Allow me to introduce to you an outstanding Ukrainian Catholic layman and friend. On April 2, 2017 Eugene Cherwick returned to his maker in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada.
He left behind his wife Lillian, and a large family of children, and grandchildren. In his later years, he had suffered through major health issues. How he handled the pain and incapacity to be active was in itself an example for Christian admiration. His attitude toward suffering was truly fuelled by a very strong faith which inspired all who came to visit.
Eugene had the grace to be one of Canada’s Ukrainian Catholic leaders. He had the ear of archbishops, bishops, priests, monastics in the Ukrainian Church as well as in the Roman Church. He knew what the church needed at any one time. His emphasis was Ukrainian Catholic education and religious vocations. His own son, Terry, is a leading chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces. I personally found it be an absolute delight to work with him when I was Director of St Vladimir College, the Minor Seminary, and often sought his vision and advice once I became a bishop.
Many Ukrainian councils exist today because of his work.
Eugene was a very successful business man. When he retired he dedicated himself to service in the church. Throughout his lifetime he took an active part in the community service organizations. But his greatest contribution was to organizations which supported his church and the Ukrainian community.
The Knights of Columbus were special to him. He served as Grand Knight, District Deputy, State Deputy of Manitoba, and the Canadian representative on the Supreme Board. No Ukrainian Catholic had done that before. He developed many new councils throughout the province. Many Ukrainian councils exist today because of his work.
Pope St. John Paul recognized him for his service by naming him Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great.
He served on the Board of Directors of St Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba and at the Catholic Foundation of Manitoba. He led a successful campaign to expand St Vladimir’s College buildings. He was the President of the Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky Institute Foundation of Ottawa. This school is the centre of Eastern Christian studies in North America. Pope St. John Paul recognized him for his service by naming him Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great. Eugene served in a leadership role for many Ukrainian organizations. He was the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre in Winnipeg (Oseredok) He was President of Ukrainian Mutual Benefit Association of St Nicolas and other national bodies.
Besides this, he had a great love for music, formed orchestras, learnt various instruments.He always encouraged his family to learn and study music.
He eventually, in the last few years, incapacitated as he was, he learned the technique of Icon writing. He produced many very beautiful and prayerful icons
Beside all this, I was most moved by his work with art and artists. He was a painter and sculptor himself. He eventually, in the last few years, incapacitated as he was, he learned the technique of Icon writing. He produced many very beautiful and prayerful icons. Everyone in his extended family has one which they can now, or when they grow up, feature in their homes. This will, as he told me once, remind them of their spiritual heritage.
Mr Eugene Cherwick was certainly an example of a Christian lay person. I’m so privileged to have known him.
As St Matthew said, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter in the Joy of your Master.” (25:21)
Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM