St. Athanasius Parish was established in 1966 and until 1971 used Archbishop M.C. O’Neill High School Auditorium as its place of worship. In 1971, at 55 McMurchy Avenue, the Parish constructed a hall which was used as a place of worship and a facility from which catering dollars were generated to pay for the construction of the church. Construction of the church and administrative areas adjoining the hall, together forming the current St. Athanasius Parish property began in June 1977. The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the church on February 26, 1978.
As you enter the church, you are immediately attracted to the magnificent mosaic icons and iconostas at the front. The icons remind the worshipers that the saints are with them. The generous use of gold is symbolic of the joy of the resurrection and redemption.
The initial installation of the icons began in 1991 with a large mosaic icon behind the altar depicting Christ Enthroned. Between 1992 and 1994 a new altar, several other mosaic icons, and the iconostas were added.
The iconostas is like a screen which separates the sanctuary area from the nave of the church where the faithful worship. Its purpose is to bring the faithful into the presence of the great saving deeds of God. The story of salvation unfolds through the icons. The icons of Christ, the Mother of God, apostles, evangelists, and other saints visually present God’s story of salvation for us and invite us to come and contemplate the Good News. On the iconostas are icons of Jesus and Mary to the right and left of the royal doors, and icons of other saints including the church patron, St. Athanasius, to the far right.
In 1995, two large mosaics were placed on either side of the iconostas. They portray six apostles receiving the Eucharistic bread on one side and six receiving the Eucharistic cup on the other. Added to the sanctuary were two more sets of mosaics to the left and right of Christ Enthroned. One set depicts the Mother of God and St. John the Baptist. The other depicts the Saintly Fathers of the early Church who spread the Gospel and traditions of the Church. Finally, a processional cross, candelabra and rapidions (fans) were installed behind the altar, and sanctuary lights were added to the back of the sanctuary, completing the project.
In 1996, the iconostas, altar, and mosaic icons were blessed by Bishop Cornelius Pasichny, OSBM, on a pastoral visitation to our parish.
During the spring of 2002 major renovations to the church auditorium were completed – replacement of the floor and stage.
On May 2, 2004, our parish feast day, our Eparch Michael Wiwchar, CSsR, made his canonical visitation and celebrated the Pontifical Divine Liturgy. A banquet followed.
St. Athanasius Parish Priests have been: Rt. Rev. Msgr. & Mitrat Rudolph Luzney -1966-1982; +Rev. Father Lubomyr Ramach – 1982; Rt. Rev. Canon Walter Kostiuk -1983 -1989; Rt. Rev. Canon Andrew Muzyka -1989 -1999; +Rt. Rev. Mitrat Leonard J. Romanow – 1999-2011, Fr. Andrei Kachur – 2011-2012, Fr. Basil Malowany – 2012-2018 and Fr.Vasyl Tymishak – 2018 to present.
On October 23, 2005 friends, relatives and parishioners gathered at St. Athanasius to celebrate the 100th birthday of Bernard Korchinski, although his birthday fell on December 25th.
Fr. Leonard Romanow and Fr. Walter Kostiuk concelebrated the Divine Liturgy. A luncheon in the parish centre followed.
Parish Council President and Master of Ceremonies, Michael Federko, introduced the head table. Christina Gianoli and Michael Markewich greeted Mr. Korchinski with the traditional bread and salt and a bouquet of roses. Bishop Michael extended good wishes, and offered grace on behalf of all present. A short program followed the luncheon. Ted Dusyk, first Parish Council President, presented Mr. Korchinski with a plaque which is affixed to the door leading to the parish centre boardroom. The inscription on the plaque read, “Honourable Judge Bernard Korchinski Board Room”. Fr. Len presented a papal blessing from the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. On behalf of the parish community, Michael Federko presented Mr. Korchinski with a framed picture of the iconostas in our church. Greetings from various government officials were read, and presentations were made by other parish organizations.
On May 21, 2006, St. Athanasius Parish celebrated its 40th anniversary. The first Parish Council was established in 1966 with the first president being Ted Dusyk. Other presidents have been Wally Nimetz, Myron Herasymuik, Joe Hnatiuk, Bill Woytowich, John Galon, Rudy Stadnyk, Syl Michaluk, Ernie Paluck, John Hill, Jerry Solonyka, John Zrymiak, Jayne Paluck, Peter Federko, Kevin Korchinski, Leonard Markewich, Michael Federko, Mark Woitas, Terry Derenisky and our current parish council president, Wally Wilchowy.
