About our Church
A History of the Ukrainian Catholic Mission and Parish of Phoenix, Arizona.
The Ukrainian Catholics who immigrated to Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun in Arizona brought with them a sense of strong devotion to their Church. They were Catholics of the Byzantine Rite; dedicated and devoted to their Ukrainian traditions, hierarchical structures, distinct Church services, music, and customs.
Motivated by an intense love of, and profound concern for, their Church and cultural heritage, this small group of devout Ukrainian Catholics, some of which were born in Ukraine and others in America or Canada initiated a concerted effort to locate a place of worship to celebrate the Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine Rite in Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun.
The religious activity of Ukrainian Phoenicians began in 1955, when Reverend Roman Hanas came to Phoenix. He celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the small Ukrainian community for a period of 6-months. At that time, there was but a small Ukrainian community of families from the old immigration, including the families of Michael Stechna, Katherine Ost, Michael Kobel, Antin Terluk and Michael Kryshalnuchky. The families from the new immigration, including the families of Jaroslaw Bakowych, Stephen Hankewych, John Waskiw, Bill Sawicky, Michael Wynnyczok, and the Kowal and Tanasewych families. Some families of the Ukrainian Orthodox faith also attended the Ukrainian Catholic Divine Liturgy services. Unfortunately, Reverend Roman Hanas had to leave Phoenix in 1956, and there was no priest until March 1957.
With the assistance of Reverend Constantine Berdar (born in 1922), who was the pastor of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Los Angeles, California, a mission was established in Phoenix, Arizona. The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated on March 31, 1957, in the Sisters’ Chapel of Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, at 3rd and Monroe Streets, in Phoenix, Arizona. Following the liturgical service, a breakfast meeting was held and the first Ukrainian Catholic Mission Committee was formed, with Michael Stechna as President, John Waskiw as Secretary, and Jaroslaw Bakowych as Treasurer. Their goal was to raise funds for the establishment of a permanent Ukrainian Catholic Church. Reverend Constantine Berdar passed on to his eternal rest on May 25, 1994.
In January 1958, His Excellency, The Most Reverend Archbishop Constantine Bohachewsky of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, approved the establishment of the Mission of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The celebrant of the first Divine Liturgy at the Ukrainian Catholic Mission in Phoenix was Reverend Michael Koltutsky, pastor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Catholic Church in Los Angeles, California. Reverend Koltutsky divided his time between his parish in Los Angeles and that of the Mission in Phoenix. From 1957 to 1961, Reverend Koltutsky would drive every last Friday of each month from Los Angeles to Phoenix. On Saturdays he would handle parishioners’ matters. On Sunday’s he would celebrate The Divine Liturgy and then return to Los Angeles later in the afternoon. During his visits to Phoenix, Reverend Koltutsky resided at the residence of Michael Stechna.
Nine priests were assigned between 1957 and 1961 to assist and, on occasion celebrate Divine Liturgies at the Ukrainian Catholic Mission of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.Rev. Constantine Berdar: 1957
Very Rev. Canon Michael Koltutsky: 1957 - 1961
Rev. Michael Horoshko: 1961 - 1969
Rev. Myroslaw Kolodey: 1969 - 1982
Very Rev. Canon Andrew Mykyta, STD, SEO: 1982 - 1984
Rev. Anthony Pawluk: 1984 - 1986
Rt. Rev. Mitred Archpriest Myroslaw Oleshko: 1986, 1988 & 1995
Rev. Ivan Krotec: 1986 - 1988
Rev. Joseph Chupil: 1988 – 1994
Rev. Yaroslav Dowbush: 1995 - 1996
Rev. Hugo Soutus: 1996 – Present
Ethnic Ukrainian religious activity began in Phoenix in 1955 with Reverend Roman Hanas. At that time, there was a small Ukrainian community consisting of members from the old immigration which included the families of Michael Stechna, Katherine Ost, Michael Kobel, Antin Terluk and Michael Kryshalnuchky and members from the new immigration which included the families of Jaroslaw Bakowych, Stephen Hankewych, John Waskiw, Bill Sawicky, Michael Wynnyczok, and the Kowal and Tanasewych families Some families of the Ukrainian Orthodox faith also attended the Ukrainian Catholic Divine Liturgy services. Regretfully, Reverend Hanas had to leave Phoenix in 1956. The local community was without a Ukrainian priest until 1957
With the assistance of Reverend Constantine Berdar, who was the pastor of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Los Angeles, California, a mission was established in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mission’s first Divine Liturgy was celebrated on March 31, 1957, in the Sisters’ Chapel of Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, at 3rd and Monroe Streets, in Phoenix, Arizona. Following the liturgical service, a breakfast meeting was held and the first Ukrainian Catholic Mission Committee was formed, with Michael Stechna as President, John Waskiw as Secretary, and Jaroslaw Bakowych as Treasurer. Their goal was to raise sufficient funds for the establishment of a permanent Ukrainian Catholic parish.
