Fr. John Sembrat was born in 1943, Peckville, Pennsylvania, son of Joseph Sembrat and Olga Wysochansky. At the age of 16, he entered the Basilian Fathers Noviciate in Glen Cove, New York. A few years later he came to Canada to complete his high school studies at the Basilian Monastery in Mundare, AB. From 1965-1972, he studied and completed his philosophical and theological training at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa, Ontario. His thesis statement for his Masters in Theology was on “The Correlation of The Spiritual and Artistic Growth of Ludwig von Beethoven.”
He was ordained shortly thereafter to the priesthood in June 1972 in Olyphant, Penn by his Excellency Bishop John Stock of Philadelphia.
From 1972-83, Fr. Sembrat was stationed at St. George’s UGCC Parish, NY, as well as serving as time as the Prefect of Students at the Basilian Novitiate in Glen Cove, NY (80-83).
In 1983, he was transfered to Vancouver, B.C to the Protection of the Mother of God Parish as assistant pastor and then to St. Basil the Great, Edmonton, AB in 1984. Since then he has served in various parishes throughout central Alberta and is currently serving as pastor in Vegreville, AB. Fr. Sembrat began work on his composition shortly after being being transferred to the Basilian House of Studies in Edmonton, Alberta in 1999.
His first formal courses were taken in the summer of 1966 at Don Bosco College, Newton, N.J. Between 1969 and 1976 he partook in studies at Manhattanville College, Purchase, N.Y., the New School for Social Research, N.Y.C. and at the New York University in Manhattan
From 1975-1978, he privately studied tonal counterpoint and fugue under the guidance of the American composer, Frank Wigglesworth. He also had the pleasure of instruction from eminent Ukrainian musicologist and composer, Dr. Ihor Sonevytsky between 1972-1980. Fr. John recognizes this prolonged tuition under both Dr. Sonevytsky and Mr. Wigglesworth, as the most profoundly beneficial and lasting influence on his art.