LIVING SLOVAK
THE CHURCHES, CENTRES OF ACTIVITY
THE ORGANIZATIONS
WILL YOU SPEAK SLOVAK?
THE UNKNOWN ARTS
SOCIAL NEEDS
COMMUNICATIONS
IS IT TIME TO GO BACK?
IT'S ONLY POLITICS
YOU'VE GOT TO BE THERE
WHO WILL SPEAK FOR US?
REMEMBERING THE PAST
THE WIRED COMMUNITY
PROJECTS TO CONSIDER
SPORTS TIMES
A PLACE TO SHOW OUR STUFF
THE STRUGGLING ARTS
COME TOGETHER
WHAT YOU MUST DO
SLOVAK SOM, AJ SLOVAK BUDEM!

Slovaks in Canada
in the Year 2000

by John V. Stephens, Q.C.,
Honorary Consul, Slovak Republic


THE CHURCHES, CENTRES OF ACTIVITY

There 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 northwestern Toronto.

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 numbers.

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 background.

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 return.

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.

Copyright of "Slovaks in Canada in the Year 2000" 1996 - John V. Stephens, Q.C.
All other contents & photographs 1997, Ondro Mihal.
All comments should be forwarded to
Ondro Mihal at omihal@slovak.com.
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Last update on
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