From Beginning

Parish of St. Basil the Great

Construction of the first church began in 1925.  On October 14, 1928 the General Vicar, Rev. Peter Oleksiw, blessed the church's cornerstone. A year later on April 28, 1929 Rev. Gregory Shyshkowych, CSSR, celebrated the first divine Liturgy in the church. The church was consecrated September 3, 1939, by Archbishop Basil Ladyka who was assisted by Rev. G. Shyshkowych, Rev. John Bala, CSSR, and Rev. John Olynyk. Also present at this ceremony were representatives from the Latin Rite Diocese, the Provincial Government and over 500 faithful from Regina and district.

The church was a wood constructed cruciform structure with a large central dome and two smaller domes above the front towers. Chief contractors of the construction were Michael Payowsky and Paul Bandaz. In 1938 during the pastorate of Rev. Anthony Fyk, the church was artistically decorated by Stephen Meush. The last Divine Liturgy in the church and the final parish banquet in its basement hall took place on the feastday of the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1960. Later the church was dismantled; in 1965 the site was turned into a parking lot.

Construction of the new church began in 1959 on a site adjacent to the first church. The first Divine Liturgy in the church was celebrated by the parish pastor, Rev. Myroslav Kolodey who was assisted by: Rev. Myron Staciw, DD, the assistant pastor; Rev. Myron Pylypchuk and Rev. John Worona, pastors of neighboring parishes; Rev. C. Gibney, pastor of the Canadian Martyrs Latin Rite parish. Bishop Andrew Roborecki blessed the church in 1961 on the Feast of the Pentecost.

The present church is a massive rectangular structure, 98 x 46 feet, with two frontal towers apexed by domes. The basement is constructed of steel and concrete, the upper structure is predominantly wood with brick facing. Rectangular windows with arched summits feature blue stained glass one-armed crosses- A large metal cross projects above the frontal summit of the roof. The main entrance, with a roof shelter, is reached by a high concrete stairway with wrought iron railings; a large circular window, rosette-like, decorates the wall area above the main entrance.


In the interior, the church contains a sanctuary with the main altar and two adjoining sacristies, the nave, the vestibule and a choir loft which is situated above the vestibule. In 1983, a major renovation and interior-decorating project began at St. Basil's church. It included an arch for the mosaic, major mosaic behind the altar, mosaics for the side altars, 10 stained glass windows, a stained glass rose window above the choir loft, a shrine to Our Lady of Victory and at the end an iconostas. The blessing of the iconostas took place in 1996.

The church contains wooden pews seating approx. 300 persons and has electrical lighting, central gas heating and plumbing. The finished basement contains hall and kitchen facilities.

Near the church stands the pastor's residence which was constructed in 1968, St. Basil Parish Centre in 1978 and across back alley St. Basil’s Senior Citizens’ Manor in 1987.

Ukrainian settlement in Regina and district began approx. 1890. The first settlers came from Bukovina and Halychyna (Galicia) and received their naturalization papers in Regina as early as 1894 (Jubilee Book: Early Ukrainian Settlement in Regina, Dr. Bohdan Z. Kazy-myra). October 13, 1909, the Provincial Government of Saskatchewan established in Regina a training school for teachers for the newly settled immigrants; the majority of the young students who attended this school were of Ukrainian origin. During this period the Ukrainians in Regina were, most likely, spiritually guided by the missionaries: Rev. Adoney Sabourin and Rev. Nawkraty Kryzanowsky, OSBM, (parish Jubilee Book, 1925-1975). The first efforts to organize a parish in Regina date to 1924; that year four members, Ivan (John) Kucilyma, Andriy (Andrew) Shushelnitsky, Yuriy (George) Huk and Yurko (George) Fugera, met at the home of Ivan Kucilyma and resolved to collect funds for the construction of a church. They were later joined by Illiya Sandulak, Ostap Pukish, Theodore Ciz, Mykhaylo Piwarchuk, Mykhaylo (Michael) Derey, Petro Jacula, Wasyi Ukrainetz and Wasyi (William Scherban (Prop. Knyha). At the initiative of George Huk a general meeting of Ukrainian Catholics was held at the Hungarian Hall October 25, 1925. Ostop Pukish chaired the meeting, Yuriy (George) Diduch acted as secretary while Ivan (John) Fedorowich was the main speaker. Resultant to this meeting, the first church executive was selected consisting of: A Shushelnitsky, W. Scherban, G. Huk, T. Ciz, 0. Pukish. G. Diduch, P. Jacula, W. Ukrainetz and Prokop Korol. On November 22 of the same year, a second general meeting was held at the Hungarian Hall and the newly organized congregation was placed under the patronage of St. Basil the Great. On February 4, 1926 the executive placed a down payment on a two lot site at 1733 Toronto Street; the purchase agreement was signed the following day. In 1928 the parishioners constructed the first parish church. All construction details were under the auspices of the church executive and a provisionary construction committee chosen March 27, 1927, consisting of I. (J.) Sandulak, W. Scherban, H. Chapelsky, M. Derey and A. Jacula. Rev. Philip Ruh, OMI, was invited to advise the parish as to the style and architectural detail of the church. Meanwhile additional members were called to serve on the construction committee and in 1928, during the church construction, a new executive was selected consisting of J. Sandulak, P. Jacula, A. Woronowsky, G. Huk and W. Ukrainetz.