In January 1958, His Excellency, The Most Reverend Archbishop Constantine Bohachewsky of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, approved the establishment of the Mission of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The celebrant of the first Divine Liturgy at the Ukrainian Catholic Mission in Phoenix was Reverend Michael Koltutsky, pastor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Catholic Church in Los Angeles, California. Reverend Koltutsky divided his time between his parish in Los Angeles and that of the Mission in Phoenix. From 1957 to 1961, Reverend Koltutsky would drive every last Friday of each month from Los Angeles to Phoenix. On Saturdays he would handle parishioners’ matters. On Sundays he would celebrate The Divine Liturgy and then return to Los Angeles later in the afternoon. During his visits to Phoenix, Reverend Koltutsky resided at the residence of Michael Stechna.
Nine priests were assigned between 1957 and 1961 to assist and, on occasion, celebrate Divine Liturgies.
1960's and 1970's
In October 1961, Reverend Michael Horoshko returned to Phoenix to become the first resident pastor. On October 15, 1961, Reverend Horoshko celebrated the first Divine Liturgy at the Brophy Chapel in Phoenix, Arizona. The Most Reverend Francis J. Green, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, had granted permission for the Ukrainian Catholics to use the Brophy Chapel for services.
Reverend Michael Horoshko was born on March 3, 1912 in Drozdowychiy Horodok, Lviv, Ukraine. He studied at the Ukrainian Catholic Theological Academy in Lviv, and graduated in 1937. He was ordained on May 30, 1937 at Zhovkva, Ukraine by Bishop Basil Ladyka after which he participated in missionary work with the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada. He passed away on May 31, 2002, in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania at the age of 81.)
In November of 1961, with the guidance of the Most Reverend Francis J. Green, Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, Reverend Michael Horoshko, and the Ukrainian Catholic Parish Committee made arrangements to purchase two acres of land with an existing church facility. The St. Vincent De Paul Roman Catholic Parish located at 4318 West Claredon Avenue, in Phoenix, formerly used the building. The purchase price of the land and church building totaled $25,000. The parish rectory was purchased for $10,000. A generous $10,000 donation was made by Mr. Michael Melnykovich and inspired other parishioners to make donations to the church. Even the Most Reverend Green donated $500. The generosity of the devoted parishioners who were proud of their church, led to the opening of the parish rectory across the street from the church in January 1962.
The church building was refurbished by the parishioners. On February 18, 1962, Reverend Michael Horoshko celebrated the first Divine Liturgy inside the church. The church building was a temporary structure, which served as a place of worship for 76 families. The building was also used as a hall for holiday and social activities of the parish.
During his assignment to our parish Reverend Horoshko organized a Ukrainian Catholic School. Saturday religious instructions for the youngsters were given from September through to May. The children were taught church music, church history and liturgy. Ukrainian language, history, customs, traditions, arts and crafts, as well as Ukrainian folk songs and dances made up their curriculum.
The instructors at the Ukrainian Catholic School were Reverend Horoshko, Jaroslaw Sysyn, Lesia Wynnyczok and Nadia Komarnyckyj. There was also a children’s choral group under the direction of Lesia Wynnyczok and a Ukrainian folk dance group led by William Sawicki, B. Yourk and Anya Terluk.
Since the founding of the parish, the church has made great strides both spiritually and materially. This progress was made possible through the devoted and dedicated work of various parish organizations.
