On January 19, 2012 the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (MASI), held its annual Blessing of Water for the Feast of Theophany at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec.
Both Eastern and Western Christians gathered for Vespers at Saint Onuphrius Ukrainian Catholic Church located within the Museum. Originally built in Smoky Lake, Alberta, Saint Onuphrius Church was dismantled and rebuilt within the Museum in 1996.
Following Vespers, approximately 80 participants took part in a procession to a beautiful ice cross erected next to the Museum, in front of the Ottawa River for the water blessing. The cross was built by a team of seminarians from Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary and students of Saint Paul University under the supervision of Father Andrew Onuferko.
At Vespers Father Andrea Spatafora, a Roman Catholic priest and Dean of the Faculty of Theology, Saint Paul University, assisted Father Stephen Wojcichowsky, Director of the Sheptytsky Institute, in leading the service. They were then joined for the Water Blessing by Father Andriy Chirovsky, Founder and Former Director of the Sheptytsky Institute; Father Roman Rytsar, Sessional Lecturer at Saint Paul University; and Father Taras Cherwick, Lieutenant-Colonel Air Command Chaplain. The singing was led by Sub-Deacon Brian Butcher, who is on a one-year contract teaching with the Institute. Prof. Butcher also offered an insightful reflection on the meaning of the ritual at the end of Vespers.
Following the water blessing, Father Roman Rytsar, accompanied by all the children and most of the adults, proceeded to the bank of the Ottawa River where he threw a blessed cross into river to mark the entry of Christ into all the waters of the world. The group then gathered back in the Museum for a reception of warm beverages sponsored by the events team of the Museum.
Father Stephen Wojcichowsky commented, “When I stepped out into the courtyard and saw the ice cross backlit with spotlights and how it illuminated the darkness of the evening, I was deeply moved by the thought that the prayer of our little group was truly blessed. If our faith could shine as vividly and powerfully as that cross, then we could be authentic witnesses to Christ’s peace and light for the renewal of the world.”
Photos taken by Chrystia Chudczak. www.chrystiachudczak.com