More than 60,000 Ukrainians arrived in western Canada between 1891 and 1905. While gradually settling themselves in the new land, these early pioneers were disheartened at missing the liturgies and religious feast days they have fervently marked in their homeland. They wanted the sacraments of baptism and confirmation for their babies, while also recognizing a need for cemeteries in which to bury their dead, in consecrated ground and in common locations. Yet because few priests emigrated, religious life initially remained disorganized, with the immigrants relying on missionaries who might occasionally travel through their area. Later, the Ukrainian settlers were attracted to other denominations — including the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches — as those missions were established in the early years of the twentieth century.
In response to this situation, the hierarchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Galicia began sending members of its clergy to Canada. On November 1, 1902, Fr. Platonides Filas, OSBM (1864–1930), Fr. Sozont Dydyk, OSBM (1875–1950), Fr. Anton Strotsky, OSBM (1874–1950), and Bro. Yeremiya Yanishewsky, OSBM (b. 1878) — all members of the Basilian Order — arrived at the Strathcona immigration hall (in present-day Edmonton). To best serve the Ukrainian pioneers, each priest took responsibility for a district within the new mission: Fr. Filas went to Beaver Lake (southeast of present-day Mundare), Fr. Dydyk to Rabbit Hill (south of Edmonton), and Fr. Strotsky to Star (east of Edmonton). Before formal parishes could be established and churches built, the priests celebrated liturgies and performed the sacraments from the settlers’ homes, with people walking from miles around to attend. Although the Basilians drew together the Ukrainian community, the gatherings at these services were multi-ethnic, with immigrants from other nationalities also participating.