A bicycle pilgrimage passed through Kamsack last week as Dr. Brian A Butcher, Sessional Instructor, Toronto School of Theology was travelling from Ottawa to Vancouver on his bicycle.
Fr. Warren Dungen, of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic District of Kamsack knew Subdeacon Dr. Butcher when he was in school.
“He was my professor for a few courses at St. Paul University in Ottawa. He was employed by MASI where he organized and cantored many liturgical services at MASI at SPU, prior to MASI relocating to St. Michael’s College at the Toronto School of Theology at the U of T. He was a cantor for weekly Vesper services (evening prayer) at the St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Shrine church in Ottawa,” said Fr. Warren. “I also taught the professor how to make wine, as we did a number of wine kits together at my Ottawa home”
Dr. Butcher left Ottawa on September 7 and arrived in Kamsack October 13 then departed Friday October 16.The purpose of the bicycle travel across the country is a personal “pilgrimage,” not a “tour,” explained Fr. Warren.
“Touring is to see sights, whereas a pilgrimage is a spiritual journey towards a relationship with God. I have heard a pilgrimage described, as where, “The pilgrim must embark on this journey with joyful anticipation, being willing temporarily to separate himself or herself from the world and to offer himself or herself in humble service to another. A successful pilgrimage involves a commitment to leave behind one’s problems and to focus instead on seeking to learn more about our heavenly Father, making one’s heart full of desire for special graces, praises, petitions and thanksgiving, returning home transformed, renewed and restored by the abundant blessings received.”
Subdeacon Butcher visited Kamsack as part of his cross country pilgrimage to stay with Fr. Warren and his family.
“It was on the current route he chose to see many of his friends along the way,” says Fr. Warren. “It was a place to come a pray with the community.”
Subdeacon Butcher was a speaker for the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon’s clergy on their Clergy Study Days on their professional development day (October 14), which he led via Zoom at the Ukrainian Catholic Hall. He was able to get a thorough “tune-up” completed on his bicycle and some warm socks/gloves at Sas-Kam Sportsman, thanks to the expertise of Wayne Sas and his staff.
There are a few challenges enroute that Fr Warren expects. Stopovers without connections will see him sleeping in a tent along the way. Although he is not far off his anticipated schedule of arriving in Vancouver the second week of November, he has run into a few delays, due to the severe head-winds in the prairies, which reduce his speed and distance achieved in a day. The weather has cooled off, affecting his ability to keep warm in his clothing and sleeping gear. He has had to shuffle his dates and planned stop locations to match delays.
Despite these challenges he expects a number of blessings including meeting amazing people, meeting and exceeding many personal and environmental challenges, praying along the way (privately, with those he stays with, and in churches) and ultimately, having an amazing experience of accomplishment (with the grace of God) to go as far as he can during a difficult time of year in the midst of a pandemic.