VESTMENTS FROM SLOVAKIA
SLOVAK CHURCH OF Sts. CYRIL AND METHODIUS
WESTMINSTER BRITISH COLUMBIA
New Westminster is one of the oldest
towns in British Columbia. It is here, where Slovak Church dedicated to
Sts. Cyril and Methodius is located.
The beginnings of our church started
long ago, with the arrival of the first Slovaks on the West Coast of
Canada. At the request of the Slovak people, especially the members of the
"First Catholic Slovak Union" in Vancouver archdiocese, the
Archbishop William M. Duke, D.D. of Vancouver asked the Slovak Jesuits of
Galt (now Cambridge), Ontario, for Slovak Missionary. In April 1958 the
Slovak prayers were answered the arrival of Fr. William S. Lacko S.J.
Slovak families belonged to various parishes, but once a month attended
Mass in Slovak at the Holy Ghost Church in New Westminster. This Church
built by Slovaks become religious center for Slovaks living in the whole
lower mainland. It soon became too small to hold many people who came for
the Divine Services.
In 1960 the Archbishop established a
Slovak Mission in his archdiocese, the approval arrived from Rome and they
rented a small Church of St Michael's in New Westminster. This is a
central location for the lower mainland districts of Vancouver, New
Westminster, Delta, Pit Meadows, Haney, Cloverdale, Langley, Richmond,
Burnaby and North and West Vancouver.
The parishioners got together, painting
and preparing the Church for the Divine Services that begun on Palm Sunday
Thus began a new chapter in the history
of Catholic Slovak People on the West Coast of Canada. They made place to
receive Our Lord Jesus Christ so that they could live in the spirit of the
Christmas message "Emmanuel - God with us." Since that time,
every Sunday we have a Slovak Mass, sing Slovak hymns and pray in Slovak.
All Catholic holy days celebrated according to The Old Country customs.
Later on that year Father Lacko
negotiated the purchase of the Church for the use of the Slovak community.
Father Lacko was also chaplain of Riverview hospital from 1961 to 1974. In
1974 he was transferred to Ontario to become pastor of the Slovak parish
in Windsor. In 1981 he returned to New Westminster, he continued serving
the Slovak Community. Last year in May Father Lacko suffered a mild stroke
that left him poor health. He was recovering slowly and the every day
duties were to tiring. So, on October 21 last year, Father Lacko retired
and moved to the Slovak Jesuit's Fathers Home in Cambridge,
"He served in the true spirit of
St. Ignatius. In his labor for Christ, no sacrifice was too great, no work
too small, said Ed Starick, as he expressed the gratitude of Saints Cyril
and Methodius parishioners to retiring pastor Father William Lacko S.J.
during farewell ceremonies October 11, 1993. He thanked Father Lacko for his
exemplary firmness of faith, his kindness and devotion to duty and his
unceasing efforts to develop and maintain the Slovak culture, heritage and
At the same time the parishioners
welcomed the new pastor, Father John Kadlec S.J.
Father John Kadlec S.J. was born in
1927 in Pobedím a small village few miles of the spa town Piestany.
He left Czecho-Slovakia, as 26 year old in 1953 and went to Austria. He
was determined to become a priest in and return to his homeland soon
after. He didn't believe that the regime would last.
He spent his early days of freedom in
an emigration camp, later on he went to finish the high school and
graduated. During his studies he met bishop of a town close to Innsbruck
and he has asked him, where he thinks to get the money to study for a
Father Kadlec believed it then as he
believes it now and he answered that the god will take care of him. The
bishop had offered to pay for his tuition's, but in return he wanted him
to stay for a year and work for him. Father Kadlec declined, because he
wanted to go home right after he would become a priest. Numerous people,
not known to him, helped him in many ways throughout his studies. In 1965
he was ordained to priesthood and in 1966 he was asked to move to Canada
by the order of Jesuits. In 1969 he moved to western Canada, Calgary as a
missionary father. His territory was vast. There are many communities in
the prairies and western Canada with large Slovak population, but no
Slovak Churches. Father Kadlec served these communities for the past 23
years, visiting them on regular basis and holding the service for them in
the Slovak language. During this time he has seen the Slovak population
decline in numbers but not in spirit. He is the last missionary priest of
Slovak Jesuit order. During his 23 years of service he only missed one
service due to time miscalculation. He likes to talk about his travels,
when the God was always his side, as he never been in an accident during
the storms and he seems to miss most of the big storms.
Father Kadlec is a priest with a vision
for improvement. Since his arrival at our parish many changes have taken
place. New windows were installed, the whole Church was painted inside,
heating ducts in the crawl space under the Church were insulated, the
Church hall painted and kitchen remodeled, the rectory was painted,
carpets replaced and the basement of the rectory remodeled to hold a
Slovak Sunday school. There is an old Slovak saying the new broom sweeps
better. Father Kadlec adds, it would not be possible without the help of
many members of the church who donated money, their time and many
materials to make all these improvements. He has many more plans for the
future improvements and he is thankful to everybody that helped.
The communist regime has accused father
Kadlec of not being Slovak enough and they sent him to the mines. 15 years
ago they liquidated his brother, who was at that time, director of train
station in Leopoldov. When their mother learned of what had happen to her
son, she got a stroke and died eight days later.
Father Kadlec suffered greatly for his
religious and national beliefs.
I have received a letter from Father
Lacko in late September and I am happy say, to all his friends, that he
has recovered completely. He feels it is a small miracle. He has no pain,
no fever, no swells, takes no therapy, he doesn't take medication. He
enjoys lots of walks at the estate, he bicycles. His diet is mostly
Currently our Church has 120 registered
We are all looking forward to many more
years of service by Father Kadlec at our Slovak parish of Sts. Cyril and
Methodius Church in New Westminster.
Father Lacko passed away in 1997 and father Kadlec has moved to Cambridge
Our new priest now is:
Fr. Juraj Kopanicky
472 East 8th Ave
BC V3L 4L2 CANADA
of 40th anniversary Holy Divine service is available for US$ 44.45
personal check to:
3804 Yale Street
Burnaby, BC, V5C 1P6
40th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
GO TO CATHOLIC CHURCHES
VESTMENTS FROM SLOVAKIA
Published in the Slovak Heritage Live
newsletter Volume 1, No. 4, Winter 1993
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1993
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied,
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