The parish community of St. Josaphat in Shoal Lake, MB. was first established in 1919 and in 2022 will be celebrating 103 years.
The current structure is the second church of the parish. The first church was purchased in 1919 from the Protestant community by Ukrainian settlers and altered to meet the requirements of the Byzantine Rite. The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated in it on July 20, 1919. Bishop Vasylij Ladyka visited the faithful in 1940. The steady strong growth of the parish necessitated the construction of a larger church, a need which was fulfilled in 1943-1945. Parish faithful were visited by Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk on July 29, 1962, July 30, 1972, and Aug. 7, 1977, and by Bishop Myron Daciuk on July 28, 1985. The second church, a wooden rectangular structure, was built upon a high foundation on the same double lot site as the first one. It has two small frontal towers apexed by decorative cupolas with crosses. A third similar cupola, projecting over the frontal summit, houses a bell which is activated by a rope accessed from the right side of the vestibule. The main entry with an overhang is reached by steep stairs with handrails which lead into the vestibule upon whose right side originate stairs leading up to the choir loft. The elevated sanctuary, with a baldachin rising over its main altar, is adjoined bilaterally by two sacristies, each exiting to the church grounds. On the central panel of the angulated wall behind the main altar is a church patron icon of St. Josaphat, upon whose corresponding sides are depictions of St. Olha and St. Volodymyr and the dates signifying the Millennium of Christianity in Ukraine 988-1988, as well as representations of the Last Supper and the burial of Jesus Christ. Holy images of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and of Jesus Christ Lover of Mankind hang on corresponding sides of the sanctuary upon the lateral walls. Most of the holy images, executed by artist Yakiv Majdanyk, were painted on canvas, affixed directly to the wall and bordered with decorative ornamentation. In addition to the aforementioned paintings is a large representation of the Holy Trinity with four angels, painted upon the vaulted ceiling, and framed Stations of the Cross, also the artistry of Yakiv Majdanyk, on the lateral walls of the nave. The walls and ceiling are finished in panels of donacona painted a light blue colour which provides the aforementioned paintings with a background against which to stand out very clearly and distinctly. The bottom sections of the walls are painted a brown colour. Twenty-six large and eight small wooden pews, arranged symmetrically upon the carpeted floor, provide seating for approximately 190 faithful. Six banners adorned with painted Holy Images are affixed to pews. The dimensions of the nave are 46× 29 feet; the sanctuary measures 16 feet in width and 23 feet in length. The church is lighted electrically and heated by an oil-burning heater located in the basement. The church was constructed by Stefan Borody.
Near the church stand a church cross of the Crucified Christ, the rectory which was built in 1963, and the parish hall, constructed in 1939. The one-acre parish cemetery lies one mile north of the church. Ukrainian pioneers began settling Shoal Lake and surrounding areas in 1899. In its formative years, Shoal Lake, colloquially referred to by Ukrainians as “Shoalyk”, was the site of a CNR station, thus was the central point through which settlers had to pass in order to travel to settlements south of Riding Mountain and to parts of southern Saskatchewan. The early settlers of Shoal Lake initially attended Holy Services in the settlement at Olha where a Ukrainian Catholic church has existed since 1904. The first Divine Liturgy in Shoal Lake was celebrated near the beginning of 1919 by Rev. Athanasias Krajkivskyj in the home of the family of Phillip Misko. The parish of the Holy Martyr St. Josaphat was organized that same year; its first Church Committee was comprised of Dennis Borodij, Peter Mymryk, Voytko Kovalinsky, and Mykola Klyvak. Until 1904 the faithful of Shoal Lake and vicinity were spiritually served by Rev. Achille Delaere from Brandon, a missionary of Belgian descent who later established the Order of Ukrainian Redemptorists in Yorkton. The first Holy Service of the area was celebrated by Rev. A. Delaere in 1900 in the home of Michael Glushka. The settlers of Shoal Lake endeavored to develop and nurture not only their religious, but also the cultural-educational aspects of their community life. They also played an active role in the general activities of the local community. They organized a branch of the educational society of Markian Shashkevich in 1920, and in 1939, in conjunction with the Society of Taras Shevchenko, purchased a building which they altered to meet the requirements of a Ukrainian National Hall which became the cultural and social centre of the Ukrainian community.
The parishioners ensured the availability of proper schools for the children of Shoal Lake and surrounding areas and provided representation on their town council as well as on the council of the municipality, involving nine individuals in total. Three sons of Ukrainian pioneers laid down their lives for their country, Canada, during World War Il; their names are inscribed upon a memorial plaque displayed in Shoal Lake’s town hall. From its inception, the parish has been faithfully served by a Sisterhood working in co-operation with the Church Executive; a chapter of the Knights of Columbus was formed in 1982. Children’s Catechism classes have been regularly taught; in 1986, enrollment consisted of 17 students.
At its inception the parish registered 160 members; in 1949 there were 35 members with 80 school-aged children. Currently, there remain 100 faithful, of whom four individuals were born in Ukraine. In addition to those already mentioned as forming the first Church Committee, the following were also founders of the parish: Michael Shvaliuk, Dmytro Hyrchak, Phillip Mys’ko, Dmytro Soroka, Frank Andreychuk, Hryc’ Kalyn, Phillip Rusyn, Ivan Golec’, Vasyl’ Soroka, Phillip Soroka, Peter Mykhasiv, Michael Piniuta, Peter Kushnir, Ivan Mazur, Hryhorij Mykhasiv, Adam and Stefan Derenivsky, Mykola Lavicky, Ivan Sloniovsky, Michael Lytvyn, Joseph Ivashevsky, Ivan Dzivir, Peter Bordey and others. The first cantors of the parish were Phillip Bilinsky and Dennis Borodey. Initially the parish was spiritually served by pastors from the parishes at Olha and Oakburn; construction of the rectory resulted in Shoal Lake becoming the home of the following pastors who served not only Shoal Lake but also the neighboring parishes: Rev. Peter Romanyshyn – until 1963, Rev. Roman Zakrewsky – 1963-1967, Rev. Stefan Borys – 1967-1983, Rev. Roman Muzychka – 1983 (8 months) and Rev. Adolf Vateha – 1983-1988. In 1988 the parish was under the directorship of Rev. Jaropolk Radkewycz, pastor. Fedor Twerdun fulfills the responsibilities of cantor.
The Ukrainian Catholic parish of the Holy Martyr St. Josaphat was once under the pastoral charge of Brandon but is currently under the charge of the Rossburn Pastoral District.
**This description was first written in 1989. It is incomplete and we look forward to updating this information in due time.