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St. Michael the Archangel Parish

St. Michael the Archangel Parish

  • Author: Tom Hrywna
  • Date Posted: Dec 22, 2014
  • Category:
  • Address: 2388 Rue d'Iberville, Montreal, QC

There are five Ukrainian-Catholic parishes on the Island of Montreal, including St. Michael the Archangel, which was established in 1911, and is the first Ukrainian Catholic Church in the city. At St. Michael’s, many Ukrainians first worshiped, were baptized, married, or given final rites. St. Michael’s past is a memorable one to many of its older parishioners. St. Michael’s history can be traced to 1899, to the arrival in Montreal of the first Ukrainian immigrants. Of solid peasant stock, they had come to Canada seeking better lives. Many took jobs as factory workers. In October of 1902, the first Mass in their “Rite” was celebrated by a visiting Basilian Priest, in an Oblate church in the vicinity of the current parish. For many years, visiting priests were the only formal connection with the Eastern Rite. Many of these priests were travelers from the Metropolitan See of Winnipeg. They were passing through Montreal on their way to Europe. Records show that one of these priests, a French-Canadian named Fr. Sabourin, had transferred to the Eastern Rite. Various parishes were used for services during this period, including St. Anne’s, St. Eusèbe, and St. Charles’. It was not until September of 1910 that plans to build a Church were set in motion primarily by Metropolitan Andriy Sheptytsky, who was visiting Montreal to take part in the Eucharistic Congress. Incidentally, the Metropolitan was later martyred by the Soviets. The first regular pastor for the Ukrainians in the area was appointed in 1911. From then on, the liturgy was celebrated regularly in the Franciscan church of St. Anthony of Padua, on de la Gauchetière and Plessis streets. The property for the present parish complex was purchased in 1912. The pastor at the time was Fr. Desmarais, another French Canadian. Then came the War and tragedy struck the little community. As much of Ukrainian territory was then under Austrian domination — Ukraine has been subjugated by one country or another for much of its turbulent history; rarely had it been autonomous — Canada incarcerated many Ukrainians in detention camps at Petawawa and Crystal Lake, Quebec. In April 1916, the incumbent pastor called a mass meeting at which it was decided to construct a house of worship measuring eighty-five by ninety feet. Because of the war, his plans for a beautiful building were not realized and only a basement church was built. Its cornerstone was blessed by Bishop Nicetas Budka (another prelate martyred by the Communists), the first Ukrainian Catholic bishop of Canada. The church opened its doors on Easter Sunday, 1917. In 1930, construction work on the parish hall, now newly renovated, was completed. In 1954, the old basement church was razed, and the present edifice, under the supervision of Fr. Nicholas (Nick) Kushniryk, was built on the old foundation.
St. Michael’s has Byzantine towers and its interior is Byzantine as well. At the front, separating the apse from the chancel, stands a magnificent nine-foot tall “iconostasis”, or icon-stand. Made of sculptured pear-wood and polished walnut, it displays the icons of Christ the Teacher, the Blessed Mother, St. Nicholas, the four Evangelists, and the patron saint of the parish, St. Michael the Archangel. Its motif is a grapevine, which makes the iconostasis unique, in that the congregation can see through the openings into the sanctuary. There are no statues. Instead, Byzantine-style icons and murals, bearing likenesses of the saints and of Ukrainian kings, princes and ecclesiastics, grace the walls and ceiling. Also depicted are scenes from the lives of Our Lord and Our Lady. On the east wall is a huge mural portraying the martyred Ukrainian Episcopate. The mural includes likenesses of Metropolitan Sheptitsky, and Bishop Budka, both of whom figured in the history of the parish. St. Michael’s is a relatively-modern Byzantine church. It looks different from other Montreal churches, contemporary or not, because it was conceived to serve the needs of people from a different culture, whose spiritual upbringing might be unfamiliar to other Catholics. St. Michael’s fulfills a very important and necessary function for Montrealers of Ukrainian descent, and provides an opportunity for others to see how one distinctive segment of the Catholic Church fulfills its obligation to God and to man.

2388 Rue d’Iberville
Montreal, Quebec, H2K 3C6

Pastor’s Phone: 514-521-2234


Sunday Divine Liturgy
9:00 am – Ukrainian