The faithful of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy in Chicago gathered on a crisp, sunny October morning to consecrate the newly-built Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic Church and Shrine of the New Martyrs of Ukraine of the 20th Century, in Palatine, IL. It was the first time in 44 years that a new church had been consecrated in the Eparchy.
The much-anticipated day came after 14 months of construction; 15 years of fundraising efforts; and after many roadblocks and challenges which were only exacerbated by the Covid 19 pandemic. Fortunately, the parish’s spiritual directors, Pastor Mykhailo Kuzma and Associate Pastor Yaroslav Mendyuk, provided constant prayer, encouragement, and leadership which kept the entire community motivated and focused. Even during the hardest moments, the Building Committee lead by Michael Panko and Financial Officer Lesia Stasiuk, never wavered. The volunteers kept working and donations—somehow-- kept coming in, many from outside the parish, and many even from non-Ukrainians. The parish is deeply grateful for the Selfreliance Federal Credit Union and its Foundation; as well as the Heritage Foundation for their generous donations over the years. Without their financial help, the project would not have been realized.
The Oct. 10, consecration and subsequent Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk, along with priests representing all the Ukrainian Catholic parishes in Chicago as well as the Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Bloomingdale, IL. The event was enriched by the beautiful singing of the Immaculate Conception Church Choir which was joined by the choir of the American Ukrainian Youth Association Mykola Pavlushkova Branch in Chicago. One of the highlights of the ceremony was the blessing of a new altar built by a master craftsman in Lviv. It had arrived from Ukraine only days earlier.
The new church is designed in the style of a traditional Hutzul wooden church. Architect Joseph Mycyk took his inspiration from the church’s Hutzul bell tower which had been erected more than 30 years earlier by original founders of the Parish. Mr. Mycyk was able to design the new church around that bell tower making it one of the focal points of the new design and miraculously without having to move it from its original spot. This created a beautiful transition between the old church and the new church. Tragically, Mr. Mycyk succumbed to cancer two months before the blessing of the new church but his vision, creativity and attention to detail will remain in the church for generations to come.
Beyond the design, the church features accommodations for 200 worshipers in the Nave; a lift and a ramp for easy access for all; a parish office and conference room; and a large lower basement level for parish gatherings.
Much work remains as the parish now re-focuses its efforts on paying the mortgage and securing funds to furnish the interior of the church. In addition, the parish is committed to becoming a true place of worship for all who seek to know Christ, and as its designation as an Eparchial Shrine, is committed to spreading the ministry of the New Martyrs of Ukraine of the 20th Century.
Autor: Kalyna Wasiunec