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1891, 1934, 1945, 1952 Uryvky z The Canadian Encyclopedia (2)



The earliest Slovak immigrants to Canada initially established branches of Slovak-American fraternal societies. Thus, the first Slovak-Canadian fraternal-benefit society was Assembly 52 of the National Slovak Society, founded in 1891 in the coal-mining town of Ladysmith, British Columbia (on Vancouver Island). Before World War I, Slovak immigrants also established branches of the National Slovak Society, the First Catholic Slovak Union, and the Slovak Catholic Sokol in Lethbridge, Canmore, Blairmore, Coleman, and Frank in Alberta; in Fernie, Natal, Trail, and Corbin in British Columbia; and in Fort William, Ontario. After the war, these same societies established new branches in Timmins, Montreal, Toronto, Windsor, and elsewhere, but by this time they had to compete with the first Canadian branches of the First Catholic Slovak Ladies’ Union, the Slovak Evangelical Union, and the Slovak Workers’ Society, among others, in the major Canadian Slovak settlements. By 1934 over 100 branches of Slovak-American fraternal societies existed in Canada.

The post-war immigrants also helped to solve another problem that Slovak parishes faced – a shortage of clergy. The small Slovak-Canadian community had great difficulty in finding Slovak priests and pastors to staff its parishes. Until the 1950s, many of the clergy came from the larger Slovak community in the United States: Lutheran pastors largely from the conservative Missouri Synod, Catholic priests from the Slovak-American Benedictine Order in Cleveland or the Conventual Franciscans, while Greek Catholics relied upon Ukrainian priests to serve them. This was not an ideal situation, because many Canadian bishops resented the presence of American priests in their dioceses, especially those from religious orders who were not under their control. Therefore, the arrival of about a dozen refugee priests from Slovakia, along with the relocation of the Slovak Jesuit Order from Slovakia to Galt, Ontario, in 1952 (the Communists suppressed all religious orders in 1950), solved the problem of finding Slovak priests to staff Slovak parishes. There were now Slovak-Canadian priests in all of Canada’s Roman- and Greek-Catholic Slovak parishes, except for the Roman Catholic parish of Montreal, which continued to be served by the American-based Franciscans.

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