Церква Успіння Матері Божої (м. Рассел, Канада)

The Parish is more commonly known as St. Mary’s Parish of Russell and this name was fondly coined by one of it’s then young priest, Father Michael Bzdel who went on to become the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan of Canada and Archbishop of the Winnipeg Archeparchy. The Russell parish has enjoyed an interesting history. Although there was not a large Ukrainian population in the area in the early 1940’s, the community grew and more families found the community to be a welcoming place to call home. Prior to 1942 worship services were held in private homes of local Ukrainian Catholic families. In 1941 there were only five family memberships, namely the families of Bereza, Lapka, Fadyshen, and Chuckree. Some of these family names are familiar and are a part of our community today. When the decision was taken to build the first church in the community, little was known at the time about how difficult it would be to complete the structure as a result of shortages of materials due caused by the effects of the war. The first service in the church was held in August of 1942 with Father Stephan J. Shawel officiating. Although there were no windows or doors in the church, it was a joyous celebration. The parish continued to grow with a youth group being formed and committees organized to keep the congregation alive and healthy. Throughout the ensuing years new families continued to move into the community and join the parish. In 1957 the Russell parish was placed in the care of the Redemptorist Fathers from Roblin and the Parish Priest assigned to be the Pastor was Father Michael Bzdel. In the late 1950's it became apparent that the existing church was too small for the growing membership and in 1960 plans were set in place to replace the tiny church with a new modern church facility. The Church was officially opened in June of 1967 by His Grace, Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk. The principal general contractor for the church was parishioner Nicholas Magnowski and the superintendent of construction and primary building supervisor was parishioner Michael Sidoryk. The result was a beautiful church, which is modern in design, its paintings and decor. The aesthetics of the church have been complemented with beautiful stain glass windows behind the main altar designed to depict various religious symbols, and stain glass windows depicting various martyrs and saints throughout history located along the upper sanctuary windows of the church. The first priests came from Yorkton Saskatchewan. Later the parish came under the religious guidance of priests from Roblin as well as Rossburn. What is most interesting is the fact that of the Pastors who served at St. Mary’s at least five have been elevated to the status of Bishop serving in various jurisdictions in Canada, the United States as well as Australia. Fr. Michael Bzdel not only earned the distinguished title of Bishop but was consecrated as Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Canada. Fr. Stefan Soroka is the present Metropolitan and Archbishop for the Ukrainians in the United States of America. Fr. John Pazak is the bishop for the Slovak Byzantine Church in Canada. Fr. Peter Stasiuk from Roblin has been the Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Australia. Fr. Michael Wiwchar became Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Saskatchewan and is now retired and living in Saskatoon. Fr. Bryan Bayda who is well known by the entire community of Russell has been elevated to the status of Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy in the province of Saskatchewan. Fr, Peter Pidskalny is Pastor of the Yorkton parish. Other priests who have served St. Mary's include Fr. Nestor Hodowany. Fr. Maurice Dzurman, Fr. Yaroslaw Dybka, Fr. George Perejda, Fr. Vince Fedorowich, Fr. Bohdan Lukie, Fr. Boris Kyba, Fr. Methodius Kushko, Fr. Raymond Lukie, Fr. ]ohn Sianchuk, Fr.Volodymyr Korba, Fr. Frank Szadiak, Fr. Edward Kwiatkowski, Fr. Edward Evanko, Fr. Tarus Kraychuk, Fr. Volodymyr Bashutskyy, and our current Pastor, Fr. Mykhaylo Khomitskyy.

Ukrainian culture has become a part of the broader Russell community and Ukrainian families have become assimilated into the community. However the strong Ukrainian culture and the strong faith of families continue to be at the center of family life at St. Mary's. The once tiny presence of Ukrainian Catholic families has blossomed into an important, vibrant and beautiful element in the fabric of Russell and area community. St. Mary's continues to provide weekly liturgical services and is the community’s center for Pastoral needs of its Ukrainian Catholic congregation.

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