His Excellency, The Most Reverend Jaroslav Gabro, D.D. became the first Bishop of St. Nicholas Eparchy in Chicago, Illinois. Bishop Gabro was consecrated at the Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 26, 1961, and was solemnly installed at the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois on December 12, 1961 for the Ukrainian Catholics in the Midwest and West.
On February 25, 1962, the Ukrainian Catholic Mission was dissolved and the Mission Committee turned over all the books and financial documents to Reverend Michael Horoshko. The new Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Phoenix with the Bishop’s approval and blessing, was named the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Bishop Gabro’s first pastoral visit to Phoenix and to the newly established parish was on Palm Sunday, April 15, 1962. Bishop Gabro celebrated a Pontifical Divine Liturgy with the dedication and blessing of the church and the rectory. The Phoenix Knights of Columbus participated in the ceremonies and the Most Reverend Francis J. Green, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, was also present. Assisting Bishop Gabro were the Right Reverend Monsignor Walter Paska, Chancellor of the Eparchy of St. Nicholas (Chicago), the Reverend Michael Horoshko, pastor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Phoenix and the Reverend Michael Koltutsky, pastor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Catholic Church, Los Angeles, California.
In his address to the congregation during the dedication and blessing of the church Bishop Green said: “This Ukrainian Catholic Church, rich in Christian tradition, united with the Vatican, is one of the first Byzantine Rite Catholic Churches in the State of Arizona. Your Eastern Byzantine Rite is one of the noblest in the church and carries back to the early days of Christianity. You have your own bishop and customs, but we as Catholics are united in the same faith and love of God.”
On Sunday, April 23, 1967, a memorable part of the fifth anniversary celebration of the parish was the burning of the mortgage during the banquet ceremonies.
Reverend Michael Horoshko, in the true spirit of ecumenism, introduced the beauty of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and Ukrainian customs to the citizens of Arizona. Reverend Horoshko celebrated liturgical Services at the Newman Centers of Arizona’s higher institutions of learning, Arizona State University in Tempe and the University of Arizona in Tucson. He also regularly celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Franciscan Renewal Center, Casa de Paz y Bien, in Scottsdale, Arizona. He lectured on Ukrainian Eastern Catholicism in many high schools and was a featured speaker at Holy Name Society, Ladies Society and Knights of Columbus programs throughout Arizona.
Upon the transfer of Reverend Michael Horoshko in 1969 to the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Kerhonkson, New York, His Excellency, Bishop Jaroslav Gabro appointed Reverend Myroslaw Kolodey as the new pastor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Reverend Kolodey continued the ecumenical work begun by Reverend Horoshko. Reverend Kolodey instituted a weekly Sunday Bulletin which kept parishioners informed of the schedule of services, the financial status of the parish, and other church-related activities. During his tenure he upgraded the church structure to include a Byzantine–style dome (banya) on top of the bell tower and a new heating system. As the number of parishioners increased, Reverend Kolodey instituted an early Divine Liturgy in English and a sung Divine Liturgy in Ukrainian.
The Ukrainian Catholic School was continuing its instructions in religious education, Ukrainian language, history, customs and traditions. Nattalie Brewka, Barbara Stefaniak and Mary Marks gave catechism instructions in the English language.
On June 1, 1969, the founding meeting of Ukrainians of Phoenix established the Association for the Patriarchal System in the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
On May 16, 1982, the parishioners gave a farewell banquet for Reverend Kolodey on his retirement. On May 18, 1982, after serving the parish for thirteen years Reverend Myroslaw Kolodey retired with the title of Monsignor Prelate and returned to the Ukrainian Catholic Church parish in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.
His Excellency, The Most Reverend Innocent Hilarion Lotocky, O.S.B.M., became the second Bishop of the St. Nicholas Eparchy in Chicago, Illinois.
Bishop Lotocky made his first visit to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Phoenix, on January 31, 1982, and was greeted by Myron Brewka and Natalie Saluk in the Ukrainian tradition of bread and salt. Other visits by Bishop Lotocky were made on March 23, 1985, November 28, 1987, October 8, 1990, and November 17, 1991.
