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Our Last Supper


With only a week to go until Unity 2014, members of the Core Team and Edmonton Eparchial young adults gathered together for a final grand meeting to touch on some last-minute points before Unity begins. In an alarming coincidence, we realized that there were 13 of us seated around the table… just like Jesus and His 12 Apostles at the Last Supper. Can you guess where Jesus and Judas sit in this picture?




Speaker Spotlight: Sr. Emily Shietzsch, SSMI

The Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate are a very important part of Unity; after all, it was Sr. Marie Bielski, SSMI who came up with the idea! As a result, we are so blessed to have some of the SSMI with us for our Unity weekend. One such lady is none other than Sr. Emily Schietzsch.


Sr. Emily will be giving a session on vocations entitled, “Our Christian Vocation: To Boldly Go With God Where We Have Never Gone Before.” Sr. Emily did a session on Vocations in Pinawa in 2012, but her session touched so many hearts that the Core Team knew they just had to have her again for this Unity! I also think this is the point where I’m supposed to mention that Sr. Emily is a minor Trekkie, so that may or may not come up in her session. As for her professional bio, she writes the following:

I was born and raised in Edmonton, AB. I joined the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate in September of 2010 and currently reside in the Provincial House in Toronto. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Theology. I enjoy alpine skiing, walking and serving the disabled, the need and the frail.

A true sister, through and through! I’d love to hear what she has to say about finding our way to what God intends for us, wouldn’t you?


Joyanne 😀

Core Team Spotlight: Erin Mayko

Another Core Team Spotlight?! How many people are on this Core Team? Just enough, my friends, just enough. On this episode of the Core Team Spotlight it’s sibling time once again with Beth’s younger sister, Erin Mayko.


Catching up with Erin, we were able to chat a bit about Unity 2014:

So, Erin, Unity’s right around the corner! Remind me and our audience what your position on the Core Team is.
My job on the core team is organizing and implementing the non-liturgical, social elements (mainly the Icebreakers, taste of the Eparchies, and banquet/Zabava). I also help out with the other areas when needed.

So, basically, you’re in charge of fun! What a great role to have. Does this mean that if there aren’t enough party hats, we can complain to you? Just kidding; I know there aren’t any party hats. You’ve been to Pinawa for Unity 2012 and your sister, Beth, also attended Unity 2009 in Ancaster. No doubt this Unity is going to be different than the previous two. What do you think the Edmonton Eparchy has to offer in order to make this Unity awesome?
We have a large youth following in Edmonton/Alberta, so we have the man power to make it awesome.

Strength in numbers. I like it! I’ve asked everyone else this and you’re no exception: what are you most excited about Unity 2014?
I am most looking forward to meeting new people and making more connections with people my age who share my faith.

One last question: if you could convince someone to come to Unity in one sentence, what would you say?
How many people can say they have a group of friends that not only have a mutual passion for The Lord, but are also willing to express it and walk through their faith journey together?

Eh? Pretty great answers! Just another reason to register, register, REGISTER! By August 7! Cheques and credit cards are welcome and don’t forget to email us with any questions you may have by filling out the Contact Form.

God bless!

Joyanne 😀

Speaker Spotlight: Jess Lastiwka

Ever wanted to know more about the Divine Liturgy and what’s really happening during all those “Lord, have mercy”s and signs of the cross? We’ve got just the person to walk you through it: Jess Lastiwka.


Learning more about Jess means understanding the following in her own words:

Jessalyn Lastiwka is a cradle Ukr Cath born and raised in Sherwood Park. She has a love of learning and thus has been going to school, as a teacher or student, for 29 years.   She first obtained a degree in Environmental and Conservational Science and immediately after that lived for one year at “ Welcome Home”, a mission of the Ukr. Catholic Redemptorists in Winnepeg.  Jessalyn met her future husband Father Bohdan Nahachewsky at various youth events during this time. Something had begun between the two of them and she followed him to Ottawa where they both studied Theology. They were quickly convinced of God’s plan for them and were married the next summer. God blessed them with 3 children- Theo, Joseph, and Seraphine. In between being a mom and a seminarian/Deacon/priest’s wife Jess was able to complete a Bachelor of Theology degree in Eastern Christian Studies.

