Summer getaways offer us a chance to relax and have fun. They can also be a time for spiritual rejuvenation. Ontario’s cottage country, with beautiful lakes, beaches and wilderness, offers an opportunity to marvel at God’s grandeur. In the Georgian Bay region vacationers can also be spiritually enriched at a number of historic and sacred sites.
Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church
This parish dates to the 1950s, when Ukrainians began building summer homes near Cawaja Beach. Liturgies were first served in the open air. Two philanthropists, M. Gerus and M. Dejnega, donated land for a church. The community raised funds, and a Hutsul-style church designed by Toronto architect Ihor Stecura was built. In 1989, Bishop Isidor Borecky officially blessed Sts. Volodymyr & Olha, at Cawaja Beach. The parish welcomes visitors to Sunday liturgies and fellowships afterwards. See: www.cawajachurch.com
Ste. Marie Among the Hurons
Not far from Cawaja Beach, in Midland, is Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons. This National Historic Site is a reconstruction of ¨Fort Ste. Marie,¨ a 17th-century French Jesuit Mission to the Huron people. The graves of Jesuit priest, St. Jean de Brébeuf, who wrote the popular Christmas hymn, a "Huron Carol" and fellow martyr, St. Gabriel Lalement are in the wooden church of St. Joseph at the site. This church was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1984. See: www.saintemarie amongthehurons.on.ca
Also in Midland, across the highway from Ste. Marie Among the Hurons, Martyrs' Shrine honours the eight Jesuit missionaries martyred during the Huron-Iroquois wars and later canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Collectively, these martyrs are Canada's Patron Saints. The Shrine, which includes a ceiling shaped like an overturned canoe, has daily masses and the relics of St. Jean de Brébeuf, St. Gabriel Lalemant, St. Charles Garnier, and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha for public veneration. It is a Canadian National Shrine. See: www.martyrsshrine.com