On May 16, 1982, Bishop Lotocky transferred the Very Reverend Canon Andrew Mykyta, STD, SEOL from the Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic Church in San Francisco, California, to our parish in Phoenix.
Reverend Mykyta commuted to St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church in Tucson, Arizona, to serve the parishioners of a small parish that had been established earlier in 1982 by Reverend Kolodey. Reverend Mykyta reorganized the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s Society.
In 1983, on the occasion of the 90th birthday of His Eminence Josyf Cardinal Slipyj and the 20th anniversary of his release from the Soviet Gulags in Siberia, Bishop Lotocky visited Phoenix and celebrated a Pontifical Divine Liturgy to commemorate the two anniversary dates.
In 1984, Reverend Mykyta returned to his previous parish, the Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic Church in San Francisco, California and St. Vladimir Mission in Santa Clara, California.
On April 1, 1984, Reverend Anthony Pawluk, pastor of several parishes in Canada and assigned to the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois, was appointed as the new pastor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Phoenix.
Under his watchful eye, many improvements were continuously made to the church, the parish hall, the rectory, and its surrounding land for the beautification of the parish property. Also, new church bells and a sound system were installed. In preparation for the 25th anniversary of our church, Reverend Pawluk appointed a Committee to prepare a commemorative book.
Reverend Pawluk also traveled to Tucson each week to conduct church services for the parishioners of St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Reverend Pawluk reorganized the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s Society and Building Committee.
In July 1986, Reverend Anthony Pawluk left the parish and was temporarily replaced by Rt. Reverend Mitred Archpriest Myroslav Oleshko of Sun City, Arizona, who retired on November 4, 1982, from the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois.
Bishop Lotocky transferred Reverend Ivan A. Krotec in 1986 from the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Omaha, Nebraska, to serve the needs of the ever-increasing number of parishioners in Phoenix.
Reverend Krotec established several parish committees to tend to the needs of a growing parish. A Building Committee was formed to raise the funds needed to purchase a new site for the church. A four-and-one-half acre lot was purchased with the intent of relocating the parish. It was, however, eventually decided that the location was not appropriate and a new search was begun as the parish enrollment continued to grow.
Reverend Krotec reorganized the Committee for the 25th Anniversary of our Phoenix parish.
The first Pastoral visit by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II to Arizona took place while Reverend Krotec was the acting pastor. On September 14, 1987 many parishioners attended the Eucharistic Liturgy celebrated by Pope John Paul II, at the Arizona State University, Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Reverend Krotec had the distinction of being a concelebrant at this celebration. A chosen representative from the parish, Maria Osadciw, had the honor of receiving the Holy Eucharist from Pope John Paul II.
In 1988, Reverend Krotec was transferred to another parish. Reverend Joseph Chupil was appointed the new pastor. He held this position until his death from a heart attack at the age of 72 on November 20, 1994. The heart attack occurred while he was returning to Phoenix after celebrating a Divine Liturgy at the St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church in Tucson.
1990's - present
On January 2, 1990, an opportunity arose to purchase a large church and parcel of land at 3720 West Maryland Avenue in Phoenix. To avoid having a mortgage on this property, parishioners and friends were most generous in donating funds and also made interest free loans towards defraying the cost of the mortgage. The parishioners who made the interest free loans were repaid within a few years after the purchase of the property.
The move to the new church occurred during the week of April 30, 1990. The parishioners cleaned the new church and transported the furnishings using parishioners’ autos, pickup trucks and vans.
The first Divine Liturgies (at 8:30 A.M. and 10:00 A.M.) were celebrated at the new church by Reverend Chupil on Sunday, May 6, 1990.
During the week of September 23, 1990, the old church at 4318 West Claredon Avenue in Phoenix was sold.
On Saturday, October 6, 1990, a Divine Liturgy for the Youth was celebrated by Bishop Lotocky and concelebrated by Reverend Chupil. It was followed by a reception and dinner in the church hall.
On Sunday, October 7, 1990, Bishop Lotocky consecrated the new home of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church. Immediately following the Divine Liturgy, a Parish Banquet to commemorate the consecration of the new church by Bishop Lotocky, was held at the St. Louis the King Roman Catholic Church Parish Hall at 4331 West Maryland Avenue, Phoenix.