The family was stationed in Lloydminster for the past 10 years. There Jessalyn taught music lessons to young children and subsequently decided to pursue teaching. She completed a Bachelor of Education degree in 2011 and has been teaching elementary school ever since. They moved to Calgary this past summer and are now serving at St Stephen’s Parish.

Whew! Busy lady, indeed! No doubt with all the knowledge she has obtained through her studies and marriage Jess will be able to lead those attending her session into a better understanding of our Divine Liturgy. Another #GreatReason to attend Unity 2014.

God bless,


Core Team Spotlight: Damian Rudiak

Core Team Spotlight time. Who shall it be? My dear baby brother, Damian Rudiak!


To help all you get better acquainted with Damian, I went ahead and interviewed him for just that purpose.

So, Damian, here we are about 2 weeks away from Unity 2014! Let’s start by telling everyone what your position on the Core Team is.
I don’t know what my job is on the Core Team. I give my insight when I feel it applies, which doesn’t happen that often since this is my first Unity. I guess I’m a voice for the people who are new to Unity since I’m new as well.

That’s a very good point, and a really important perspective to have, especially since we hope a lot of new people will attend Unity this August. Going through all this planning, then, what does Unity mean for you?
I spend most of my time talking about God with kids so Unity is a chance for me to talk with people my own age about God and share in our experiences and struggles.

Ah, yes, the joys of being the Assistant Director of Camp Oselia. I’m sure you’ll find no shortage of inspiring conversation at Unity. Speaking of which, what are you most looking forward to during Unity?
I’m excited to spend time with all our guests and really get to know them and just hang out. Oh and talking. I’m really excited to talk.

And people say we aren’t siblings… that gift of gab really does run in the family! But enough about our family. Since you are a newbie to Unity, which, as we’ve already discussed, is an valuable perspective to have on the Core Team, why would you encourage others to come to Unity?
People should come to Unity for the sole purpose of meeting me…obviously. If you’re unsure about your faith or you’re very passionate and want a deeper understanding, why not come to Unity? It is the place you will get your answers which hopefully lead to more questions…and then more answers…and more questions and answers and staying up all night having a discussion about Christ in a non-judgmental environment where everyone understands how you feel and what you’re going through and they just want to support you in the hopes they might find some comfort in sharing God with you.

*Sniff* Wow, I didn’t know my baby bro had it in him! Well, peeps, you heard the man! Get yourselves to Unity. Only 13 days until we begin! Make sure to get your registrations in by August 7 (otherwise you might not have food…).


Joyanne 😀

Speaker Spotlight: Bishop Bryan Bayda

Who’s the man of the hour? Why, it’s Bishop Bryan Bayda, of course!

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 2.13.02 PM


We have the pleasure of hosting Saskatchewan’s Bishop Bryan Bayda, who will be participating in the Bishop’s Panel alongside Bishop David Motiuk, as well as leading his session on World Religions. Entitled “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” Bishop Bryan will speak on the sometimes baffling subject of how we as Ukrainian Catholic young adults can interact and learn from our neighbours with different faiths while still keeping and growing in our own faith. As Bishop Bryan puts it, “What is UNITY after all?”

As for the man under the mitre, Bishop Bryan describes himself thus:

Born on his mother’s birthday August 21, 1961 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Bryan became the third of six children that God entrusted to his parents Joseph and Florence Bayda.  He attended Bishop Murray Elementary School in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and high school at St. Vladimir’s College Minor Seminary in Roblin, Manitoba. The minor seminary, served by the Ukrainian Catholic Redemptorists, played an important role in nurturing his prayer life, Eastern spirituality and love for the performing arts of his Ukrainian heritage.

