On January 19, 2011 the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (MASI), an academic unit of the Faculty of Theology, hosted its annual blessing of water for the Feast of Theophany. This year Eastern Christians joined with visitors of various backgrounds at Saint Paul University for a unique and uplifting experience.
Following Matins and Divine Liturgy at MASI, approximately 70 people proceeded to a beautiful ice cross in front of Saint Paul University for the blessing of the water. The cross, which stands 2 metres tall, was built by the seminarians of Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary under the supervision of their Spiritual Director, Father Andrew Onuferko. During the blessing, Father Stephen Wojcichowsky, Director of the Sheptytsky Institute, was joined by Father Peter Galadza, a professor at the Sheptytsky Institute, Father Taras Cherewick, Air Force lieutenant-colonel and chaplain to the Canadian Armed Forces, Father Andrea Spatafora, a Roman Catholic priest and Dean of the Faculty of Theology, Saint Paul University, and Father Kevin Flynn, Assistant Professor and Director of Anglican Studies at Saint Paul University.
Also present during the celebration were Father Andrew Onuferko, research and teaching fellow at MASI, Father Michael Winn, Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Ottawa and the Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada, Dr. Ihor Ostash and his staff. Many students, professors and staff from Saint Paul University as well as members of the Ukrainian community attended.
This celebration marks one of the most significant feasts celebrated by Christians, recounting the first manifestation of the Holy Trinity to humanity while Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. As the Son of God was being baptized in the river, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended from heaven and the Father’s voice was heard to call Jesus His beloved Son. From this moment onward, the peace and light from Christ renews the world.
In his remarks to those assembled, Father Stephen observed that, as we gathered for this feast of faith celebrating the manifestation of Christ’s peace and light to the world and the confirmation of the presence of the Holy Trinity dwelling in the hearts of the faithful, the cross would remain as a visible reminder of the Christian spirit which imbues the daily life of Saint Paul University.