On November 17, 1991, in our church, Bishop Lotocky ordained our parishioner, Myron Mykyta, a deacon. On March 23, 1997, His Excellency, The Most Reverend Julian Voronovsky, at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Drohobych, Ukraine, ordained Reverend Deacon Myron Mykyta a priest.
On Pentecost Sunday, May 18, 1997, Reverend Myron Mykyta celebrated his first Divine Liturgy at our church along with concelebrant, Reverend Hugo Soutus. The parishioners welcomed Reverend Mykyta and his family with a dinner.
His Excellency, The Most Reverend Michael Wiwchar, C.Ss.R., became the third Bishop of the St. Nicholas Eparchy. Bishop Wiwchar made his first visit to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Phoenix on November 25, 1994. Other visits were made on November 9, 1995, December 16, 1996, and September 25, 1998. Bishop Wiwchar was one of Redemptorists Fathers from St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Catholic Minor Seminary in Robin, Manitoba, Canada, who visited our parish in the 1960’s.
From November 20, 1994, after the death of Reverend Chupil, Reverend Jaroslav Dowbush temporarily handled pastoral duties.
On August 28, 1996, Reverend Hugo C. Soutus was named the Temporary Administrator of our church. On December 21, 1996, Bishop Wiwchar appointed Reverend Hugo Soutus Administrator and, subsequently, Pastor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Reverend Hugo C. Soutus was born on December 10, 1962, in Posadas, Misiones, Argentina. He completed his basic studies in philosophy in Curitiba, Brazil and completed his theological studies in 1987 at the Urbaniana Pontifical University in Rome, Italy, and immigrated to the United States on November 6, 1987. He married Jolanta Rydzaj at the St Nicholas Cathedral in Chicago, and they have three children: Alexander, Christian and Oksana. He was ordained on November 6, 1994, by Bishop Paul Waselyk in Olesha, Ukraine. From November 1994 to August 1996, Reverend Hugo Soutus served at the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois.
Reverend Soutus was instrumental in publishing a weekly Sunday Parish Bulletin outlining the events of the week. Reverend Soutus established an Adult Bible Study/Christian Formation Group that meets each Sunday following the first Divine Liturgy. Religious Education classes for the younger members of the parish, held each Sunday morning, were conducted by Nattalie Brewka, Susan Stecyk, Katya Boyce, Linda Keilback, Pat Wendt, and Alexander Soutus. These teachers prepared the children to their First Holy Communion while their parents attended the Adult Bible Study/Christian Formation Group under the leadership of Deacon Gary Boyce. On Wednesday evenings Adult Religious Formation Groups were held after a Liturgical Service.
Reverend Soutus was co-founder of the Eastern Clergy Catholic Association of Arizona. At times, our parish hosted the Celebration of Theophany and the Blessing of the Water, and also Divine Liturgical services during Lent. The following churches participated in these services: St. Stephen Ruthenian Pro-Cathedral (Phoenix), St. Melany Ruthenian Catholic Church (Tucson), St. John of the Desert Melkite Catholic Church (Phoenix), St. Thomas the Apostle Ruthenian Catholic Church (Gilbert), St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church (Phoenix) and Mar Abraham Chaldean Catholic Church (Scottsdale). Also, inter parish get-togethers were facilitated by our parish participating in the Eastern Catholic Parish picnics.
From December 13 to December 15, 1996, Bishop Wiwchar conducted a Christmas Mission. Then on December 16, 1996, he celebrated the Divine Liturgy and also blessed the new Iconostas.
Our parish hosted the 4th St. Nicholas Eparchy Conference, which was held at the Francisco Grande Resort and Golf Club in Casa Grande, Arizona from September 25 to September 27, 1998, and was attended by Bishop Wiwchar, many clergy representing the St. Nicholas Eparchy and clergy from two provinces in Canada, along with more than 130 delegates from 25 parishes. His Excellency Bishop Nicholas Samra of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church presided at the conference. The theme of the conference was “Building Leadership.” Many of the conference delegates and visitors remained until Sunday, September 27, 1998, for the conference closing. Bishop Wiwchar celebrated the Pontifical Divine Liturgy. After the Liturgy there was a banquet at the St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church Hall, honoring Bishop Wiwchar, who, on that day, celebrated the fifth anniversary of his ordination as Bishop of the St. Nicholas Eparchy of Chicago (September 28, 1993).
