Fr. Larry Kondra presents Pontifical Blessing to Fr. Bohdan Lukie, C.Ss.R.
Every once in a while we meet someone on our journey through life who affects us in a special way.
by Cheryl Girard from Winnipeg Free Press
Judging by the hundreds of people who gathered recently, in our community, and the many heartfelt expressions of gratitude heard, Rev. Bohdan Lukie obviously touched many lives and is beloved by many.
Community members, former students and parishioners packed the hall at St. Joseph’s Ukrainian Catholic Church on Jefferson to celebrate the 50th anniversary of priesthood of the dynamic former pastor of St. Joseph’s.In 1967, a 26-year-old Lukie became a priest at this same church.
“Fifty years ago, the naysayers said he would never last, not for a year, not even for six months,” said Orysia Hull a lifelong member of St. Joseph’s. “He proved them all wrong.
“By the way he lived his priestly life, he showed us that we could laugh, have fun, enjoy life and still be good Ukrainian Catholics,” Hull said.
Not only did he prove them wrong, Rev. Lukie, still “young” at 76, went on to inspire many with his humour, openness and big heart. Many spoke, sometimes with tears, of their gratitude for his influence on their lives.
Rev. Lukie taught literature and served in many countries. He was stationed at St. Joseph’s in the ’70s and ’80s and again from 2008 to 2015.
“When he visits you, he ensures that you know you are loved and cared about,” said Stephen Sumka, also a parishioner.
“On a typical day, Father Bohdan will celebrate Mass, take care of administrative duties, then care for his flock… comforting the sick,” Sumka added.
“He’s been known to roll up his sleeves and help with any project… he still does 100 push ups a day, rollerblades miles upon miles, and even kayaks,” Sumka said. Often while listening to classical or folk music, he added.
Rev. Larry Kondra, Redemptorist Provincial, described Father Bohdan as a “classic opera that never gets old.”
Rev. Dmytro Dnistrian, the current pastor at St. Joseph’s, was stationed here twice following Rev. Lukie.
“When I arrived the first time I found the church more beautiful… he was responsible for decorating the church with beautiful mosaics in the mid-1980s. The next time I returned the church was even more beautiful with the new iconostas and stained-glass windows.”
The inimitable Rev. Lukie met with the accolades in his usual style, with humour and gratitude, leaving everyone with smiles on their faces and laughter in their hearts.
But perhaps the last word should go to Sumka:
“As the translation of the name ‘Bohdan’ illustrates, ‘Gift from God’ is who he really is,” he said.