St. Aidan’s Becomes a Community

2006 – 2008: The Parish Develops

In January of 2006, they were officially brought under the Omophorion of Archbishop Seraphim in the Orthodox Church of America – Canadian Archdiocese (OCA) and held their first official services for Theophany. In February of 2006, at a Divine Liturgy held in McPherson’s Funeral hall facilities, St. Aidan of Lindisfarne was officially chosen as their patron saint. In Nov. of that year, they formed a mission board. In January of 2007, they requested mission status from Archbishop Seraphim and the OCA, and in October of that year, they were assigned a mission priest-in-charge, Fr. Richard Rene. On May 3, 2008, Fr. Richard was assigned to be Rector, becoming the first full-time priest of St. Aidan.

With the support of Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of New Westminster, the parish was able to lease the historic Ukrainian Catholic Church building (Nativity of the Blessed Mother of God) built in 1952 on the busy intersection of 7th Ave. and 2nd St. S. from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of New Westminister. The Rene family moved into the manse next to the Church.

In August 2008, Fr. Richard served the first Great Vespers in our new church

and we held our first summer camp.

St. Aidan received their first official visit from their Archbishop Seraphim and Chancellor Archpriest Dennis Pihach on St. Aidan’s feast day (Aug.31).


Theophany – Blessing of the Waters at a nearby lake

Our new iconostasis, with icons painted by Fr. Vladimir.

Pascha – April 2009

2009 – 2012: St. Aidan’s first Rector, Fr. Richard, quickly began developing and establishing awareness of St. Aidan and the Orthodox Church in Cranbrook. He began doing Orthodox Studies, developing Catechumen classes, making podcasts, and publishing a weekly column in the local newspaper, as well as starting a Church website and a blog where he posted his sermons and articles. He also worked as a community service minister for the Salvation Army to subsidize the salary the new mission parish was able to provide. Fr. Richard’s wife, Presbytera Jaime is a music teacher, so the parish now had a choir for services. Because so many parish members came into Cranbrook from outlying areas, and because food is such a big part of Orthodox hospitality, we started potluck gatherings after Liturgies and Evening Vespers, even putting together a large recipe file for Fasting days. Several new families joined the St. Aidan community, and we had our first baptisms.

Sunday of Orthodoxy 2010

Baptism, July 2012

Fr. Richard also made periodic trips to visit and bless the homes of faithful St. Aidan parishioners, some as far away as Birchdale (across the lake from Kaslo). Fr. Richard served as Rector for 4 years until 2012. In May of 2012 Fr. Richard and Pres. Jaime and their 3 children moved to Chilliwack where he began his new position as an Orthodox prison chaplain. Since arriving there, he has started a successful Orthodox Prison ministry – St. Silas – which has grown to include various prison institutions and has baptized a number of inmates all across Canada. Fr. Richard and Pres. Jaime continue to reside in Chilliwack where he now serves as head of the federal prison chaplains for all of BC, and Pres. Jaimie continues to teach at TLA Online, a large independent school.

2013 – 2014: Between Rectors: Faithfully Gathering

Once the Resident Rector, Fr. Richard, and his family moved to the coast of BC., approximately once a month for the next year and ½, a visiting priest would come to serve, and Typika services were held each week between visits. Fr. Kaleeg Hainsworth was the mainstay, with the BC Dean, Archpriest Michael Fourik, the Alberta Dean, Archpriest Phillip Erikson, and the Canadian Chancellor, Archpriest Alexander Pihach also filling in. In September of 2013, St. Aidan’s was assigned a priest-in-charge, the newly ordained (March 2013) Father Andrew Applegate, who came with his wife Matushka Sonia, every 3 weeks to serve Great Vespers and Divine Liturgy from Calgary. Despite the distance members needed to travel, Typika services were held each week between visits. Archbishop Iréneé came in December 2014, and ordained Reader Paul Bartlett from Creston as a Subdeacon, and tonsured parish member David Pasivirta from Kimberley as a Reader. He also granted a Gramota to parish Matriarch, Ellen Dearden from Fort Steele.

In March of 2015, Fr. Andrew was installed as the Rector of St. Aidan. We continued the Orthodox tradition of blessing the waters of Joseph Creek begun by Fr. Richard during his time here. We were blessed with another Hierarchical visit when Archbishop Iréneé came and celebrated our Aug. 31 feast day with us. In Oct. 2015, one of our Birchdale, BC members Fr. Neil Nellis was ordained as Priest and founded St. John in the Wilderness Orthodox Sanctuary in the West Kootenays near Kaslo, BC.

We added deacon doors to our iconostasis, complete with two new hand-painted icons painted by Fr. Vladimir Lysak. After 28 round trips, in March of 2016, Fr. Andrew and Matushka Sonia moved from Calgary to Cranbrook.