Play about priest who helped lepers
Submitted photo Rev. Edward Danylo Evanko, from Richmond, B.C., will be visiting Portage la Prairie to perform Damien on Sept. 13 at Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Assumption. (Submitted photo)
Portage la Prairie residents will have the opportunity to learn a little about the history of a priest who ministered to the lepers when the play Damien is performed at Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Assumption in September.
Rev. Edward Danylo Evanko, who is a Catholic priest, will be performing Damien on Sept. 13 at an event, which is open to the public.
"It’s a fantastic story," he said. “When I first started doing this play back in 2005, (Fr. Damien) was a blessed; he wasn’t yet a saint. Before I knew it, in 2009 he was canonized.”
Evanko was asked to go to Rome twice to present the play during the week of Fr. Damien’s canonization.
Originally from Winnipeg, Evanko currently lives in Richmond, B.C., where he serves at the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church of The Holy Dormition of the Mother of God.
Before becoming ordained as a Catholic priest in 2005, Evanko had a successful career as an actor for 40 some years.
"Damien is open to everyone who is interested in seeing a very good play about a very heroic character," he said.
The play Damien by Aldyth Morris is based upon the story of Fr. Damien — the story of a Catholic missionary priest, now a saint, who devoted his life to ministering to the lepers on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai.
Fr. Damien taught the lepers on the island many skills and restored their sense of dignity. He eventually died from leprosy himself in 1889.
Ben Lapchuk, with Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Assumption, is pleased to see Evanko coming to Portage la Prairie for the visit and is helping organize the event.
"We are fortunate to have someone who is really well known and who has proved himself throughout the world," he said.
The Annual Synod of Bishops is also taking place during the week, from Sept. 9 to 15 at Canad Inns in Portage, with up to 60 Ukrainian Catholic bishops from around the world in attendance.
"They will hold meetings at the Canad Inns to discuss the future of the Ukrainian Catholic Church," said Lapchuk.
The Synod is also being held in Winnipeg in September.
As part of the Portage Synod, Evanko will also perform his own play — Blessed Nykyta, bishop and martyr. This play will be performed in Ukrainian and will be presented on Sept. 12.
The play will also be performed in Ukrainian in Winnipeg on Sept. 11 at Sts. Volodymyr and Olga Cathedral.
Tickets for for the one-man play Damien in Portage are available at $15 for adults and $8 for students ages 17 and under at 204-857-5495 or 204-857- 5089. The show will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13 at the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Assumption (620-1st Street). There will also be refreshments available after the performance. Proceeds from the event will help cover some of the costs of the Synod of Ukrainian Catholic Bishops event in Portage.