History of St. Anne Church

Within 52 years, St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Parish in North Kildonan, Winnipeg, has experienced immense progress. From very humble beginnings in the Fireman’s Recreation Hall on Springfield Road, where services were initiated by Father Eugene Rudachek on Easter Sunday, May 3, 1959, we have grown to be a large family oriented church that welcomes all who come to us.

On January 17th, 1960, the first parish council of the new parish was elected and on March 13th the site of the future church was blessed by Archbishop Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk C.Ss.R. Construction of the $25,000 church began on a two acre site on Douglas Ave. and Marcie Street, one acre of which was donated by the late Paul Slusarchuk. On December 4, 1960 Metropolitan Archbishop Maxim Hermaniuk, C.Ss.R., blessed the church during the Pontifical Divine Liturgy. Members of the founding parish council included: Nick Laschuk, Tony Denchuk, Paul Polishchuk, Joseph Sobistiansky, Lawrence Popko, Tom Urbanski, Michael Kuzminski, Paul Slusarchuk, Michael Gulak, Bill Tataryn and Bill Wladyka.

The founding parish priest, Fr. Eugene Rudachek, served the parish faithfully and celebrated Divine Liturgy every Sunday. He offered Catechism classes, and personally provided transportation for the children. He also founded an Altar Boys Club and the parish U.C.W.L.C. However, in 1969 Fr. Rudachek was transferred to another parish and pastoral duties were assumed by Fr. Anthony Luhovy, who served the parish from 1969 to 1976. At the October 26, 1976, parish council meeting, chaired by Fr. Luhovy, the decision was made to divide a parcel of land belonging to St. Anne into twelve lots, the proceeds of which were to be used for the building of a new church. Thus, the faithful of St. Anne Parish began another phase of their spiritual journey for the glory of God – the construction of a new church.

With the passing of the parish priest, Fr. Anthony Luhovy in 1976, pastoral duties were assumed in the interim four month period by Fr. Peter Shwaluk. Fr. George Svoboda, a bi-ritual priest, served at St. Anne after Fr. Shwaluk. Czech by birth, Father Svoboda volunteered to help St. Anne in its time of need. He was followed by Fr. Michael Kolenich, who served the parish from 1977 until his passing in August 1987. Fr. Michael energetically and enthusiastically pursued the construction of the new and present church with the faithful parishioners. A building committee was formed, consisting of Marcel Wozny, Chairperson, and members Emile Picklyk, Ted Paley, Roman Anisimovicz, Keith Pynoo, Myron Tesluk and parish priest Fr. Michael Kolenich. The architect for the new church was Victor Deneka of Winnipeg, who had designed a number of Ukrainian Catholic churches in Manitoba.

Solemn blessing of the grounds took place on June 19, 1983. Construction of the new church began in November 1983 by AK Penner & Sons of Steinbach. The dome crosses were blessed by Most Rev. Myron Daciuk, OBSM on May 16, 1984. Pope John Paul II blessed the cornerstone during his visitation at the Ss. Vladimir and Olga Cathedral in Winnipeg, on September 16, 1984. The official opening and blessing of the present church, took placed at a Divine Liturgy celebrated by Most. Rev. Archbishop Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk, Fr. Kolenich and other clergy, on November 11, 1984.

Following the passing of Fr. Kolenich, Rev. Dr. Stephen Soroka assumed pastoral duties at St. Anne in September 1987. With the sudden increase growth of parishioners, and the need to accommodate new programs, the parish council, under the leadership of Stan Holyk, initiated plans to build a parish centre attaching the old church to the new church. The building committee consisted of Stan Holyk, Chairperson, and members: Garry Brodziak, Al Tymofichuk, Ernie Danyluk, John Kowalchuk, and parish priest, Fr. Stephen Soroka. Despite a large existing mortgage on the new church, the Parish Council and the parishioners pursued this Millennium project to commemorate the 1,000 years of Christianity in Ukraine (988-1988). Construction of the new Parish Centre began in October 1988 and was solemnly blessed by Archbishop Maxim Hermaniuk on October 12, 1989.