Bishop Michael Wiwchar, CSsR, who came to the 40th anniversary celebration, was greeted at the entrance of the church by Ted Dusyk with the traditional bread and salt. Alex Kuzyk presented the Bishop with roses. Fr. Romanow presented him with the keys to the church. Bishop Michael celebrated the Hierarchial Divine Liturgy at 2:00 p.m., assisted by the pastor and the former pastors. Following the church service a banquet was held in the church auditorium. Kevin Korchinski was Master of Ceremonies and head table guests were the Bishop, St. Athanasius current and past parish priests, and Sr. Ann Marie Kozakewich, SSMI who was the first of many Sisters who served in various spiritual capacities. Following the dinner the official cake cutting was done by Fr. Luzney and Ted Dusyk. A short church history was presented by Myron Herasymuik and presentations of framed pictures of our iconostas were given to Sr. Ann Marie, Fr. Andrew Muzyka, and Fr. Walter Kostiuk. At this celebration it was announced that the auditorium would be named the “Rt. Rev. Msgr. Rudolph Luzney Auditorium” in honour and recognition of him being the founding pastor.
In 2011, the Parish has updated and remodelled the Parish Rectory, church offices and board room which amounted to approximately 500 hours of volunteer labour. In 2012 we are embarking on a new major project of repair of the church roof.
Our parish has been blessed with many talented and dedicated parishioners. Many of our founding members were present at the 40th anniversary celebration and we thanked them for their endeavours. We have also been blessed to provide four of our parishioners to the religious life, namely Deacon Denis Galon who was ordained here as a sub-deacon, Sister Zoe Bernatsky, Deacon Bradley Moleski, and Fr. Basil Malowany who was ordained here as Sub-Deacon and Deacon.
As the clergy and religious were honoured in May, on Sunday, November 19, 2006, the parish honoured its founding members with a luncheon and presentation of certificates. Our founding members were: Ted & Ella Dusyk, +Bernard & +Slawka Korchinski, Ted & +Sophie Riddell, Wally & Flo Hook, Lena & +Joe Bihun, Mary & Victor Bernatsky, Paul & Frances Hladun, Olga Mazurkewich, Joyce & +Steve Zwarych, +John & Olga Machuk, Doris Rohachuk, Mike & +Jean Markewich, Nick & Jane Markewich, Myron & Helen Herasymuik, Joe & Angie Lawryk, Gerry & +Albert Wenarchuk, Tom & Natalie Hrycak, Iris & +Peter Machuk, Syl & Olga Michaluk, +John & +Angie Zrymiak, +Nick & Eva Sereda, Harry Soroka, Sophie & +Nestor Charanduk, +Eugene & Shirley Hordichuk, Terry Zemlak, +Steve & Lorris Kuz.
Over the years there have also been many parish organizations which have assisted in making this parish the success it is today. Namely, they are the caterers, bingo committee, Ladies’ Auxiliary, Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood of Canada, Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada, St. Athanasius Seniors, Ultimate A & B Youth, and our catechetical and Sunday school programs.
Spiritually, our parish offers many services to help the faithful enrich their lives and help them reach salvation. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated daily. Other services include Akafist, Moleben, Lenten Mission, Stations of the Cross, recitation of the rosary, Presanctified Liturgy, All Souls Liturgies, Holy Week services and vigils, Resurrection and Christmas services, adult religious education, plus Sunday school program.
To assist in all our church services we acknowledge our Sacristans, the Ministers of Holy Communion, altar servers, Liturgical committee, adults choir (who hold regular practices), Epistle readers, our young candle holders, ushers, coordinators and teachers of the catechetical program.
It has become customary for our parish to have many annual events, namely a Theophany supper, pre-Lent perogy lunch, Lenten Mission, First Communion brunch, Easter dinner, and other brunches, flowers honouring all the mothers of the parish provided by the UCBC, the UCWLC honouring all the fathers on Father’s Day with a cake, the UCWLC honouring the graduates of the parish each June, St. Nicholas concert sponsored by the catechetical program, regular catechism classes for our children on Monday evenings, annual golf tournament, and perogy bee fund raisers. All these events make for a very happy, cohesive parish membership. Also each organization within the parish hosts fund raising events and with the proceeds supports various charitable programs.