While visiting the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, Patriarch Louis Rapha‘l I Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church presented Bishop Bryan Bayda with a gold scroll featuring the three wise men, which tradition holds came from Babylon, where Sako is seated as patriarch. (Photo by Kyla Predy)
SASKATOON — A little after 5:30 p.m. Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon and the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, entered the Saskatoon eparchial communications office with Bishops Bawai Soro and Emmanuel Shaleta and Rev. Niaz Toma.
Soro had been installed as Bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto two days previously, occasioning the visit from the patriarch. Mar Addai is the eparchy of the Chaldean Catholic Church for all of Canada.
Bishop Bryan Bayda, CSsR, of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, was ready to greet them, and led them into the Ukrainian Catholic Religious Education Centre (UCREC) bookstore of the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate to exchange greetings and gifts.
Bayda and the Chaldean bishops discussed how the Ukrainian and Chaldean Catholic communities in Saskatoon work together, and how the Chaldeans here have their own Knights of Columbus Council. Vicar-general Rev. Janko Kolosnjaji and Bayda presented each Chaldean cleric with a copy of Christ Our Pascha: The Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Sako, in turn, handed a blue velvet case to Bayda.
The bishop opened the case to reveal a gold scroll, rich with imagery. The crest featured the three wise men, which tradition holds came from Babylon, where Sako is seated as patriarch.
After the exchange of gifts, Bayda led the Chaldean clergy around the chancery office. Opening the door to the chapel, he told the Chaldeans that, on long working days, “I open my office door and the chapel door, and with the direct line of sight to the tabernacle, I remember whose church this is.”
Before leaving the chancery office, Bayda and the Chaldeans held a discussion about the difficulties faced by their respective eparchies. The issue of language was brought up by the Chaldeans, with the inquiry of what the Ukrainian Catholics were doing about it. Bayda replied that less and less Ukrainian was being used, as younger generations were no longer as fluent in the language, though Ukrainian is still present in many of the divine liturgies across the eparchy. While the Ukrainian eparchy uses two languages, one of the Chaldean bishops remarked, “We have three that we must handle: Arabic, Chaldean, and Aramaic, not to mention English.”
Leaving the chancery office, the group headed outside to the sound of the Sisters of St. Joseph ringing the bell to the Shrine of the Nun Martyrs Olympia and Laurentia. Holding candles, the sisters sang Mnohaya Lita for the patriarch.
The sisters took the Chaldean hierarchy on a tour of the shrine, explaining the significance of the nun martyrs. A booklet about the shrine, as well as a Christmas ornament with greetings in Ukrainian on the back, were presented to each of the Chaldean clergy, who were impressed by the diverse collection of nativity scenes on display, and how the scenes displayed the culture of the country in which each nativity set originated.
On the way to St. George’s Cathedral, Bayda showed Sako the Panagia (Greek for “all holy”) of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which he wears around his neck, explaining the significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe for him. One of the questions that Eastern churches must consider is, “How do you evangelize with culture?”
“Our Lady of Guadalupe,” explained Bayda, “is a perfect example of enculturation.”
The tour concluded at St. George’s Cathedral, where the Chaldeans sang a hymn to its patron. Bayda then accompanied them to Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic Church to celebrate mass, which was followed by a reception at Holy Family Cathedral.