St. John’s Institute’s second annual Novorichnyi Moleben’, a New Year’s prayer service commemorating Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan, was celebrated by Rev. Fr. Cornell Zubritsky in the Chapel of St. John’s Chrystostom on Thursday, January 23. The Moleben’ was followed by the traditional blessing of rooms at SJI. More than half of SJI’s residents signed up for room blessings and, for many, it was their first experience with this tradition. Fr. Cornell’s characteristically relaxed manner was enjoyed by all whose rooms were blessed and the feel of a true family gathering filled the residence.
The complimentary reception and Chef’s Tasting that followed in the dining room enticed guests with a selection of chefs’ specialties: Regina Lazutin prepared pyrizhky with dill/cream sauce, traditional cheesecake (with homemade cheese), and strawberry-topped brie on gluten-free bread. Orysia Talanchuk’s bite-sized bocconcini and tomato appetizers, delectable bacon-wrapped scallops, and home-style brownies found favour with guests of all ages, while Don Don Miranda’s hand-skewered chicken satay, seafood chow mein, and arancini in marinara/pesto sauce were both visually and gastronomically pleasing. Hot mulled wine, rum-soaked banana bread pudding, and traditional khrustyky and rohalyky rounded out the selection of goodies, keeping guests warm and full.
In her introduction of the evening’s special guests, SJI’s Executive Director, Suzanna Brytan, remarked upon the combination of good fortune and faith that led to the Kolotyluks’ desire to continue enriching the lives of SJI’s residents through their donation of photography. Kenneth Kolotyluk met Frances Shaw at the Institute in 1959 and they have been together ever since. Her voice breaking with emotion, Frances thanked St. John’s Institute for the greatest gift anyone had ever given her: her husband and soul-mate, Ken.
The 78-piece photography collection of early Ukrainian Canadiana from across prairie areas, particularly those significant to the Kolotyluk family, is now displayed at the Institute as the first, major component of its permanent collection. Entitled the St. John’s Institute Project, the exhibit hangs in SJI’s Living Gallery, First Floor Gallery, and Community Lounge. A commemorative keepsake – a hard-cover coffee table book featuring the entire collection – was also presented to the Institute.
The St. John’s Institute Project serves to emphasize the vanishing heritage of the Ukrainian settlements in North Eastern Alberta. In the preface to the book, Kenneth expresses his hopes that the pictures will instigate nostalgia, fond memories, and a respect for the past:
“When I started photographing this area twenty years ago, many buildings still remained. Now most of them are gone, except the churches, and even they struggle to survive. This is the sad, but inevitable, effect of progress. I hope that this small sampling brings back the many memories associated with these structures and the stories they tell.”
The evening came to a beautiful close with friends, staff, and residents of the Institute singing traditional koliady (carols) shchedrivky (Epiphany carols) under the direction of SJI’s new Faith Programming Coordinator and Administrative Assistant, Christina Kowalenko.
Many thanks to everyone who made this event such a wonderful experience for our alumni and guests, especially SJI’s facility, office and kitchen staff, board members, volunteers, and residents.