Church History

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It is impossible to talk about our parish without traveling down the memory lane to the very beginning. And what a great beginning do we, the Romanian Orthodox of central Alberta have! What a wonderful and inspiring story do we have to share with the present and future generations! It is the story of a resilient and God-fearing group of Romanians who came from the Bucovinian Boian (Romania) over 100 years ago (1898) and established the Albertan Boian, 100 km North-East of Edmonton.

About the Romanian pioneers we have written extensively in the last few years, although one can never say enough about their steadfast faith in God, hard work, courage and determination. These are the spiritual qualities (values) that sustained them in difficult times and which they passed on to their descendants. Speaking of descendants, it is interesting to note that 50 years after the arrival of the first Romanian pioneers to Alberta, their descendants established Saints Constantine and Elena Romanian Orthodox parish in Edmonton in 1948. It took 24 more years before the children and the grandchildren of the Romanian pioneers, living in Edmonton, gathered for the first time in their church to celebrate the Divine Liturgy (1972).

Since 1948 until 1972, they held religious services in private homes, in chapels at funeral homes and later on in the main hall, which is now part of the Romanian Centre. The reason it took this long is because they were neither oil tycoons, nor rich landowners but modest workers who made great financial sacrifices in order to lay a solid foundation for this great legacy we all take so much pride in today.

Just as the Romanian pioneers before them, they too had to contend with adversities of all kinds but once again their faith in God and hard work proved superior to life’s challenges.

Emphasizing the transforming power of our Savior’s Cross, an Orthodox hymn dedicated to this instrument of salvation says: “O Lord, great is the power of Thy Cross… for it turned fishermen into apostles and pagans into martyrs…” The same can be said about the founders of our parish and church: A small group of people with limited financial possibilities but great faith and a clear vision for the future, under the spiritual guidance of their young parish priest, the V. Rev. Fr. Mircea Panciuk (who came to Edmonton in 1969), became Church founders, enriching the landscape of this city with one more Orthodox House of Salvation.

On Sunday morning, May 21, 1972, the hard-working parishioners of Saints Constan-tine and Elena of Edmonton were making their way towards the heart and soul of their community to take part in the consecration of their Church by His Grace Bishop Victorin. This was a happy and mighty proud event for the men and women, young and old, who proved that the Orthodox faith was burning in their hearts and souls just as much as it did in the hearts and souls of their ancestors.Their great financial sacrifices and countless hours of volunteer work had materialized into this beautiful church where they and generations upon generations after them would come to participate in the sacramental life of the Church, asserting their vocation as liturgical beings.

Today we are fortunate enough to have among us some of the founding members of both the parish and the church. Even now, after so many years, one can easily notice the emotion in their voices as they reminisce about those moments, which have been forever etched in the history of the Romanian community of Edmonton.

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