Delaere, Achille

Delaere, Achille, b 17 April 1868 in Lendelede, Belgium, d 12 July 1939 in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Religious figure. Delaere, a Flemish Belgian, joined the Redemptorist Fathers in 1889 and was ordained in 1896. In preparation for missionary work in western Canada, he studied for about a year in the Galician town of Tuchów, where he learned Polish. He set off for Canada in 1899 and began working among a mix of Polish and other immigrants in the Shoal Lake region of Manitoba (although stationed further south at the Redemptorist mission in Brandon. At the recommendation of Rev. V. Zholdak, Lviv archbishop Andrei Sheptytsky’s secretary who had toured Canada in 1901–02 on a fact-finding mission, Delaere began to visit the Yorkton region of Saskatchewan on a routine basis to minister to the spiritual needs of the local immigrant Ukrainian population. In 1904 he moved to Yorkton permanently and applied to be accepted into the Eastern Catholic rite (his request was granted in 1906).

His pastoral work convinced Delaere of the need for a Ukrainian bishop in Canada. In 1908 he penned a ‘Memorandum on the Attempts of Schism and Heresy Among the Ruthenians (commonly called “Galicians”) in the Canadian Northwest,’ in which he pointed out the possible dangers of failing to address the spiritual needs of the Ukrainian settlers adequately. It was published in French in 1908 and in English in 1909. He followed this up in 1909 with a report on the ‘Ruthenian question’ prepared for the First Plenary Council of the Canadian Catholic church at the bidding of the Apostolic Delegate to Canada, S. Sbaretti. Finally, at the Vatican’s request, he met with Pope Pius X in May 1912 to discuss the matter of a Ukrainian bishop for Canada.

Delaere established a Ukrainian Redemptorist monastery in Yorkton in 1913 and, in co-operation with the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate and Brothers of the Christian Schools, directed religious, educational, and social work among Ukrainian Catholics in the Yorkton area for two decades. His missionary endeavors prompted Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky to found an Eastern-rite branch of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in Galicia (see Redemptorist Fathers).

Rev. É. Tremblay’s La père Delaere et l’Église ukrainienne du Canada appeared in 1961; a translation of Rev. J. de Vocht’s 1954 Flemish-language biography of Delaere, edited by P. Laverdure, appeared in 2005 as Father Achiel Delaere (1869–1939): The First Eastern Rite Redemptorist and Canada’s Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Andrij Makuch

[This article was updated in 2006.]

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