CHURCHES, CENTRES OF ACTIVITY
were tears of joy and pride when the first
Christmas Mass was said last December in the new
Sts. Cyril and Methodius Roman Catholic Church in
After two years of being without a church
building, Slovaks by the hundreds attended Mass,
a sure sign that Slovak community activity,
mostly absent during the construction period,
will start again.
Slovak life in Canada was always centred
around the parishes whether Latin rite, Byzantine
or Lutheran. The parishes buzzed with activity,
the centre for fraternals, rosary societies,
drama workshops which would put on Slovak plays
in church halls, banquets such as the fasiangovy
vecerok, dances. This is where the activity was.
This is where our youth gathered together.
We were proud when Pope John Paul II blessed
the cornerstone of Transfiguration Cathedral in
1984, yet today the Cathedral stands in
controversy as to who controls the Cathedral and
its lands. As a result, parishioners are bitterly
divided and still do not attend Masses in great
The Slovak Jesuits, who came to Canada to help
Slovaks remain faithful to their church and to
their nation, today look to independent Slovakia
and the needs of her people. Since their printing
operation was removed to Slovakia, with the lack
of vocations from Slovak Canadians, and with the
diminishing numbers of Slovaks attending Slovak
churches, everyone wonders how long it will be
before we will be left without spiritual guidance
from priests who understand our Slovak cultural
The Toronto Roman Catholic Archdiocese, like
many others in North America, is not keen on
ethnic parishes and has done its best ( 3 ) to
deter their development. Ethnic parishes which
don't survive leave the diocese with churches
surplus to the needs of the diocese.
The Lutheran parish of St. Paul's remains
basically a small parish facing the same problems
as the Catholic, that as the young grow up they
leave the parish and their children rarely
There is a significant Slovak Jewish
population in Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal, but
whenever functions were held in the community,
Jewish representation was missing because the
organizers were unaware of their presence here.
We must reach out to them too.
If the community is to come together, it means
that all Slovaks regardless of religion or
background must be prepared to co-operate in
national events whether it is a national Slovak
day, a picnic or some cultural event. No part of
the community can be ignored.
In other parts of Canada, small numbers of
Slovaks exist but not in number large enough to
warrant having a priest, even as part of a
mission as has been the practice in Western
Canada. Attendance in our churches in smaller
communities is getting smaller and in some cases,
the priest appointed doesn't even speak Slovak.
It is difficult because of time and distance
for Slovaks to attend Slovak masses every Sunday.
But it is an obligation for Slovaks in Canada to
attend Slovak services as frequently as possible
because only then will these services continue to
be made available to the community. If you don't
use them, you'll lose them.