Father Anton Szymychalski
Born in the small town of Garson Ontario, he was raised in Garson, Sudbury and Falconbridge, with his home parish being St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Coniston.
Father Anton moved to St. Catharines in 1973. He entered seminary at Resurrection College studying at St. Jerome’s University in Kitchener, then studied Philosophy and Psychology and Brock University in St. Catharines, before entering Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Ottawa, where he studied Theology at St Paul University.
He was ordained to the Diaconate here at St. John’s on June 5, 1984 and to the Holy Priesthood on May 12, 1985. His first assignment was to St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Sault Ste. Marie where he was tasked to rebuild the parish community. He was elevated to the rank of Mitred Archpriest by the late Bishop Isidore Borecky on October 15, 1997 for his work in rebuilding the St. Mary’s and building ecumenical relationships in the community. He also worked as a Chaplain in the Sault Ste. Marie General Hospital operated by the Grey Sisters of Pembroke for a number of years.
After 13 years at St. Mary’s, he was then transferred to Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Church is Thunder Bay and served as Dean of North Western Ontario. In 1999 he was appointed Spiritual Director at Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary.
In 2001 he was appointed Pastor of St. John’s and continues his pastoral work.
In 1981, Father Walter Dacko, our founding pastor, and Bishop Idisore Borecky realized a need for a new parish in St. Catharines to serve Ukrainian Catholics who had left our Church seeking a new spirituality.
Hungry for the Gospel and a way to express their Ukrainian Catholic faith in a Canadian way, St. John's was founded, and soon began to thrive. Under the dynamic leadership of Fr. Walter, a priest who led not only by word, but by example, many returned to their roots. The first Liturgies in Assumption School Gymnasium truly reflected what it means to be a "Church". Although we had no fancy building in which to worship, when we gathered it was obvious that the Spirit of God was present. There were faces filled with joy, and those who were hungry for a relevant Gospel message were being fed. It wasn't long before the services were filled.
So much enthusiasm was evident throughout the building of the Church and when it came time to move in, everyone was thrilled and felt a great sense of accomplishment. I had the privilege to be ordained to the Diaconate and Priesthood in St. John's, and to experience this wonderful sense of community and family.
It would seem that over the years, we have lost some of the sense of who we are and why this Church exists, yet the answer is still the same as it was in 1981 ... To teach the Gospel, reach out to those who are seeking God, to comfort the sorrowful, to share the pain of those who suffer, to share with the needy, to be a tolerant, forgiving and accepting community, living faithfully the command of Jesus, and to "love one another".
In Christ's Love,
Our Mission Statement
The Byzantine Catholic Community of St. John’s, rooted in the rich tradition and spiritual heritage of the Kievan Church of Ukraine, acknowledges the command from Christ to “Go therefore, and baptize all nations” thereby recognizing that God is the Father of us all, Christ the Brother of each one, and that the Holy Spirit calls us to unity. For this reason we will always strive to be a “living” Christian community.
We will reach out to those seeking a loving God and supporting community; and let them know that at St. John’s all are welcome, and that
each is equally valuable both in the eyes of God and in our Parish Community.
We will be active Christians, serving one another, consoling one another, affirming one another, and accepting one another as we are, just as our God accepts us. We will challenge each other to grow, and we will do all of this in the spirit of love that Christ commands in the Gospel: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
We will not judge others, but rather, accept them into our community recognising that all are weak and sinners. Rather we will work together, learning to forgive one another as Jesus taught us through the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” and we will learn to forgive each other “seventy times seven” just as our God forgives us.
We will always have a special place in our hearts for the Holy Mother of God, for she is our Mother. We will promote devotion and love toward Mary, our intercessor, and one whom we can always turn to in time of need. She loves and cares for her children. We acknowledge that sincere devotion to Mary strengthens our relationship with Christ, it does not diminish it.
We will reach out in a special way to the elderly, the infirm, the depressed and sorrowing, to children and youth alike, and to all those who need to know that they are of value. We are all children of the One God, and we must learn to live together as children, trusting one another, loving one another unconditionally, and supporting one another regardless of what has caused the need to arise.
We recognize that our strength is in recognizing who we are: “Companions on a Journey.” Although we know that the Kingdom is “within”, we also know that one day we will all meet in the “fullness” of that Kingdom. We want to hear our Lord say to us upon leaving this world: ”You have done your best for me, now enter into the home of my Father.” Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.