It looks like you are viewing this on a mobile device. Would you like to use the mobile version? No thanks.
It looks like your device can support the full version of the site. Would you like to view that instead? No thanks.
Archimandrite Alexander Dennis Pihach
June 27, 1952 - October 8, 2016
It is with great sadness that we announce that our beloved brother, dearest uncle and friend, Archimandrite Alexander passed away in Toronto.
Born Dennis Alexander Pihach, he was the eldest son of Elizabeth and Alexander Pihach, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Following in the footsteps of his priest/great-grandfather who had served in many pioneer communities, Father Alexander studied Orthodox theology and graduated from St. Andrew’s College in Winnipeg, MB in 1973. He then returned to Saskatoon to study sociology and Slavic studies at the University of Saskatchewan, earning his Bachelor of Arts. His strong desire to serve others led him to employment with Youth Addictions Services in Saskatoon and then at the White Spruce Youth Addictions Centre near Yorkton, while making the Orthodox faith his whole life.
In his early youth, he served Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral and later Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, Saskatoon as an ordained Reader, whose deep melodic bass was unforgettable! In 1986, he was ordained to the deaconate and then to the priesthood by the Archdiocese of Canada, Orthodox Church of America.
His first parish was a small mission in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, which under Father Alexander’s guidance, grew to be a flagship parish, a nucleus of health for small Orthodox communities in the area that were on the verge of extinction. His talents bore much fruit. 1996 was a memorable year as he was elected Dean of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Deanery (OCA) and then became Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Canada.
While carrying the heavy load of church administration, Father Alexander was assigned to be Rector of the St. Herman of Alaska Sobor in Edmonton, Alberta, one of the largest western Canadian parishes in the Archdiocese. He was also responsible for a number of rural parishes in the Smoky Lake region, an area rich in pioneer Orthodox history and culture north-east of Edmonton. While serving in Edmonton, Father Alexander’s gift for including others in God’s service was a sight to behold on a Sunday, as a score of people, from readers, altar-boys, music reproducers, the choir, coffee-makers, servers and cleaners worked together seamlessly to have a wonderful liturgy with warm hospitality afterwards in the downstairs hall. Everything was worshipful, personable and done to the highest standards.
Father Alexander was a mix of deep devotion and earthy humour. He knew everyone by name and had the gift of relating. Pensioners in all places – Yorkton, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Smoky Lake delighted in him and youth found him “with it”. He was well-grounded in the Ukrainian language and loved his inherited Ukrainian traditions while living the broadness of Orthodoxy that goes far beyond linguistics and culture. In his family, “Uncle Dennis” was the greatest and dearest uncle, who always made time for family, regardless of where he was in the world.
On July 11, 2009, he was tonsured to monastic orders and raised to the rank of Igumen of Saint Elias Skete, Dickie Bush, Alberta, once the site of a monastic community. He joked that the name “Dickie Bush” meant “Wild Bush,” quite suitable for him, a prairie monastic. On September 1 of the same years, he was appointed Interim Dean of the Annunciation Cathedral in Ottawa, becoming an Archimandrite and serving as its rector part-time. In May 2011 he returned to St. Herman’s, Edmonton where he continued to serve, but in less than a year, he was called to other duties. On November 14, 2012, the Holy Synod of Bishops appointed Archimandrite Alexander as Dean of the Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr, Moscow and the Representative of the Orthodox Church in America to the Moscow Patriarchate. Archimandrite Alexander remained in this position until his repose.
It is impossible to count the number of church services that Father Alexander served, the number of kilometers that he travelled on behalf of the church and the time spent in administrative meetings. He lived as a good soldier and ascetic in the service of the holy, catholic and apostolic church. He believed in community and gave himself to it fully, wherever he was. He could be equally a breath of fresh air and a stabilizing pillar. He felt just as much at home in St. Basil’s Orthodox Church, Gorlitz, SK as he was in the grand St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow. He was as comfortable with hierarchs and respected church dignitaries as he was discussing farm crops at St. Julien, the Pihachs’ pioneer community east of Saskatoon. Without exception, as someone with prairie roots, his hand was always on the plough.
Father Alexander leaves to mourn his two brothers, Terry and Murray Pihach of Saskatoon; his nieces, Andria (Mike), Chantelle (John) and Genna-Rae; his nephews, Bryan (Megan) and Jesse; and great-nephews and great-nieces, Anthony, Navy, Copper, Indie, Story, Jayce and Jetson; numerous relatives in the Alvena, Smuts, St. Julien and Saskatoon areas; and an entire Archdiocese.
He was predeceased by his parents, Alexander and Elizabeth (Korpan) Pihach; his maternal grandparents, Nicolas and Nellie (Bayda) Korpan; and his paternal grandparents, cantor Mikhailo and Anne (Michayliuk) Pihach.
Funeral services will be held at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, 123 Nelson Road, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Monday, October 17, 2016 at 7:00 pm and Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 10:00 am. Interment will follow in the Woodlawn Cemetery.
Memorial donations to the Canadian Registered Charity, NASHI, which supports at-risk young girls in Ukraine and operates a Safe House for them, are gratefully accepted. These donations will be used to build a library within the Maple Leaf Safe House and provide post-secondary educational funding in Father Alexander’s name. NASHI, 535 - 8th Street East, Saskatoon, SK, S7H 0P9. More info. at www.nashi.ca
To share condolences and memories, visit www.parkfuneral.ca “Obituaries”. Arrangements entrusted to James Werezak, Park Funeral Chapel, 306-244-2103.