Holy Ghost Parish first showed signs of its spiritual life on January 19, 1912, when Father Theodore Dvulit performed the consecration of water outside Saint-Gabriel church on Center Street. At the time, classes in Ukrainian were offered at the local Catholic School and a chapter of the Prosvita Society was also founded there. In 1929 the Sisters Servants took over teaching Ukrainian youth. On February 23, 1931, the first meeting of neighborhood parishioners was held, where a church committee was elected and fundraising for building a new church was initiated.
Father Josaphat Tymochko OSBM became the first pastor. In 1934, land was purchased for construction of the church. During Father Josaphat Jean's short tenure as parish priest here, the church hall was built. However, due to the war and a shortage of building materials, building the church came later.
The church's cornerstone was finally consecrated and laid on June 29, 1947; the ceremony was overseen by Father Benjamin Baranyk, Superior of the Basilian Fathers in Canada. Finally on March 7 the following year, the first Mass was celebrated in the newly built church, with 495 people receiving Holy Communion that day. The Very Reverend Bishop Isidore Borecky consecrated the church on June 27, 1948 in a grand ceremony. In 1953 the church interior was painted by painter Leonid Parfetsky, whereas the choirs, the sacristy and the vestibule - by painter Volodymyr Moshynsky.
Many pastors served this parish. In chronological order: Fr. Teodor Dvulit, Fr. Ivan Perepylytsya, Fr. Mykhaylo Hryhoriychuk, Fr. Yosafat Tymochko, Fr. Hryhoriy Trukh, Fr. Josaphat Jean, Fr. Pavlo Hevko, Fr. Christopher Kondratiuk, Fr. Sevastian Shevchuk, Fr. Markian Pasicznyk, Fr. Nicholas Siryy, Fr. Volodymyr Verbitsky, Fr. Nykolay Markiv, Fr. Mychaylo Horoshko, Fr. Yaroslav Haymanovych, Fr. Hryhoriy Onufriv, Fr. Lev Chayka, Fr. Stefan Kolyankivsky, Fr. Ivan Hawryluk, Fr. Serhij Gar and Fr. Oleh Koretsky. Our latest pastor, Fr. Volodymyr Vitt, has served our church since September 2001.
To date, the parish operates a branch of the UCWLC (Ukrainian Catholic Women's League of Canada), which is headed by the enthusiastic Ms. Maria Hruszowska, who by her own example inspires everyone to work for the good of our parish. And, although the majority of our members are of advanced age, they work tirelessly, organizing numerous events and care for the welfare and beauty of this church.
The parish church committee is headed by Mrs. Marianna Nestorowich, who enjoys much prestige and respect among all our parishioners. Together with her husband, Mykhailo, they selflessly and with great dedication work for the good of our community. There are never any events or performances without their active participation. Be it organizing and conducting meetings of the Church Committee, the traditional Kutya and Sviachene (the Chrismas and Easter communal luncheons, respectively), running the bingo, maintaining church records, overseeing the cleanliness and proper technical condition of the church building and parish hall - all this, and more, rests upon their shoulders. Every Sunday Mrs. Marianna joins the ranks of the church choir, and during the week, together with Ms. Maria Hruszowska, she assists the pastor during Holy Masses for private intentions
Breaking bread together in celebration of religious milestones have become a cherished tradition, starting with the Parish Kutya, which we have at Christmas-time, and the Sviachene which takes place during the Easter period, along with the weekly coffee and baked goods served on Sundays following Mass. The ever popular Bingo for the seniors of our parish is held every Tuesday at one o'clock in the afternoon in our church parish hall.
Four altar boys minister at the altar and the choir's singing exalts both Sunday and holyday worship. Mr. Stephan Melnyk, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, is the oldest active member and still performs his cantor's functions during worship.
For obvious political reasons, many young people have left the province of Quebec over the years, and immigration quotas for those wishing to come to Canada from Ukraine are very small. Even for those who have immigrated here, learning two new languages isn't easy, but people do manage to adapt and integrate themselves within Quebec society. Therefore, the number of parishioners in Montreal and the surrounding area has been decreasing dramatically over a long period of time. Most of our parishioners are 70 to 80 years old.
We are very happy to say that, in the last two years, several young immigrant families from Ukraine, with children of all ages, have joined our ranks, and we hope that this trend continues. The community extends its hospitality in every way possible to help the newcomers feel welcome. So far this approach seems to be working, as the new members tell us they feel comfortable and accepted.
Although each and every year we see around 6 or 8 of our parishioners pass on, our parish manages to maintain its membership at around 70 families.