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Bishop Joasaph’s work is in the kitchen as well as the church By Audrey Fox (The Vancouver Sun, June 15, 1974)

Rt.Rev. Bishop Joasaph is one of the strangest looking bakers in Vancouver. Few of his colleagues wear a silken skullcap, heavy maroon and black robes, a large gold cross and a terrycloth apron when they work.

But Bishop Joasaph (christened Stephen Antonyuk 75 years ago) bakes for the Russian Orthodox Church, 75 East Forty-third. As leader of the congregation, one of his many jobs is to prepare the church breads used to celebrate the Holy Eucharist during Sunday services.

In his 53 years as a clergyman in Siberia, China, Connecticut and Vancouver, Bishop Joasaph has had wide experience making the little biscuits of salt, yeast, flour and water. For the last seven years he has made the breads in his own kitchen, close to the church with its bright blue onion-domed top.

After gathering his ingredients and mixing the dough in a heavy-duty mixer, he uses a small utensil, similar to a doughnut cutter, to cut the bottom of the biscuit, then uses an even smaller one to cut out the top. Finally, with hand-carved wooden presses, he imprints designs on the top halves of each of the breads.

There are three designs used on the five loaves needed for each service. One represents the body of Jesus Christ, one the Virgin Mary and the third is in the form of a cross. Bishop Joasaph explained that five breads are used to symbolize the five loaves Jesus used to feed the multitudes.

During the Holy Eucharist, Bishop Joasaph cuts each of the breads in a different design, using special church knives for the job. For each cut made there is a special prayer. The first bread is cut in honor of Jesus Christ, the second for Mary, mother of Jesus, the third for saints, martyrs and all holy men, the fourth for Canada, Queen Elizabeth, the government, the armed forces and all Christians, and the fifth for people who have died.

“Every week I must make between 60 and 70 breads,” said Bishop Joasaph. “Five are used for the Holy Eucharist. For the others, I go to the church an hour before Mass to work on the breads. The people give the names of friends and relatives who have died or of people who are ill, and I pray for them with the breads”.

During the Last Supper, Christ said to His disciples: “Take eat. This is my body… This is my blood… This does in remembrance of me”. … It is one of the ironies of Christian history that the Eucharist, originally intended as a means of fostering unity of the Church, has been a source of disunity and contention. … Churches disagree on the mode of celebration, the sacramental presence, the effects of the Eucharist and the proper auspices under which it may be celebrated. The Christian churches agree, and agree to disagree, and the unity and disunity of the churches continue to be symbolized by the Eucharist, as they have been since the beginnings of Christianity.

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