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Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon hosts Season of Creation Akathist Prayer Service

The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon hosted a Season of Creation Akathist Prayer Service and Celebration Sept. 19, 2018 beginning outdoors with prayers of praise to God for the gift of creation, held in a local park, before moving indoors for a time of sharing among people of many faiths.

 

UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC EPARCHY OF SASKATOON:

Season of Creation Akathist Prayer Service & Celebration

Article by Kyla B. Predy | Photos by Linden S. Predy

The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon hosted an inaugural Season of Creation Akathist Prayer Service Sept. 19, 2018. The evening event took place at Steve Patola Park/Treaty 6 Territory, where guest panellists from multi-faith affiliations were greeted with traditional Cree and Ukrainian customs.

While Season of Creation was a multi-faith event, everyone held one idea in common: gratitude for the gift of God’s creation. The Earth is dynamic and full of potential. In a whole galaxy of stars, planets, and other astronomical wonders, Earth has the ability to sustain our lives. The wonder of creation promotes awe and amazement in those who study it. Indeed, it’s the beauty of creation that inspires us to reflect on our Creator.

With this gratitude in the people’s hearts, the event continued with the Akathist Prayer of Thanksgiving in Praise for God’s Creation. Protopresbyter Gregory Petrov composed the Akathist Prayer shortly before his death in a Soviet prison camp in 1940.

This Akathist prayer praises God for many aspects of creation. In it we thank God for our existence, for love of family and friends, and every moment of life. The prayer continues with praising God for the flowers and fruits of the Earth, for light and for water, and for all creatures. These ideas are paralleled with our gratitude for salvation – that God uses our lives for His glory, that He reveals Himself to us, and for our hope of eternal life.

The beauty of the Akathist service carried in the voices chanting this prayer. Even those from other faith traditions, who were unfamiliar with the Akathist form, picked up the tones quickly, as candles flickered in the light of the crisp autumn evening, well-fitting the theme of Season of Creation.

 

After the Akathist service, people gathered indoors at St. George’s Seniors Centre for the program presentation. Dr. Lesya Sabada introduced guest speaker Robert White. White spoke about Richard St. Barbe Baker, an alumnus of the University of Saskatchewan. Baker worked in the forestry industry in the first half of the 20thcentury, and his legacy of planting trees and uniting communities inspires people even today. He and the people he inspired planted millions of trees throughout the world.


 A panel presentation followed, consisting of fifteen panellists representing various branches of Christian and inter-faith communities, with each representative speaking for approximately three minutes. The Christian communities represented were Ukrainian Catholic, Syro-Malabar, Evangelical Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Knox United, Mennonite Church of Canada, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican and Doukhobors. Panellists from other faiths represented Unitarians, Hindus, Sunni Muslims, Bahais and Tibetan Buddhists.

 

Back Row (L-R): Dr. Micheal Pollet, Rev. Brian Maitland, Rev. Karen Fraser Gitletz, Lori Petruskevich, Fr. Antony Plogen, Mae Popoff, Louise Bitz, Stephanie Siemens, Dr. Chris Hrynkow, Dr. Lesya Sabada. Front row (L-R): Bishop Bryan Bayda, CSsR, Dr. Nawal Sharma, Iman Ilyas Sidyot, Fr. Jakob Palm, Sandra Harper, Gerri Madill, Elder Irene Sharp.

 

Most panellists began with a prayer from their tradition related to creation. The prayer was followed by an explanation if done in a language other than English – Russian, Hindi, Arabic, and Tibetan were among the languages represented. All panellists also gave a short explanation of how creation was important in their tradition, and what their community was doing to care for creation.

 

 

 At the end of the panel discussion, Dr. Lesya Sabada invited Dr. Chris Hrynkow, a university professor from St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan to speak about a related initiative. Hyrnkow introduced a local affiliate group for the interfaith organization “Faith and the Common Good”, called Communities Inspired for Environmental Action.

Hryniow explained that, “We want to find ways to motivate and foster common action to care for our common home in ways that make sense in Central Saskatchewan but also draw on the insights circulating the national network of which we are part: Faith and the Common Good.”

Communities Inspired for Environmental Action will hold an event Nov. 29 at Congregation Agudas Israel, 715 McKinnon Avenue in Saskatoon beginning at 7:15pm. Faith leaders including Sandi Harper (Indigenous Spirituality, Teacher at Saskatoon Public Schools Teacher), Ilyas Sidyot (Islam, Imam at Islamic Association of Saskatoon), Claudio Jodorkovsky (Judaism, Rabbi at Congregation Agudas Israel), Sean Sanford Beck (Christian, Anglican Priest) and Carroll Chubb (Unitarian, Green Sanctuary) will address the theme, Spirited Environmental Action?: Why? How? By Who?,  at the Nov. 29 event. To join an email list about the Nov. 29 event, contact Dr. Chris Hrynkow at chrynkow@stmcollege.ca

His Excellency Bishop Bryan Bayda, CSsR, closed the evening program, thanking Dr. Lesya Sabada for organizing this event, and spoke about the opportunity for future and further engagement with the other faith communities that were present. Fellowship and refreshments, including sharing of the blessed bread, followed the concluding remarks. 

 

 

 

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