Reverend Deacon Gary Boyce has been assisting in the celebration of the Divine Liturgies and other church services since July 1999.
There have been many other social activities offered to the parishioners. The “Get-To-Know-and-Talk” to your fellow parishioners and guests, by sharing coffee and sweets, follows each Sunday’s Divine Liturgy. It is organized by parishioners who have volunteered their services in hosting these Sunday events. This has been established as a stepping-stone to becoming reacquainted with each other, as well as welcoming guests and new parishioners to the parish. Dinners are also held at the parish church hall including Christmas (Prosfora), Thanksgiving Day and Easter (Swiachene) dinners.
Reverend Soutus established a “Food for the Hungry Box” in the vestibule, to encourage parishioners to donate non-perishable food items for the needy. 2000’s
On October 15, 2000, the name of the Phoenix church was changed from Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church to Dormition of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church. This was done to reflect the proper English translation from Ukrainian.
The 3rd Session of the Patriarchal Sobor took place in Lviv, Ukraine, from June 30 through July 4, 2002, and Anna Dworskij was selected by the Southwest Deanery to represent the 30-55 year-old laity.
In July 2002, a Church Financial Committee was appointed.
From September 27 to September 29, 2002, our parish hosted the St. Nicholas Eparchy Conference for the second time. It was held at the Francisco Grande Resort and Golf Club in Casa Grande, Arizona. Bishop Wiwchar was also in attendance. The theme of the conference was “Living Our Faith – Discovering the Word!” Reverend John Custer, Professor of Sacred Scripture at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, presented sessions on Sacred Scriptures. Also, Reverend Mitred Archpriest Roman Galadza conducted sessions on the Liturgical Chant. Once again, many of the conference delegates and visitors remained on Sunday, September 29, 2002, for the conference closing with a Pontifical Divine Liturgy celebrated by Bishop Wiwchar.
With the increased number of Ukrainian families in Flagstaff, Arizona (140 miles north of Phoenix), Reverend Soutus began to celebrate the Divine Liturgies for the parishioners of the “St. Paul Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Mission” there.
On Saturday, November 9, 2002, Reverend Soutus celebrated the first Divine Liturgy and our parish choir added their voices to the inauguration of the new Mission. The Divine Liturgy is now celebrated at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Chapel in Flagstaff by Reverend Soutus twice a month, on Saturday evenings or afternoons.
On June 4, 2003, His Excellency, The Most Reverend Richard Stephen Seminack, became the fourth Bishop of the St. Nicholas Eparchy. He was consecrated and installed a bishop by Patriarch Lubomyr Huzar (Principal Consecrator) and by Archbishop Stephen Soroka and Bishop Robert Mikhail Moskal (Principal Co-Consecrators) at the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Chicago.
From October 23 to October 26, 2003 our parish hosted the St. Nicholas Eparchy Conference for the third time. It was held at the San Marcos Resort in Chandler, Arizona. Bishop Seminack was in attendance. The theme of the conference was “Through the Church Year with St. Matthew.” Reverend John Custer, Professor of Sacred Scripture at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, presented sessions. Many of the conference delegates and visitors remained on Sunday, October 26, 2003, for the conference closing with a Pontifical Divine Liturgy celebrated by Bishop Seminack at our church.
The founding members of our parish, who were motivated by their devotion and love of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and Ukrainian traditions, have demonstrated what can be accomplished when there is unity, harmony and a total commitment in a community. We should never forget their accomplishments and it would serve us well to use them as role models, today and in future initiatives by our parish.
While presently only in an idea stage, our parish’s next major initiative should be planning for the relocation of our place of worship to a more central Phoenix location and the building of a church in the traditional Ukrainian style. Although this may appear to be overly ambitious, we should be guided by the example set by the founding members. As demonstrated in the past, with God’s help and guidance and a strong commitment by the parishioners, everything is possible.
May the Lord God grant good health and peace to all parishioners and friends of the Dormition of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic parish!