Diocese: Archdiocese of Canada
Deanery: Alberta Deanery
c/o Mrs S Chinery
11142 - 63 St
Edmonton, AB T5W 4E4
Smoky Lake, AB T0A 3C0
St Elias Church is located south of the town of Smoky Lake, AB.
From Smoky Lake
Drive 8 km south on Highway 855 to North Bank Rd, then drive 3 km east. There is a sign.
Schedule of Services
Services are primarily in English, with some Slavonic. The parish follows the Old Calendar.
Sunday morning 10 AM Divine Liturgy. Liturgy will be held for the year 2008 on the following dates: Jan. 14, Feb. 15, Mar. 22, Apr. 13, May 18, Jun. 29, Aug. 02, Oct. 19, and Nov. 16. On Holy Friday, Apr. 25, Vespers will be at 3 PM and on Apr. 27, Pascha baskets will be blessed at 4:30 AM. The service for Blessing of graves is on May 18 (Provode) and our Feast Day is on Aug. 2nd, Feast of St. Elias.
Confessions are heard one half hour before Divine Liturgy.
Ukrainian and Rumanian settlers arrived in the Pakan District in 1898-99 and, shortly after, chose a place for a church and cemetery. Work on a log church building began in 1902 but the partial building was later dismantled when a better site was chosen.
Work on the church building on the present site began in 1902 with Stefan Kolotyluk and Diordy Chahley as carpenters. The exterior was completed in 1904. The interior was finished and painted by Nickolai Woycenko in 1905. A bell tower was built by Ivan Starcharuk in 1906. Different parishioners donated banners, icons, crosses, and other articles for the celebration of Orthodox services.
The church was consecrated and dedicated to the Prophet Elia on August 6, 1906. Bishop Benjamin travelled from New York for this ceremony and appointed Hieromonk Visarion Shestakov, a missionary of the Russian Orthodox Church, as its first priest. Generally, the priests serving the parish travelled from Smoky Lake or other surrounding parishes. Frequently, these were short-term assignments, sometimes lasting 1 or 2 years. The longest serving priests were Rev Mihalyo Cependa (1936-1949) and Rev. Ivan Wasil (1949-1965). Over 30 priests have served St Elia’s in its history.
Unfortunately, on January 7, 1954, during a Christmas Day service, the Church caught fire. Nothing could be done to save the building, but most of its contents were saved. Immediately following, funds were raised to build another church and work started in the summer of 1954 with John Mnohility as the carpenter. The Iconostas was carved by Peter Chetek, a member of the parish. On August 2, 1964 the church was consecrated by Bishop Sylvester, assisted by Rev Ivan Wasil and Rev Michael Andruchow. The bells were installed in the belfry of the new church and the old bell tower was donated by Steve and Nick Cebuliak to the Shandro Museum. In 1961 a church hall was built to provide a place for church dinners, fellowship and meetings.
In 1993, along with other parishes in the area, the parishioners agreed to change their affiliation from the Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in Canada back to the Orthodox Church in America. Since then, the Church has been served by OCA clergy; the present priest is Fr Vasyl Kolega.
St Elias was built at a time when pioneer families were large and farms were small. Now, families are small and the farms are several times larger, resulting in a scant rural population. Our present church membership is 42 (26 families) and we are now part of a communal congregation that attends services in other Orthodox churches wherever there is a scheduled service, and the neighboring parishioners attend St Elias when we have a service. There are approx. 275 graves in the church cemetery and family roots help maintain the ties with some of our parishioners who live in other parts of Alberta and British Columbia.
St Elias is a small but active Church community. Our parishioners are actively involved in assisting Fr Vasyl when he conducts Pro-Liturgy services in the Smoky Lake and Andrew Senior Lodges, Nursing Home and Auxiliary Hospital. Our sisterhood provides church dinners, and lunch after Sunday services. Other volunteers cut the grass and maintain the church cemetery.
On August 2, 2002 the parish celebrated its 100th Anniversary. The Church was Reconsecrated with a new altar table. A monument in the form of an outdoor altar was placed beside the cemetery to commemorate the parish families.