Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church

Aug 17th, 2018 | By | Category: This Is Your Church

When Fr. Maxym Lysack, parish priest of Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church in Ottawa’s Chinatown, was ordained in 1983, he could have been assigned to a church anywhere in his far-flung diocese. Instead, he found himself charged with the challenging task of starting a new mission parish right in his home town.

Together with a small handful of faithful, the newly ordained priest celebrated the mission’s first services at the Nepean Street apartment where he and his choir-director wife, Yvonne, had moved after their marriage only a month before. Thankfully for the young clergy couple, the new parish was able to find suitable rented worship space elsewhere after only a short time.

Fast-forward nearly twenty years. Financially ready, at last, to realize the dream of acquiring its own building, the growing community found itself searching without resolution for either land to build on or a building being sold by another parish. The answer to its needs was about to come from an unexpected source.

At about the same time, another local Orthodox parish was facing a struggle. Holy Trinity Bukowinian Orthodox Cathedral, Ottawa’s first Orthodox church, had been founded at the beginning of World War I by Ukrainian immigrants from the Bukovyna region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Coincidentally, Fr. Maxym’s maternal grandfather had been a member of the church’s first parish council. Sunday attendance at Holy Trinity was down to the mid-teens, and the Cathedral was pondering its future. After deliberation, the membership of Holy Trinity decided to offer its building, located at 721 Somerset Street West, and its neighbouring church hall to Christ the Saviour – as a giftand its remaining parishioners joined the incoming parish.

Since that time, Christ the Saviour has striven to continue the legacy of Ottawa’s oldest Orthodox parish while maintaining its own vibrant missionary spirit.

The years since the 2003 move to Somerset West have been filled with growth and renewal, and the once-small mission parish has become a thriving multicultural community that draws members from as far east as Cornwall and as far west as Perth. The church building and hall have both been extensively renovated, and the walls of the church have begun to be painted with traditional iconography; the next step will be to renew the massive dome atop the building. More significantly, the parish is now exploring the possibility of a building expansion project, since membership has more than doubled over the past 15 years. Christians of traditionally Orthodox ethnic backgrounds, many of them new immigrants, make up part of the new membership. Other newcomers, however, now representing some 40% of the parish, did not grow up in the Orthodox Church. These converts are drawn to the proclamation of an unchanging apostolic faith, the richness of Orthodox tradition, and the beauty of Orthodox worship. The parish endeavours to be particularly attentive to the needs of those making a spiritual journey to Orthodoxy: one of its most important ministries is the Catechumens’ and Seekers’ Class, which runs year-round after most Sunday services and is always ready to welcome enquirers who want to learn more about the Christian Gospel and the Orthodox Faith.

Other ministries of the church are flourishing as well. They include a Sunday School, Junior and Senior Youth Groups, a Women’s Group, a Prayer Chain, and the operation of a parish cemetery at 1890 Merivale Road. Fr. Maxym, who holds a doctorate in Orthodox Theology and is a professor at Saint Paul University, offers regular opportunities for adult Christian education and, of course, is available for spiritual direction and care. The church has a strong online presence, with sermons and talks by Fr. Maxym available on SoundCloud, YouTube, and Orthodox internet radio.
The accomplished church choir of some twenty voices sings year-round at services and offers a concert each summer; the ensemble has released two recordings of a cappella liturgical music representing a variety of Orthodox traditions. The ministries of the parish also extend outward: the church endeavours to show God’s love to the suffering and needy through financial, practical, and prayerful support of charitable and missionary work, both locally and around the world.

Weekly services at Christ the Saviour, which belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, typically include Vespers on Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Divine Liturgy on Sundays at 10 a.m. Additional services are celebrated during Great Lent and Holy Week and on feast days. The church worships mainly in English, but occasionally other languages as well. The parish is blessed to have Deacon Michael Laliberté assisting Fr. Maxym at services and also in many other ways.

During the month of September, there will be a particular focus at Christ the Saviour on outreach to visitors and newcomers, with guided tours of the church, a “newcomers’ table” at coffee hour, and an opportunity to visit the Catechumens’ and Seekers’ Class. Whether they are Orthodox Christians seeking a spiritual home, or enquirers of any (or no) spiritual background who are curious about the Christian faith or the Orthodox Church specifically, visitors to Christ the Saviour are sure to receive a warm welcome at any time.

For more information, visit or call (613) 723-7790.

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