On Friday, September 7th, Immaculate Heart of Mary School had the honour of hosting a visit from the worldwide Patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk. His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who is based in Kyiv, Ukraine, is the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. He was elected last year in a special Synod of bishops to replace Major Archbishop Lubomyr Husar (Major Archbishop Lubomyr Husar, who is also a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, visited IHMS in 2005). His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk is currently in Winnipeg to host the annual Synod of Ukrainian Catholic Bishops from September 9-16. He graciously took time out of his very demanding schedule to visit our school.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk arrived at IHMS at 11:30 a.m., and was warmly received by students, staff, and other members of the school community as he entered the school gym. A brief program followed, with IHMS principal Mr. Picklyk as MC.
After initial greetings from Mr. Picklyk, IHMS students Veeta Z. and Connor R. presented His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk with a kolach. This was followed by the song ???O Maria Mate Bozha??? sung by the entire student body under the direction of the school???s music teacher, Mrs. Stanowych.
School Director Sr. Anne Pidskalny SSMI then conveyed her own greetings (which included her hope that His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk will return someday to bless the opening of our new school), followed by a flower and gift presentation by Gabriele P. and Chantel M. This was followed by another Ukrainian folk song.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk (who???s fluent in 9 different languages, including English) then briefly spoke, thanking everyone for the beautiful reception. He also noted that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Blessed Nyktyta Budka, the first Ukrainian Catholic bishop in Canada.
After another student song – ???Bless Us Your Father??? – everyone gathered for a group photo.
The students were then briefly dismissed back to their classrooms while tables were set up in the gym for lunch. Everyone returned about 15 minutes later to be served a meal of Santa Lucia pizza and Sorrento???s salad. His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk concluded his visit to IHMS with a tour of the school.
Hosting the leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church was a rare and exciting opportunity for our school. His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk seemed to enjoy the visit, and it was a wonderful way for students and staff of IHMS to begin a new school year.