His post secondary education includes a 1982 BA from U of Toronto; 1987 M.Div. from U of Toronto St. Michael’s College; 1990 B.Ed. from U of Manitoba; and 1997 Eastern Theology Diploma from Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies. He professed perpetual vows as a Redemptorist in 1986, was ordained a priest May 30, 1987 and served in parishes, taught high school, did pastoral ministry, played an active role in various church youth activities including retreats, eparchial summer camps, five World Youth Day Pilgrimages and Youth For Christ Rallies.

On May 2, 2008 Pope Benedict XIV appointed him as Bishop of the Eparchy of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for Ukrainian Catholics and he was ordained bishop on June 27, 2008. He currently serves on the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Doctrine Commission and Bishop Bryan still enjoys activities such as scuba diving, playing guitar and card games, and the occasional round of golf.

A pretty cool guy, if I do say so myself. I mean, just check out his shades from the last Unity in Pinawa:


God bless!

Joyanne 😀

P.s. 15 days!!! It’s not too late to register, so don’t delay!

Speaker Spotlight: Fr. Stephen Wojcichowsky

Another day, another SPEAKER SPOTLIGHT! Today? Our fearless Keynote Speaker, Fr. Stephen Wojcichowsky (I’m still having trouble spelling his last name).


When asked to give us a brief bio, Fr. Stephen sent us the following:

Father Stephen was born and raised in Montreal.

He was educated at the following post-secondary institutions: 

  • Loyola of Montreal (B.A. in Political Science; post-B.A. diploma in Theology),
  • University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto (M.A. in Theology),
  • University of Toronto Faculty of Education (Bachelor of Education), 
  • John XXIII Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, Maryknoll Seminary, Fordham, N.Y. (M.A. in Eastern Christian Theology)
  • Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario (Certificate in Teacher Librarianship), and
  • Saint Paul University, Ottawa (Licentiate in Sacred Theology, Eastern Christian Studies)  

Since 1975, Father Stephen has been a teacher, principal and consultant in the Catholic school systems of Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.  He was the Director of Religious Education Services for the Edmonton Catholic School District from 1999 to 2007. Most recently he completed two three-year terms as the Director of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. 

Over this same period, he has been active in parish ministry as a Ukrainian Catholic deacon, assistant priest and pastor in the eparchies of Toronto, New Westminster and Edmonton. Since September 2013, he has been serving the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton as Chancellor and Vicar General.  

 Father Stephen has led retreats, given talks and served on local and national committees in the areas of Catholic Education, Eastern Christian spirituality, ecumenism, the role of the laity, and youth ministry. He has been a lecturer at Concordia College, Edmonton, in the field of Religious Education. He has also lectured at Newman Theological College, Edmonton, in the areas of Religious Education and Eastern Christianity. Most recently he taught several courses at the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute

Father Stephen is married to Maria (née Jakimowicz). Together they have three children and six grandchildren.

Some other fun facts about Fr. Stephen:

He enjoys reading classic mysteries and thrillers, completing cryptic crosswords (his words) and Sudoku, playing folksy 60s/70s music on guitar, wine making (as a disciple of Christ should), and watching movies! He is also an avid fan of the Edmonton Eskimos (boo ya!).

I personally have heard Fr. Stephen speak and I have no doubt his keynote will intrigue, challenge, and inspire. Another great reason to register for Unity today! And while you’re at it, check out the updated Sessions page to educate yourselves on which session you’d like to attend when you’re at Unity.

God bless and tune in next time for another Spotlight!


Unity 2014 Song (AKA It’s FINALLY Finished!)

Most of you won’t know this, but quite a few months ago, I (Joyanne) was sitting alone on a Friday night, just relaxing after a regular week of work. Disney’s Frozen was all anyone talked about at this point, and I found myself humming the iconic Idina Menzel song, “Let It Go.” What surprised me, however, is that new lyrics were popping into my head, so I quickly jumped up and grabbed my notebook and a pen. The following is the result.


Joyanne 😀