Divine celebrations

BEAUTIFUL sounds will fill St Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church in commemoration of the religious building's 45th anniversary this weekend.

Parishioners will celebrate more than four decades since the consecration of the building and also the Feast Day of the Archangel Michael.

A traditional sung mass, where all parts of the service except for the priest's sermon is sung, will be held on Sunday morning.

Member of the organising committee Marusya Jacyshyn said the historic building lends itself to the musicality of the service.

"The sung mass is completed a cappella so there's no musical accompaniment," she said. "It's lovely and quite meditative. Sometimes we also have a choir sing and it really brings another dimension. The acoustics in this building are just great, everyone sounds good."

Father Andriy Mykytyuk agreed the combination of voices sounded very good. "There is a Saint that says 'when you pray singing, you pray twice'," he said.

St Michael's Church was completed in four years from 1963, following the local Ukrainian community's decision to build their own church. Mass had previously been held in St Gregory's Catholic Church.

Ms Jacyshyn said the building is a testament to the strength of the local community with the land and architectural plants donated and the labour completed by volunteers.

"I think it's lasted well, it was solidly built and to do it all in four years is amazing," she said.

"The architecture is different with the dome shape and it's quite one-dimensional. We started with just the shell of the building and over time have added the icons, chandeliers and these have all been donated by family and friends.

"We've repainted the building but we haven't changed it, just kept it fresh and clean."

Ms Jacyshyn explained that at the time Ukraine had been under Soviet Union rule so Catholic mass was prohibited.

In Ukraine, churches were often built underground so for locals to establish a church out in the open on Australian soil was quite a feat.

"My relatives are amazed, Australia is so far away from Ukraine but we have a church," she said. "It's a lovely link between Ukraine and Australia. It reminds us of our history and homeland. Within the Australian community we've been able to keep our traditions and faith alive."

Father Mykytyuk said there is a small regular congregation of about 20 to 25 parishioners with attendance peaking during Easter, Christmas and on the 12 Feast Days.

Ms Jacyshyn acknowledged the uncertain future of the church as the number of St Michael's Church parishioners has decreased.

However, she hoped the younger generation will continue to carry on the work and traditions.

"That's our next big question. What decisions will be made if the size of the congregation continues to decrease, we'll have to think about what will can do to keep the church viable."

St Michael's Church 45th anniversary celebrations will commence on Saturday, November 17 at 5pm with the vespers and blessing of water and on Sunday, November 18 at 11am there will be a sung mass with the Ukrainian Catholic Choir and a community lunch at the Australian-Ukrainian Association Hall will follow.

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