Holy Assumption of St. Mary (Boychuk) Church celebrated its 120th Anniversary on Aug. 28, according to a report from the celebration. The country church is located in the Hamton area, approximately 20 miles southeast of Canora.
According to The History of "The Holy Assumption of St. Mary (Boychuk) Ukrainian Orthodox Church," the parish began to be organized very soon after the establishment of the First Ukrainian Block Settlement in the Crooked Lakes District of Assiniboia in 1897. Families such as: Boychuks, Demianiuks, Tatulychs, Klewchuks, Machusheks, Prokopetzs, Oystryks, Elchuks and Kadyschuks were among the people who in 1897 were the founders. They had taken the opportunity offered by Dr. Joseph Oleskiw to immigrate to Canada from Western Ukraine; primarily the Bukovina district of Ukraine. The parish is most often referred to as "Boychuk," because Wasyl Boychuk had freely given 2.1 acres of land located on SW-34-28-2 to be used as a cemetery and to construct a Temple for the Lord.
In 1902, the first Temple, constructed of logs was built on the present site. As was typical of such settlements, the faithful people would build only temporary structures for themselves, a permanent structure for the Temple in which to worship, and then a permanent home for themselves.
By 1908, the Certificate of Title for the land was officially acquired. The original trustees were: Danylo Demianiuk, Stephan Tatulycz, Jacob Klewczuk, Oleksa Maczuszak and Georgi Prokopetz.
In 1915, the original Temple burned down. In 1916, parishioners decided to rebuild and a new Temple and bell tower were constructed on the same site; this one was made from sawn lumber. In this Temple, an iconostas with many icons was built and the Holy Table is elevated on a step, which is typical of many such Temples in that region and not uncommon in Europe.
The Temple was initially served by a priest from a monastery which was at that time functioning in Burgis. Probably with the help of Cyril Genik, it was found that a local farmer, Wasyl Andriychuk, had received formation as a cantor in Bukovina. After further formation, Wasyl Andriychuk was ordained to the Holy Priesthood and continued to serve Boychuk's parish for many years.
Aug. 25, 2002, marked the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Holy Assumption of Saint Mary (Boychuk) Church. In preparation, the church exterior was sanded and repainted by Nelson and Pearl Boychuk. Paint was provided by Sam and Lillian Filipchuk. About 300 people from across Canada gathered to celebrate. The liturgy was served by Bishop Seraphim, assisted by Rev. Rodion Luciuk, Rev. Orest Olekshy, Rev. Nickola Petrouchuk (visiting from Ukraine) and Deacon Taras Papish.
In 2003, Holy Assumption Saint Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church was designated a Heritage Site of Saskatchewan.
In 2004, with the help of a Heritage grant from the province, a new roof was installed. Other major upgrades included: in 2006 the floor was repaired and carpeted, in 2011 vinyl siding was installed and the exterior painted, and gravesite levelling was completed in 2012, concluded the historical information.
Since 1902 the church has remained active with services every year except 2020.
At the 120th feast day celebration on Aug. 28, liturgy was served by Archbishop of Ottawa and Canada Irenee Rochon, Deacon Denis Letunovsky of Quebec, Rev. Rodion Luciuk of Yorkton, with Nikita Sereda, Ian Bodnaryk, Cody Vangen and Wade Vangen as alter servers. Subdeacon James Davis of Saskatoon photographed the day.
The service was attended by approximately 80 people with faithful from as far as British Columbia and Quebec in attendance. Shannon Leson made it possible for all to hear the beautiful service by providing a sound system for the liturgy.
Archbishop Irenee was greeted by parish president Nelson Boychuk with the traditional Ukrainian kolachi and salt. Special prayers were said during the liturgy for the people of Ukraine, “that they may be freed of war and suffering and that they may return to a free and peaceful country.”
At the closing of the service, Archbishop Irenee spoke to the faithful on the blessing of “seeing how our ancestors sacrificed to establish this church and many other churches of this kind across our country. Through faith even the impossible becomes possible if we call on the Lord for help.”
Prayers of remembrance were said for those deceased followed by a bountiful potluck lunch and fellowship.
“Many thanks to all that worked tirelessly to make this beautiful day possible,” concluded the information from the celebration.