The parish community of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rossburn, MB. was first established in 1941 and in 2022 will be celebrating 81 years.
The current structure of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the second church of the parish. The first church was constructed by the founders of the parish in 1943-1944. Until that time, Divine Liturgies were celebrated in private residences, most often in the homes of Michael Raginski and Andrew Derlago. These services were celebrated by itinerant priests from the parish at Olha: Rev. Constantine Zarsky and Rev. C. Lotocky. The first founding meeting of the settlers, chaired by Rev. C. Lotocky, took place on Jan. 14, 1941 in the home of Andrew Derlago. This meeting resulted in the formation of a Building Committee consisting of Peter Gluch (elder), Michael Osadec, and Stephen Shust whose endeavours led to the purchase of a 2-acre site from Harry Bilinsky, upon which a small wooden church was subsequently constructed. Divine Liturgies in the church were celebrated by Rev. C. Lotocki, Rev. Marian Shwed, and Rev. Joseph Fornalchuk from the parish at Oakburn, and in 1947, by Rev. Roman Zakrewsky. The following year, Rev. Even Oliynyk became the first resident pastor of the parish in 1948 and from 1949 onward resided in the residence constructed next to the church by the faithful. Rev. John Lehky, appointed permanent pastor of the parish in 1956, spiritually serves the parish until 2002. Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk visited the faithful and their church on June 18, 1961.
The establishment of a permanent pastorship at the parish led to rapid expansion in both membership and of organizational development. As the church consequently became too small to accommodate this expanding membership, it was resolved on July 6, 1965, to build a new larger church. To the resultant, a Building Committee was appointed thirteen members, headed by Wally Perchaluk. Construction of this second church was accomplished through the voluntary labor and monetary donations of the parishioners at Rossburn, according to the architectural plans and specifications of J. R. Matthews from Yorkton, Saskatchewan. The first Divine Liturgy of the new church was celebrated on Sunday, Dec. 20, 1970, the year of Manitoba’s Centennial, by Rev. John Lehky, pastor of the parish, and Rev. Volodymyr Luchkiw from the parish at Neepawa. The first church structure was sold on April 5, 1971 and parishioners immediately undertook the landscaping of the church grounds. Several solemn and joyful celebrations followed: on June 25, 1972, Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk blessed the church cornerstone which was funded by George and Nellie Lazaruk and their children; August 31, 1980 saw the blessing of the church by the Metropolitan with the assistance of Rev. S. Borys from Shoal Lake and Rev. J. Lehky, pastor of the parish. The church was also visited on Sept. 7, 1986 by the bishop of Rossburn, Bishop Myron Daciuk.
Although the interior of the church has the appearance of a single nave, decorative architectural exterior extensions impart the visual impression of a short cross. These structural extensions create niches in the interior into which confessionals have been built. The church has a gabled roof which stretches over the nave, rising angularly over the extensions akin to the spread wings of a soaring eagle. The wood-constructed church has exterior walls faced with light coloured brick and interior walls finished with gyproc. Entry to the church is by way of a tall set of stairs through an exceptionally wide pair of doors located centrally between bilaterally placed forward extending frontal tower walls. The doors and entire central frontal wall are of opaque glass. On corresponding sides of this glass wall are two frontal towers apexed by domes and crosses; a third dome is built centrally over the south section of the church upon the frontal summit of the gabled roof. The front entrance leads to a lobby beyond which extends the vestibule. The east side is occupied by a glass-enclosed children’s room facing into the nave. From the base of each frontal tower, located within the vestibule, originate west and east stairs leading up to the choir loft as well as stairs leading down to the basement and out to the church grounds. Eventually, the eastern staircase was removed to make way for the installation of an elevator to allow wheelchair access to the basement and main floor. The top of the tower with access from the choir loft was turned into a storage room. The choir loft which can also be entered from the nave contains seating for approximately 50 persons. The spacious nave is light and airy in appearance; its wooden ceiling is supported by reinforcing arcades whose design and manner of converging upon the centre lend the entire church a very distinctive and original appearance. The centre of the nave before the sanctuary and over the junction of the supporting beams is dominated