A Great Example of the New Evangelization…from Canada?!

Beware the conventional wisdom. I mean, everyone knows that the Catholic Church is dead in Europe, right? And in Canada, our neighbors to the north? Aren’t they arresting parishioners and marching them off to gulags and such up there?

Well, in a word, no. As a wise friend of mine noted recently, be wary of attaching labels to folks.

And sometimes the press, even in world-weary, and seemingly luke-warm Canada, shares a story of the Church that is so full of goodness that it leaves folks baffled, amazed, and overjoyed. Especially when the news is full of stories about atheist billboards in Times Square, and such like.

And it’s all because a layman named Danny Schur, of Holy Family Ukrainian Catholic Church in Winnipeg,  decided to share the Good News by making a little YouTube video about the life of his parish.

The result? The six and a half minute slice of heaven below. Roll tape,

YouTube Preview Image

Kudos to Danny for writing, producing, and directing, this great example of the life, the abundant life, of the Church.

And kudos to his pastor, Fr. Darren Kawiuk, and all those parishioners, for sharing their joy with us. Because that short little video was chock full of  so much more of the intangible thing we concieve of when we think of the word “beauty.”

The video was uploaded to YouTube on November 26th and to date has received a little over 3,000 views. Not many in the grand scheme of things, but it was enough for Brenda Suderman at the Winnipeg Free Press to notice.

She wrote a story about it on December 8th. Here’s a taste,

Schur pitched the idea of a promotional video to his parish council after being moved by a public talk by His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the leader of the worldwide Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. In September, the charismatic and multilingual Shevchuk visited Manitoba parishes and presided over the annual synod of bishops held in Portage la Prairie.

“It was born from our own admission that we don’t actually invite people,” says Schur, referring to Shevchuk’s challenge to Ukrainian Catholics to reach out and talk about their faith.

Schur shot the video with a professional-quality digital single-lens reflex camera and donated his services to write and produce the video, spending only $22 to rent extra microphones. A week ago, he posted the video on YouTube and launched it at Holy Family on Dec. 2.

The documentary showcases the architecture of the “pinball-machine” church at the corner of Grant Avenue and Harrow Street and tells the story of several parishioners involved in the parish as well as providing a brief account of how parish priest Rev. Darren Kawiuk came to the faith.

Baptized in the United Church of Canada, Kawiuk was attending an evangelical church when he accepted a friend’s invitation to a Sunday mass, called a divine liturgy, in the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

“Halfway through the liturgy, I heard a voice (saying), ‘This is where you belong and this is where you will serve,’ ” Kawiuk, 48, recalls about his journey to the Eastern rite of the Catholic Church.

“It was a big surprise to me because I didn’t know that much about the Ukrainian Catholic Church.”

He hopes the video will dispel some of the myths and mystery about Ukrainian Catholics, inform people about their theology and practices, as well as providing an entry point into a specific congregation such as Holy Family.

“For people who have stopped going to the church, it shows the church is alive and vibrant and it clarifies any misconception (we’re only) for old people,” says Kawiuk, who was ordained in 1993 and is now in his third year at Holy Family.

“It’s basically for those (people) who do not have a spiritual home. It’s showing them there are options.”

Shevchuk’s visit to Canada this fall also emphasized the fact Ukrainian Catholics are part of an international body with many languages, not just Ukrainian, says the leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada.

“For our people, this is an opportunity to brush off our old values and identity and use them for our present day,” says Lawrence Huculak, the Archbishop of Winnipeg

About six million people are part of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, with 122,500 of those in Canada and 30,000 in Manitoba alone.

Schur’s short documentary is already attracting attention well beyond Winnipeg, with a link to it on the website of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton.

Go read the entire wonderful piece. Good work Brenda!

And then ask yourself, “if they can do this in Winnipeg, then what are we waiting for?”

Well, if you’re waiting from orders from on high, I think that command has already been given,

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”


  • Michael

    God bless them for a positive and well-made video.
    But there is need for concern. Watch the video. What are the virtues they extol about their church: that it is inclusive…uplifting, peaceful…family-oriented spiritual home…child-focused…community…social, perogis and polkas…pretty music and ancient tradition.
    All those are good things. They appeal to natural, human desires. But when the church tries to “sell” itself as a purveyor of these natural needs, it leaves itself vulnerable to competition from other sources that also address them: social clubs, schools, community centers, political parties, heck, even the internet and Facebook (where I found this!).
    All those things are nice and follow us wherever we create community.
    But they are NOT what brings us to the Church. Never once was the central truth of the Church even mentioned.
    If we are not transformed in him and drawn by him into a sacred community, then our churches will become at best well-crafted service-providers. We need to reignite our passion for Christ.

    • Frank Weathers

      I’ll be waiting for your video, Michael. You know where to find me.

    • Henry

      Did you not listen to the video! It opens with the Cherubic hymn. We all represent the cherubim in worshiping the Trinity and are called to put aside all cares of life to do so. The fellowhip depicted is “church” as the people are community to each other. The video closes with a hymn to the Holy Spirit. The whole Eastern Catholic liturgy transfigures us as we enter His heavenly place. We become Christ to each other! Why don’t you attend an Eastern Catholic liturgy sometime and experience this for yourself!

  • John

    How right! We too often think in clichés here! I live in a small Swiss town and the local Catholic churches are packed for every service and the catechism classes are full – and this is in the heart of Reformation land, just down the road from Calvin’s Geneva. It ain’t over till it’s over, folks!

  • AllofCanada

    “And in Canada, our neighbors to the north? Aren’t they arresting parishioners and marching them off to gulags and such up there?”

    A little ignorant, do you not think? Is this really the state of American Christian world knowledge? You should move north, we have a great society here.

    • Frank Weathers

      Yes, I do think it’s ignorant. Jingoists and the yellow press abound these days, which is why I used that lede to help shatter the myth.