The Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. Anthony Petchersky was founded in 1937 on an acre of donated land in Brightstone. Using donated materials and volunteer labour, a small church, with a capacity for fifty people, was built. Reverend Hewko established the church, as a branch of Brightstone’s St. John the Baptist Parish, for the Ukrainian Catholic farm families of the district. The church was underutilized as many families attended other churches or didn’t attend church at all, resulting in various priests travelling in from Winnipeg to give services. Special celebrations were the only time the church was filled.
During the 1950s, Father Joseph Kamenecky came from Beausejour regularly. At the same time, many parishioners moved to Lac du Bonnet and attended the Notre Dame du Lac Roman Catholic Church. Father Kamenecky began conducting Ukrainian Catholic services at the larger Notre Dame.
By 1960, the new parish of St. Anthony Petchersky was founded, consisting of a new church executive and a ladies’ organization. A $1,000 donation facilitated the purchase of a 2 ¾ acre lot in the town of Lac du Bonnet, where the church was moved from Brightstone. The new site was consecrated August 1961.
The congregation of St. Anthony Petchersky parish remained small. By 1980, the twenty-five members were older people who understood Ukrainian. Some of the younger generation attended Notre Dame du Lac Roman Catholic services. Despite attempts to raise funds for the church, services were only held one Sunday a month. Funeral services were available upon request, with the occasional burial at the Brightstone cemetery.
The St. Anthony Petchersky church fell into disuse. By 1995, the building was purchased by an RM resident and moved to land northeast of Lac du Bonnet. Restorations have been on going.
Written by Jennifer Strassel