by a high central dome with wood-constructed sides inlaid with stained-glass windows, and a blue octagonal ceiling. The church is illuminated not only by sunlight entering through the windows of the stylized central dome but also by a large electric chandelier from Greece suspended from the centre of the dome, as well as by a row of symmetrically and decoratively placed hanging lamps. The open and steeply elevated sanctuary has entries to bilaterally adjoining sacristies located behind walls which angulate up to the vaulted ceiling. Upon the wall behind the main altar hangs a large painting of Jesus Christ – Lover of Mankind; affixed to the lateral walls of the sanctuary are large paintings of the Mother of God and Jesus Christ – Teacher. Each holy image, painted in 1978 upon canvas upon canvas, affixed to the wall, and bordered with decorative ornamentation, is the work of artist Theodore Baran from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Carved into the walls are 18 (9 on each side) elongated windows composed of small square and rectangular panes of glass. The Stations of the Cross are strategically and uniformly incorporated into these windows. The lower sections of the windows are of blue glass; they may be opened. The floor is uniformly carpeted in its entirety; 30 pews provide seating for 6-7 faithful each. The nave measures 60 x 42 feet; the sacristy is 20 x 18 feet. The church is lighted and heated electrically; an air-conditioning ceiling fan system and P/A system were installed in 1972. The church has a finished basement consisting of a spacious hall and a kitchen equipped with all necessary amenities. Youth groups traditionally used the hall as a meeting place and young children were taught Catechism classes here. Attesting to the massive size and measurements of the building is the fact that there are ten exits to the church grounds within the church proper and basement.
The church grounds are beautifully landscaped with carefully cultivated trees; upon the site stands a large decorative iron cross and a belfry constructed in 1978 by Edward Shust. The belfry houses two bells; the smaller one was donated by Katherine Fostakowsky and the larger one originated from the former church of the Holy Trinity in the parish at Mohyla (Mears). The priests’ residence, built in 1949 and renovated in 1978, stood some distance from the church. A newer house was purchased two lots over from the original site and is still used today. The parish cemetery lies 1.5 miles north of the church upon a 1-acre site donated by Joseph (Joe) Glushka. The cemetery grounds are also beautifully landscaped with painstakingly cultivated trees and ornamental bushes and shrubs.
Ukrainian settlers began emigrating to this area near the end of the 19th century primarily from the western regions of Ukraine. As in the rest of Canada, the new-comers immediately began to arrange for the construction of their own churches. Between 1904 and 1914 churches were constructed in the settlements at Olha, Lakedale, Ruthenia, Rossburn farms, and Mohyla (Mears). From these same parishes, Rossburn -farms and Mohyla, in particular, parishioners began transferring to the town of Rossburn as their mother parishes started closing. This led to the formation by 18 founders of the present day parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. By 1981, membership had grown to 170 faithful. Ivan Sydor from Oakburn ably performed the duties of cantor during many of the parish’s early years. These responsibilities were taken over by Edward Shust and Ivan Glushka from 1956-1987; currently, cantoral duties and church singing is led by Olesia Hrubeniuk, Adele Mychasiw, and Michaela Leschyshyn. Currently Adele Mychasiw is the main cantor for all services. A Sisterhood has faithfully worked at the parish since 1943; in 1947 Rev. Roman Zakrewsky assisted in the organization of a Rossburn chapter of the UCWLC which has since contributed significantly to the good of the church and Ukrainian community. Other parish organized activities included the formation of a UCY (Ukrainian Catholic Youth) group, organization of a parish choir, annual catechization of the children, and Ukrainian language instruction in the local school, a program profited from by 23 students in 1986. In 1988 the parish was under the directorship of Rev. John Lehky, pastor, Mykola Maryniuk, John Antoniw, Leonard Makedensky, Michael Antoniw, George Lazaruk, and Ostap Herchak.
The Ukrainian Catholic parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Rossburn, is the seat of the Rossburn pastoral district with satellite parishes at Angusville, Lakedale, Ruthenia, Seech, Olha, Rossburn – farms, Birtle and Solsgirth, Oakburn, Shoal Lake & Russell. Rev. Canon Ivan Lehky administered the pastoral district until his retirement in 2002. Currently, the parish and district are served by Fr. Jay Korban.
**This description was first written in 1989. It is incomplete and we look forward to updating this information in due time.