The first Divine Liturgy for the newly organized parish was celebrated on December 25, 1925 by Rev. Wolodymyr Zurawecki of Saskatoon in the present Blessed sacrament Roman Catholic church on Scarth street. From this date up to the construction of the parish's own church, all holy services were held in this church. In January 1926, for the first time in Regina's history, Rev. Stephen Fedoronko blessed water on the feast of Jordan; thirty-eight families were then visited with holy water. The first permanent pastor of the parish from 1929 was Rev. Michael Ircha. During the financial crisis between 1932-1936, the parish did not have a permanent pastor but was spiritually served by visiting Redemptorist Fathers from Yorkton. From 1936, the parish was once again assigned a permanent resident pastor. An assistant pastor was assigned to the parish from 1944. Thus from this date Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the church every Sunday.

During the early settlement period and later as parishioners, the Ukrainian Catholics played an active role in the Ukrainian community of Regina. Initially, they were members of the Tovarystvo (Society) "Prosvita" which from 1921 began the weekly publication "Ukrainsky Smoloskyp" (Ukrainian Torch). Later, they were members of other nationally and educationally oriented organizations.

The growth of the parish, its religious and cultural-educational life during the first years, was directly influenced by such organizations as: The Society of Queen Olha, reorganized in 1952 into the Ukrainian Catholic Women's League of Canada; the Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood of Canada, organized in 1934; the Ukrainian Catholic Youth of Canada, organized in 1939.

Beginning in 1931, the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate contributed to the parish's growth by preparing children for their First Holy Communion and directing the Ukrainian school. Similarly, Anna Arabsky assisted by her lectures and published educational articles.

The cantors and choir directors also played an important role in this development. The Parish Jubilee Book, published 1975, expresses gratitude to George Huk for 43 years of dedicated service as the cantor and parish organizer; for this service he was awarded an honorary parish membership. Additionally, the Jubilee Book singles out those who assisted the parish as cantors; these were: Dmytro Holinka, Nicholas Suchenski, Stephen Karapita and George Washchyshyn. Special mention was given to Eva Halapatz for many years of cantorship and dedicated work with the choir in which she was the soprano soloist (Jubilee Book: Cantors and Church Choir, Wolodymyr Sagasz). The permanent parish cantor since 1967 has been John Gawdyda who also assumed the directorship of the choir. He wass succeded by Bill Solduk. Earlier choir directors who are mentioned in the Jubilee Book were: Walter Hnatiuk, Sister Boniface, SMI, Joseph Stadnyk, Nicholas Suchenski, 0. Tsukornyk, Wasyi Tokaryk and Eugene Zarycky. In addition to Eva Halapatz, the name of the late Harry Salamanchuk is also preserved for posterity as the choir's leading tenor soloist.

Since Regina is the Capital of Saskatchewan and the seat of the Provincial Government, St. Basil's parish assumes a significant role among the parishes of the Eparchy. In 1910, Regina was visited by the Servant of God, Metropolitan of Halychyna and Archbishop of Lviv, Andrey Sheptytsky. He met with The Honourable Walter Scott, the Premier and Minister of Education of Saskatchewan, celebrated Divine Liturgy at St. Mary's Roman Catholic school for the Ukrainian faithful of Regina and district, and visited with the Ukrainian students attending the Training School for teachers for foreign languages. Bishop Nicetas Budka visited Regina in 1914. He, too, met with Premier Scott and discussed the appointment of Ukrainian teachers for the Training School and religious instructors for the schools. Bishop Budka visited Regina on three additional occasions prior to 1926; his final visit was in February 1927.

In 1927, Bishop Nicetas Budka, the first Bishop of Ukrainians in Canada, departed for Rome enroute to Lviv. From Lviv he was exiled to Siberia where he met a martyr's death in 1949.

From 1929, the Bishop of Ukrainians in Canada was Bishop Basil Ladyka who later became Archbishop. He first visited the parish on October 25, 1931, and later in 1939 when he blessed the first parish church. Bishop Assistant Neil Savaryn, OSBM, made episcopal visitations from Winnipeg soon after his consecration; from 1948, he visited Regina as Bishop of Edmonton.

Since 1951, the parish has been consistently visited by the Bishop of Saskatoon, Bishop Andrew Roborecki the first Bishop of the Eparchy.

The capital city parish hosted the Metropolitan of Canada, Metropolitan Maxime Hermaniuk, Bishop Ivan Prasko of Melbourne, Australia, the Bishop Confessor Wasyl Vsevolod Welychkowskyj of Lutsk, His Beatitude Cardinal Patriarch Josyf Slipyj, Bishop Andrew Sapelak of Argentina.

In addition to visitations by the esteemed members of the Ukrainian Catholic church hierarchy, St. Basil's parish of Regina was also visited by prelates of the Roman Catholic Church. On November 17, 1966, accompanied by Archbishop M. O'Neil, the Apostolic Delegate Archbishop S. Piniedoli visited the parish and met with Ukrainian clergy and their Bishop Andrew.

Although St. Basil's parish has not had the fortune to date of fostering vocations to the priesthood, it has witnessed the ordinations of two Ukrainian priests. Bishop Andrew bestowed the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon Rev. Basil Obarianyk of Thunder Creek on July 15, 1951. Rev. Leonard Romanow of Glenavon was ordained by Bishop Andrew on December 10, 1972.

During the construction period of the first parish church, there were 120 pioneer members of the parish. In 1941 the parish consisted of 60 members with 60 children (Prop. Knyha). In 1975 there were 400 members; this includes 370 families and 30 single members, a total of over 1,700 souls (Parish Jubilee Book).