The life of any Orthodox parish or community is made “catholic” or whole through its bishop, who weaves the witness of Apostolic teaching and tradition from the day of Pentecost into the life of those confessing the saving work of Christ even today. This is Apostolic succession manifested for us at St. Nicholas in our beloved Vladika Irenee (Archbishop of Ottawa and Canada).
His Eminence was received into the Orthodox Church in 1967 and ordained to the priesthood in 1978. Vladika was consecrated to the Episcopate in 2009 and in 2015 was elevated as the ruling bishop for the Archdiocese of Canada. and has served his flock with the same dedication and sacrifice of his predecessors, those Bishops who crisscrossed this country proclaiming the saving work of the Lord in Canada.
St. Nicholas is served by the Archpriest Gregory Scratch. A graduate of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, Fr. Gregory attended classes at the University of St. Paul in Ottawa at the Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies and was ordained to the diaconate in 2003, serving at the Annunciation Cathedral in Ottawa. Along with his liturgical and pastoral responsibilities, he also worked as an art instructor at the The Perley Rideau Veterans Health Center. In the summer of 2012, he was ordained to the holy priesthood and moved with his wife Matushka Taesia and their four children to Winnipeg to serve the parish of St. Nicholas, Narol.
In 2018, Stephen Sharman was ordained to the priesthood to assist in the pastoral and liturgical life of St. Nicholas in Narol. Father. Stephen served many rural communities throughout Manitoba as an Anglican priest for over 20 years, before being received into the Orthodox Church in 2012. He earned a PhD degree from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s. with his dissertation was entitled ‘Visions of Light in the Writings of the Venerable Bede’.
The Archpriest Robert Stephen Kennaugh (affectionately known as Fr. Bob) had been an Anglican seminarian student, and then, like so many others, found a home in the Orthodox Church, first as an ordained deacon in the Western rite (under the Antiocian Archdiocese). Later, after a lengthy Diaconate, he was ordained to the holy priesthood by Bishop Seraphim of the Archdiocese of Canada (OCA) in 1991, and assigned to the parish of St. Nicholas, Narol, MB. Under his pastoral guidance, the parish of St. Nicholas steadily grew from being a church served intermittently, to a full-fledged parish with a regular liturgical and social life. In the fall of 2012, Fr. Bob’s health necessitated his retirement, and he was attached as the Rector Emeritus at St. Nicholas Church. It is not an understatement to say that Father Bob guided the community of St. Nicholas to accept those seeking the fullness of the Orthodox Faith.
Much could be said about Fr. Bob’s wife, Matushka Dianne, and her time as the choir director at St Nicholas. Her tireless work of directing and leading the congregation in singing traditional Galician chant, and her tutelage of new choir directors is all the more remarkable by the fact that she was born blind. Her commitment and perseverance at leading the choir and congregation when she directed, and her new role as a teacher and mentor, is an offering of joy and love to Christ.
In the fall of 2016, St. Nicholas co-hosted the bi-annual meeting of the Archdiocesan council. It was at this occasion that the deacon Matthew Beynon was ordained to the holy priesthood, to assist in the Manitoba and Saskatchewan Deanery, and to serve the English community at Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg.
The future Fr. Yuri Hladio and his then girlfriend Nikyla Towes came to St. Nicholas in 2013 (where she was received into Orthodoxy) and were both married there in 2014. During his time at St. Nicholas, Fr. Yuri assumed the responsibility for directing the choir which marked a new stage in the liturgical and pastoral work of the community. In 2016 both Fr. Yuri and Nikyla moved to Toronto to attend the Orthodox Studies program at Trinity College in Toronto where he was ordained to the Diaconate in 2019 and later on that year, ordained to the Priesthood at St. Nicholas in Narol. Fr. Yuri is currently serving the Ontario Deanery while he completes his studies.
The Archimandrite Alexander (Pihatch) or Fr. Dennis -as he was known- started his life of service to Christ in the Orthodox Church at St. Nicholas, where he was Ordained to the Diaconate in 1986. Father Alexander/Dennis served the Mission community in Yorkton Sask. (St. Mark’s) and was longtime dean of Manitoba and Saskatchewan for many years. He was appointed the chancellor in 1996 and in 1998 he was appointed the dean of St. Herman of Alaska Sobor in Edmonton. In 2009 he was tonsured a monk, taking the name of Alexander and served as the Dean at the Annunciation Cathedral in Ottawa, before being assigned to the OCA representative Church in Moscow (St. Catherine’s). Despite Fr. Alexander many postings and work across the Archdiocese and OCA, he always kept in contact with Fr. Bob, Matushka Dianne and St. Nicholas, and left an indelible mark of love and service for our community. Our community as it exists today has much to do with is witness and service to Christ.
On Oct. 7th 2016 Fr. Alexander reposed in the Lord while visiting Toronto. He is always remembered as a founder of St. Nicholas. May his memory be eternal.
Matushka Susan Blomquist was a quite and guiding presence at St. Nicholas. Her life as a wife, mother, and Matushka (Predeceiced by her husband Fr. James Blomquist +2002). Matushka Susan manifested the generosity of Christ towards all she came in contact with. She was ever dedicated (even to the day before her repose) to seniors and shut ins : visiting them, driving them to Church doctor’s appointments, or driving them to visit family in nursing homes. She provided flowers and food for parish feasts (especially those dedicated to the Mother of God) and those who were hungry, all the while giving what little energy, or funds she had. Matushka Susan suddenly passed away on Nov. 7th 2018. Her example of faithfulness, and charity is an example of the Lord’s love for humanity, that inspires the members of St. Nicholas to this day. May her memory be Eternal.
Others who have been ordained at, or served at St. Nicholas are the Archpriest Anastasy (Stacey) Richter, Priest Anthony Esterbrooks, Protodeacon Raphael Cole and Deacon Lasha Tchantouridze.