Bodnar: Father Donald Bodnar

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priest, Ukrainian Eparchy of Edmonton, Alberta.  Married.  Ordained 1988. 2009 charged with sex offences related to young girl.  Charges stayed.


Priest’s sex charges stayed by the Crown

Last Updated: September 29, 2009 2:49am


Criminal charges were stayed yesterday against a long-serving Edmonton-area reverend who was accused of sexual offences against a young girl.

On the day his trial was slated to begin in provincial court, the Crown stayed charges of sexual assault and sexual interference against Rev. Donald Orest Bodnar, 55.

No reason was given in court for the stay of proceedings, however a stay means the charges can be reactivated by police for up to a year.

Bodnar, a Ukrainian Catholic priest who was last serving in Athabasca, was charged in January and then placed on administrative leave by the church.

Bodnar has served as a deacon or pastor for four Ukrainian Catholic churches around Edmonton for 28 years.


Priest charged with sex offences

The Edmonton Sun

06 March 2009


EDMONTON — A long-serving Edmonton-area reverend has been charged with sexual offences against a young girl.

Rev. Don Bodnar, a 55-year-old Ukrainian Catholic priest currently serving in Athabasca, was charged with sexual assault and sexual interference – a charge laid when the case involves a person under 16 – and was suspended in January, according to Ukrainian Catholic Rev. William Hupalo.

“I was kind of sickened to the stomach when we heard about it … this is not good for us,” Hupalo said. “Why things like this happen blows my mind.”

The charges were not publicly released by the church, and just came to light.

A statement from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy given to CTV News said, “the current situation has nothing to do with the ministry.”

Bodnar has served as a deacon or pastor for four Ukrainian Catholic churches around Edmonton for 28 years.

“The eparchy does have a sexual abuse protocol, and the protocol was put into force at that time … part of that protocol asks the accused clergyman to take an administrative leave,” continued the statement.

Hupalo said he was never told to keep the charges secret. Now that the charges are public, though, he’s worried about the effect on the church as word spreads.

“People start gossiping – that’s the worst thing you can do,” he said. “Unless you have solid evidence, keep quiet.”

“I just pray and hope everything comes clean in the wash for everyone,” he said, noting the

charges are a matter for the courts.

Still, he thinks the church will be damaged by the charges.

“Certainly, when they see a church leader (allegedly) doing that, people will lose faith and walk away from the church,” Hupalo said.


Edmonton-area priest faces sex charges 

 CTV Edmonton (

 Updated: Fri Mar. 06 2009 12:51:39

A well-known Edmonton priest is facing charges of sexual assault and sexual interference.

Father Don Bodnar made a court appearance in late January and on Thursday, his church said as a result, Bodnar has been put on administrative leave.

 The charge of sexual interference is laid the victim is under the age of 14.

 The priest has been posted at churches in and around Edmonton for more than a quarter century and on Thursday, his diocese issued this statement to CTV about the charges filed in January.

 “There was an allegation put forward … the current situation has nothing to do with his ministry. The eparchy does have a sexual abuse protocol, and the protocol was put into force at that time….part of that protocol asks the accused clergyman to take an administrative leave.”

Bodnar has chosen to take a personal leave according to his archdiocese while he deals with the charges and allegations he currently faces.

 Alberta Justice has confirmed that Bodnar has a trial set for September 28th in Edmonton.

 CTV has learned that the charges of sexual assault and sexual interference allegedly took place last September in the Edmonton area.

With files from CTV’s David Ewasuk


Priest happy to be married

Newly-ordained Serbian immigrant settles into small town life

Week of February 12, 2001

WCR Staff Writer

Father Janko Herbut puts on a puzzled look and checks to see if his daughter Josephine, two, is alright after she sneezes for the third time. The toddler smiles and goes back to eating her breakfast.

It’s moments like these with his daughter which makes the priesthood more fulfilling for the 35-year-old immigrant from Serbia who was ordained for the Ukrainian Eparchy of Edmonton only three months ago.

“I always wanted to be a priest and I wanted to have a family. I didn’t have to wonder about being a priest and not being married.”

Like many of the young men who entered the seminary with him, Herbut knew he had the choice of whether to be a married priest.

Marriage is an issue Father Don Bodnar, vocations director for the eparchy, is often faced with when he speaks to youth about religious life.

“When I go talking to the youth, they say, ‘But what if I want to get married?'” Bodnar said. “That’s the advantage we have, we do have married priests.”

The number of seminarians studying for the eparchy is not overwhelming, but for an eparchy with nine churches in Edmonton and another two dozen throughout Alberta, having five seminarians is quite a feat.

“We go through spurts,” said Bodnar of the number of seminarians. “We have a good number now.”

Herbut added, “I don’t see any problems (in the number of priests). Right now, we have the eparchy covered, no problems.”

The eparchy has three seminarians studying in Ottawa, two on internship and a couple of men who are expressing interest. Seminarians for the eparchy study at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa. The university also houses the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Studies.

Bodnar said the eparchy is also looking into implementing a permanent diaconate.

Arriving in Canada five years ago, Herbut expressed immediate interest in the priesthood. Raised a Ukrainian Catholic in mostly Orthodox Serbia, he had already completed his theology studies in Croatia. Although it was customary to have married priests in his homeland, he knew it was not a tradition to ordain married men here. But that didn’t worry Herbut, who married his wife Ana after they arrived in Edmonton.

Herbut wasn’t worried about his prospects of being ordained. He was simply anxious because he had completed his studies. He was told to wait, learn the language and familiarize himself with the Canadian culture.

“I was waiting . . . and my friends said ‘Why don’t you just give up and do something else,'” Herbut said. “I didn’t give up. I knew it (ordination) was going to happen.”

Herbut was also comforted by the words of Bishop Lawrence Huculak, who said he was willing to ordain married men.

“I think he broke the ice when he ordained me,” said Herbut. “I was the first married (man) ordained by Bishop Huculak.”

Herbut spent his internship year working with Bodnar at Exaltation of the Holy Cross Parish in Edmonton. He was ordained a deacon in March 2000. In August he was assigned to Sts. Boris and Hlilb in Redwater when Father Bill Hupalo transferred to Calgary.

After his ordination in November, he remained in Redwater and travels to missions as far east as Smoky Lake almost everyday.

“I like this kind of farm town,” said Herbut when asked whether he preferred the rural or urban communities.

Redwater is much like the small farming community in Croatia where Herbut grew up. His family, brother, two sisters and their family still live there. It was a country where Herbut might be living in today if it were not for the cultural tensions that arose because he is of Serbian descent and his wife Bosnian.

As a youngster, Herbut was always connected to the Church, as a parishioner, then an altar boy. He studied the teachings and always had the priesthood in mind.

But living in a communist country, the ambition to study theology and become a priest was rarely respected. Herbut had his ups and downs when it came to his calling, but as he continued his studies, his doubts were put to rest.

Growing up in parishes with married priests, Herbut knew of no other type of clergymen. He recognizes there is some opposition within the Ukrainian Catholic community to married priests, but he has yet to see it in Redwater.

Previous pastors in Redwater and the surrounding area have been married, so the people are accustomed to it, Herbut said. However, the topic of marriage is a concern for him, not so much his own, but that of others.

“Mixed marriages,” he said when asked about what he saw as a challenge in his work. “It concerns me a little bit because people don’t take it so seriously. Working with people who are not serious about (marriage). People get married and divorced so quickly.”

Challenge or no challenge, Herbut looks forward to celebrating his first marriage ceremony this summer.

“People are very cooperative here,” he said. “We’re all very happy. “Being with the people, being around the people, that’s the best part of (priesthood).”

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