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Rev. John Sillak

Reverend John Sillak travelled extensively throughout Alberta and North America, serving the spiritual needs of various Estonian communities. Reverend John Sillak graduated from Seminary College in 1888 with a wealth of worldly knowledge and a sound understanding of philosophical discourse. He was a renowned linguist capable of speaking and writing in over 10 languages including Estonian, Latvian, German, English, Latin, Hebrew, Greek and Arabic, among others.

Reverend Sillak was born in 1864 in Dorpart, Estonia. He married Anna Loorberg when he was 25 years old. In 1891, he received an invitation from the Iowa Synod, a Lutheran Church, to serve as a Pastor and Missionary guiding American Estonians, Latvians and Russians. Before he began this assignment, he attented post-graduate studies at the Springfield Seminary of the Missouri Lutheran Church Synod. In the spring of 1901, he accepted an invitation to serve the needs of Lutheran's in western Canada. This position required extensive travelling throughout Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and the northern United States. Reverend Sillak frequently translated religious texts and wrote thousands of pages of philosophical discourse. He was very dedicated to his profession and made numerous solitary voyages to scattered Estonian settlements to perform religious ceremonies. He would provide sermons in Estonian, immediately followed by a German oration. He passed away in 1953 in Medicine Hat where a street had been named in his honour.

By all accounts, Reverend Sillak performed his missionary work humbly and professionally. He was patient, dignified and always willing to help. His dedication to his work as a religious preacher is reinforced by the sheer magnitude of his constituency. It stretched from as far north as Edmonton and as far south as Oregon. His fluency in many languages enabled him to translate the Lutheran Confessions into Estonian and Latvian. In recognition of his efforts, he received an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Canadian Lutheran College. He was elected Life Member to the Canadian Lutheran College on 1 June 1946.

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