Brief History of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St Elia (Edmonton, Alberta)

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia in Edmonton came into existence in 1957. The first Divine Liturgy was held at Kendall Hall on October 27, 1957 with Rev. Father Fyk officiating. In the following months regular services were held in an old United Church and then in the homes of adherents. On December 22, 1957 after Divine Liturgy, a dinner and organizational meeting was held to officially launch a new parish. Sixteen families registered for membership at an annual fee of six dollars. A board of directors was elected for the ensuing year.

On April 22, 1958 a resolution approving the purchase of a parcel of land was passed and the future home of the Church was destined to be 11833 – 66 Street. On June 20, 1958, then Mayor, William Hawrelak, turned the first spade of soil and construction was begun. Parish members collectively provided promissory notes in sufficient quantity to obtain a bank loan. Construction proceeded rapidly and on November 18, 1958 the board held it’s first meeting in the Church auditorium. On November 30, 1958 Rev. Father Metiuk (later Bishop Andrew) blessed the new Church and officiated at the first Divine Liturgy.

In early 1959, a choir was organized and Professor Sergei Eremenko was invited to serve as director; a duty he performed for the next 38 years. Also in 1959 the women organized the Lesia Ukrainka Branch of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada, Club Trident was also founded and CYMK – Canadian Ukrainian Youth Association, was also first launched.

On March 17, 1959 the new parish was honoured by the attendance of His Beatitude Metropolitan Ilarion who consecrated the Church and blessed the cornerstone. A significant milestone at St. Elia’s included the burning of the mortgage in 1963, a mere six years after the members committed themselves to constructing a Church.

The interior of the Church was enhanced with pews installed in 1961, a neon cross was mounted to the exterior of the Church in 1965, an Ikonostas built by Mr. Wadim Dobrolige in 1967, chandeliers in 1968, a public address system in 1971, and electronic chimes in 1981.

In 1988, in commemoration of the Millennium of the Baptism of Ukraine into the Holy Orthodox Faith, new bronze doors were installed at the entrance of the Church.

Guest priests (Rev. Hrytsyna, Rev. Fyk and Rev. Krushtanowich) served the Church until The Rt. Rev. Father Ambrose Chrustawka was appointed effective August 1, 1959. Following his relocation three years later, The Rt. Rev. Father Ostap Flak was designated parish priest as of September 1, 1961, serving the parish faithfully and conscientiously for the next 28 years until his retirement on June 30, 1989. Subsequently, the tentative assignment of The Right Rev. Father George Turzansky occurred from October 1, 1989 until July 31, 1991. The appointment of Very Rev. Father Mikolaj Derewianka followed effective August 1, 1991.

In 1992 a new facelift to the exterior of the Church was undertaken, complete with domes, brick siding, new steps, an elevator permitting wheelchair accessibility to the Church and to the auditorium, and new windows were installed.

The newly renovated Church was re-dedicated by His Eminence Archbishop John on October 25, 1992.

The first stained glass piece was installed in the choir loft window on August 6, 1994.

On September 18, 1997 the parish celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a commemorative program following Divine Liturgy. In attendance to celebrate were His Beatitude Metropolitan Wasyly, His Eminence Archbishop John and The Rt. Rev. Father Dr. Oleg Krawchenko, Chair of the Presidium of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.

Two years later, on May 16, 1999 the Lesia Ukrainka Branch of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada celebrated its 40th Anniversary with blessing from His Eminence Archbishop John. A commemorative program followed Divine Liturgy, a specially designed pin was issued, a commemorative booklet was printed, pictures of members of the branch were unveiled, and special recognition was given to all long-term members with certificates from the national UWAC.

After eight years at St. Elia, Very Rev. Father Mikolaj Derewianka was relocated and Very Rev. Father George Podtepa was assigned on August 1, 1999. Generous and hardworking faithful continue to support the parish and renewed spirituality is evident with further projects undertaken.

As a millennium project in the year 2000 the parish erected an exterior sign next to the Church to announce services and special events. New Prayer Books were also donated in the millennium year.

Youth Sunday was established with an English language service on the first Sunday of each month, followed by the introduction of a second English language service on the third Sunday of each month in 2003.

The year 2003 has the parish exploring the feasibility of further renovations with a potential expansion to the Church auditorium.