Eastern Eparchy was greatly appreciated by all the children, young adults, and staff members of the various institutions.
A special note of appreciation was offered by all the institutions we visited to the faithful of St. Mary's Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Oshawa for their generous material support.
While in Ukraine the group had the opportunity to worship in historical churches such as the Dormition Cathedral in L'viv, where the priests were honoured to concelebrate the Liturgy with His Beatitude, Metropolitan Makarij, as well as at St. Michael's "Golden-Domed" Cathedral in Kyiv. In L'viv the group was received by Metropolitan Makarij, and while in Kyiv were accorded the great honour of an audience with the newly-chosen Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, Metropolitan Epiphanij. Both of these meetings were very pleasant and deeply meaningful to all the members of our group. We likewise were able to visit the site of the Maidan, as well as the memorial to those who perished there during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014.
We returned to Canada with a better understanding of the social and religious situation in Ukraine, and with gratitude that we were able, with the support of our own parishes and all the parishes of our Eastern Eparchy, to make the lives of all the youth and adults in the various institutions we visited a bit easier.