The new parish centre made it possible to offer new programs to our community. The Kildonan Seniors New Horizons was founded in February 1988. The St. Anne Lubov Nursery, founded in June 1988, offers a creative learning experience for 2, 3 & 4 year olds within a Ukrainian Catholic environment. After 25+ years, day to day operation of the nursery school was transferred to Immaculate Heart of Mary School. With the support of St. Anne Parish the nursery school, which is now known as Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Lubov Nursery School, is still housed within the original classroom within our building. The St. Anne Knights of Columbus Council #10551 was founded February 21, 1991 with Marcel Wozny as the Charter Grand Knight. The St. Anne Ukrainian Dance School, which has since wrapped up operations after 30 years, was founded by Natalia (Picklyk) Radawetz was founded in 1985.

An important milestone was the purchase of the parish rectory on August 1, 1997, at a cost of $154,900.

Fr. Michael Kolenich and Fr. Walter Klimchuk were assisted by Deacon Gordon Mendres. Fr. Terrance Cherwick served St. Anne Parish, as a deacon from 1990 to 1991, prior to his ordination to the priesthood. Protodeacon Stefan Tyrawski commenced his service at St. Anne Parish in fall 2010, concluding in 2020, during which Protodeacon become fully involved in all aspects of the life of St. Anne Parish. The service of the deaconate compliments and enhances the prayer services and all aspects of parish organizational life. In order to meet the requirements of serving Communion to an ever increasing number of communicants, an important ministry – the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist – both men and women – was introduced in St. Anne Church in 1994, with Fr. Stephan’s guidance and the blessing of Archbishop Michael Bzdel, C.Ss.R.

Fr. Stephen Soroka quickly ascended the hierarchical ladder by becoming the Auxiliary Bishop of the Winnipeg Archeparchy in 1996 and then the Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia in 2001. Rev. Canon Walter Klimchuk, who had returned home, after spending thirty years in the United States, served as pastor from September 1995 to July 2010. He celebrated his fortieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on March 25, 2006.

Very Rev. Fr. Mark Gnutel and his lovely wife, Theresa, commenced their service at St. Anne Church in August 2010. Their love and devotion to each other and to our Lord, Jesus Christ and His church, have instilled new life and vigour to our parish spiritual and social life. Fr. Mark’s enthusiastic and energetic service and his dedication to the traditions of our Ukrainian Catholic faith have opened the doors to living our spiritual life, as Eastern Christians, more fully.

The St. Anne Parish Council has been an essential part of St. Anne Parish since the parish began. The parish council is responsible for the overall operation, both physical and financial, of the church, church grounds and rectory. Throughout its 50 years of service to the parish, the parish council has undergone several organizational changes in order to better meet the needs of the parish and took its current form with acceptance of the May 30, 2005 Parish Council Bylaw. The Parish Council includes an executive, elected annually, and representatives from all parish organizations and programs. The Parish Council meets monthly. Our current Parish Secretary is Sara Gillies and we have been the grateful recipients of the Manitoba Provincial Green Team funding to employ a summer student for numerous years. The various programs offered at St. Anne’s Parish are possible because of hard-working, devoted, and faithful parishioners who dedicated themselves to the instruction and betterment of others.

Prior to the pandemic, three Sunday Divine Liturgies serve the spiritual needs of the parishioners: a sung English Liturgy on Saturdays at 5:00 p.m., a sung Ukrainian Liturgy on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and a recited/sung English Liturgy on Sundays at 11:00 a.m.

In preparation for the golden anniversary of its founding in 2009-2010, St. Anne Parish undertook a number of major maintenance projects, including painting the church interior; re-shingling the church roof in 2007; installing a new carpet in 2008 with funding provided by the St. Anne UCWLC; installing air conditioning in the church and hall in 2008; renovating the kitchen in 2009 with funding provided by the St. Anne U.C.W.L.C. and major upgrades to the rectory in 2009 and 2010.

Our 50th Anniversary celebrations commenced with a gala Children’s Concert, under the direction of Maryka Chabluk, on November 30, 2008. Our December 7, 2008 Praznik honoured our founding members with our founding priest, Very Rev. Eugene Rudachek, as our special guest. Our 2009 Easter Sunday Liturgies commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the first Divine Liturgy. A momentous occasion was the May 10, 2009 visitation of the Most Rev. Stefan Soroka to St. Anne Parish. Our 50th Anniversary Praznik, on December 6, 2009, and a Gala Banquet on February 13, 2010, concluded our celebrations.

We are truly humbled to have received such a multitude of blessings from Our Lord and Saviour, are very thankful to His Blessed Mother and St. Anne for their protection and guidance over the years. We can truly say, after fifty years, that “God is with us” and we can truly rejoice with all nations in singing praise to the undivided Trinity for having saved us.