By Violet Florkewich
The pioneer settlers who came to Manly and Carvel area in the early 1900’s wanted a church like they had been accustomed to in Ukraine. So, in 1909 and 1910, they cut logs and hewed them for the building.
The original parish committee consisted of five members. Ilko Krashewsky served as the first chairman. He donated two acres in the northeast corner of his homestead, N.E. 4-53-2-W5, as a site for the church and the cemetery. In addition to Ilko Krashewsky, there were four other members on the parish committee: Peter Turlock, Dmytro Turlock, Michael Stecyk, and Stas Pytel. Stas Pytel was a homesteader in the Manly District. He served as the chief builder of the church., which was constructed with the help of other men in the parish.
Prior to the building of the church, a priest came occasionally from Edmonton and celebrated Divine Liturgy in the home of Ilko Krashewsky. However, in 1910, Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the newly built church.
Reverend Father Matthew Hura OSBM was the first priest to celebrate Divine Liturgy at the Manly Church. Other pioneer priests of the Basilian Order to serve the community were Father Basil Ladyka OSBM and Father Sozont Dydyk OSBM. The first cantor in the new church was Phillip Mychajlunow, who came to Canada in 1913. He was followed by Taras Borynec.
In 1913, the church was dedicated to its patron saint, the Great and Holy Martyr George. The celebrant for the consecration and dedication was Bishop Nykyta Budka.
The church furnishings and fixtures were obtained by the generous contributions of parishioners. The original furnishings and fixtures included: the large bell, hung in the bell tower; the beautiful chandelier, which was imported from Ukraine.
The church was painted both inside and outside by Peter Lepinski in 1917. He also painted the image of “St. George, the Slayer of the Dragon,” which hangs in the holy altar.
In the early days, the community grew quickly in number. It was soon necessary to add additional space to the existing building, in order to accommodate the growing membership.
Steeped in tradition and closely adhering to the customs maintained in Ukraine, the community at St. George’s Parish followed the Julian Calendar well into the 1940’s. But as children grew, many left home to attend school or to pursue employment opportunities elsewhere. It became difficult for them to return home for feast days and religious celebrations according to the Julian Calendar. The difference between the Gregorian Calendar and the Julian Calendar is 13 days. According to the Julian Calendar, all days are 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar. So, for example, Christmas is celebrated on December 25th according to both calendars. However, according to the Julian calendar, December 25 is 13 days later. It falls on January 7th according to the Gregorian calendar. Confused?
So, in the 1940’s, St. George’s Church in Manly, with many other churches across Canada, made the decision to move from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar.
In the early days of St. George’s Church in Manly, the community was served by priests of the Basilian Order. They included: Father Dobko, Father Shewchuk, Father Slota, Father Zhadan, Father Hannas, and Father Chmiliar. When serving at the Manly Parish, the Basilian priests stayed in the homes of Alex Krashewsky, Dmetro Turlock, Nich Chomcy, Steve Stecy, Fred Tyrkalo, and Steve Andrushchyshyn.
In Ukraine, parishes were served by married priests. During the Second World War and after the War, many of these priests were driven out from their villages. Some were able to escape to the West. Others were deported with their families to Soviet labour camps. Beginning in the 1950’s, St. George’s Church in Manly was served by married priests, who had come to Canada with their families.
Father Volodymyr Zolkewych was the first married priest to serve at Manly; he and his family lived in the old Mudry place and were later transferred to Ontario.
Father Martynyk (a celibate priest) came next and he lived in a small manse at Carvel, which all the parishioners in the diocese helped to provide and support. Since he was able to cook for himself, he visited parishioners, who enjoyed his company for supper and an evening visit.
Father Stangret came next. He and his family lived in the manse at Carvel. They had two daughters, Luba and Oksana, who were greatly admired by the parish children. Singing and Ukrainian dancing were taught by both priest and dobrodiyka. Father Stangret was later transferred to Vilna.
Father Fydunik came next. He and his family lived in Edmonton and he served all the parishes. He was later transferred to North Edmonton.
Then came Father Anton Pawliuk (a celibate priest). He lived in Edmonton and served the parishes from there, often staying at the homes of Peter Florkewich and Bill Pawlyk. He spoke very good English and was greatly admired by all, especially the children. When he left, he officiated at a parish in Edmonton. Later, he was transferred to Manitoba, and then to British Columbia.
Father Snihorowych came from the United States and was ordained by His Excellency Bishop Savaryn of Edmonton. He was a married priest who lived in Edmonton, driving out by car to various churches, as far as Edson. From his first visit, he was well liked aby all the people. After a few years, he was assigned to Dormition Parish in Jasper Place, where he served faithfully, freely giving of himself to parishioners in his parish and at other country locations.
Next came Father Gural, who also lived in Edmonton with his family and drove the long distances to serve the country parish churches. He was forced to retire in 1974 because of illness. Many was without a priest for some time, but Father Snihurowych again filled in, and came to Manly for funerals and special occasions.
Father Snihurowych was assigned again to serve at Manly and area, in conjunction with his own parish at Jasper Place. Whenever possible, he officiated at Sunday Divine Liturgies. Under his direction, the building of the church in Drayton Valley, which was started by Father Pawliuk, was completed. The church was consecrated by Bishop Greschuk and dedicated to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Parishioners were very fond of their pastor, Father Snihurowych, who was always ready and willing to officiate at christenings, weddings and funerals, when called upon. He was truly a dedicated priest.
People who have served as elders at St. George’s Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Manly were the following: Alex Karshewsky, Dymetro Turlock, Nick Chomcy, Dymetro Mastaller, Steve Stecyk, Isador Yasinsky, John Wasylyshyn, Steve Turlock, Steve Wasylyshyn and William Comchi.
Cantors in the Manly Church wo assisted the priest in the celebration of Divine Liturgy were: Phillip Mychajlunow, Taras Borynec, Michael Sabadaska, Tratylo, Burdany, Hasay, and Peter Florkewich. Peter has served as the cantor at Manly Church for over forty years. He was also served as a cantor, when Father Shihurowych offered Divine Liturgies at other country locations.
Through the years, various individuals in the Manly community served on the parish committee. Past members include: William Comchi, Peter Florkewich, and Steve Wasylyshyn.
Currently, the parish committee consists of the following members: Frank Florkewich (president), Patricia Wasylyshyn (treasurer), and Pauline Newman (secretary).