Thursday, January 30, 2014

Judge Futey to speak at tonight’s meeting

The Honorable Bohdan A. Futey, a federal judge serving on senior status for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, will be the guest speaker at tonight’s meeting of Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida headed by Daria Tomashosky of North Port. Judge Futey, who earned his J.D. in 1968 at the Cleveland Marshall Law School, joined the court in 1987 after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan after serving as Chairman of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States from 1984-1987. He served until his term ended in 2002 when he assumed senior status.

    Dr. Futey’s presentation will be “Why Ukraine’s Constitution is in Danger.” The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center (known as the “Oseredok”), 4100 S.
Biscayne Drive, North Port. Everyone is welcome to attend what is sure to be a very informative evening in this critical period of Ukraine’s history.

    Dr. Futey’s presentation will be preceded by a brief business meeting which will include the customary financial and other reports. 

                                                            • • •

    The North Port Chapter 56 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America known as “Soyuz Ukrayinok” held its annual membership meeting and election of officers for 2014-2015 on Tuesday, Jan. 21 at the Oseredok. The meeting opened with a prayer, singing of UNWLA hymn, and a moment of silence for deceased members of Chapter 56. It was chaired by Neonillia Lechman with Lesya Popel
serving as secretary.

    Ann-Marie Susla of Englewood was unanimously re-elected president.

    Other officers and committee chairs elected and/ or re-elected are: vice president, Lidia Bilous; recording secretary, Roma Guran; correspondence secretary, Larissa Shpon; treasurer, Orysia Zinycz; financial secretary, Ulana Stadnyk; membership chair, Olya Hron; cultural affairs chair, Ulana Rondiak; public relations co-chairs, Neonillia Lechman and Vira Bodnaruk; press secretary, Lidiya Mychalowych; social welfare chair, Halya Lisnyczyj (committee members, Odarka Horbachevsky, Helen Indianu, and Anna Mariani-Kebus); art/ museum co-chairs, Tanya Silecky and Katya Steciuk; choir director, Lubow Ingram; archives chair, Roxolana Yarymovych; hospitality chair, Katya Posnachivsky and memberat-large, Oksana Lew.

    Branch honorary membership was bestowed on Slawa Maluk for her dedication and years of
service to Chapter 56.

    The members voted to donate $1,000 to the Ukrainian Museum in New York City, and $1,000 to the UNWLA monthly journal, Our Life, press fund.

    A guest, Alexander Terlecky of North Port, who recently returned from a visit to Ukraine and who also spent some time at the “EuroMaidan” in Kyiv, spoke of his experience and impressions of the Maidan protest movement in Kyiv, and other cities of Ukraine.

    The next monthly membership meeting will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4 at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish Hall, 1078 N. Biscayne Drive, North Port
                                                                                                       • • •

    The monthly membership meeting of Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans will take place at 3 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7 at the Oseredok.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at atanask@aol. com. 

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Unity Day — then and now

Ninety-five years ago, on Jan. 22, 1919, a new European nation, Ukrainian National Republic was created through the Act of Unification entered by two heretofore independent Ukrainian states — Ukrainian National Republic with Kyiv as its capital, and West Ukrainian National Republic with Lviv as its capital — both established at the end of World War I as the result of collapse of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires, respectively. The official announcement of the unification took place in Kyiv near the then-900-year old St. Sophia Cathedral. Many thousands of Kyiv residents as well as delegates of other regions of Ukraine and Ukrainian military units joyfully applauded the act.

    Sadly, the young Ukrainian nation was not destined to stay independent and united for a long time. Unable to defend itself against several aggressors, mainly the “White” Russian armies supported by Western powers who wanted to re-establish the czarist Russian empire, and the Red Army of the Russian communists,
the lands of Ukraine got divided among the four neighbors — Communist Russia which eventually took the name Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia. Ukrainians, who continued to struggle to regain the independence and unity, were subjected to various oppressive, often draconian, actions, including the genocidal, artificially created famine in 1932-1933 resulting in the loss of close to 10 million Ukrainian lives.

    Many Ukrainians were hoping, perhaps naively, that World War II, which resulted in millions of lost Ukrainian lives, both military and civilian, and the destruction of infrastructure, cities, towns and villages, would end
similarly to WWI — that is, with the collapse of both Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Russia. Unfortunately, only Germany was defeated. Stalin’s empire, with the help of its western wartime allies Great Britain and the United States, got even stronger and was able to continue to subjugate Ukraine, now united with a name of Ukrainian Soviet Social Republic, but not free nor independent.

    The centuries-old dream of patriotic Ukrainians became a reality in 1991 when the “Evil Empire,” the USSR, finally disintegrated, and the Ukrainian parliament (“Verkhovna Rada”) proclaimed Ukraine’s independence on Aug. 24, 1991, which was
confirmed by more than 90 percent of voters in the Dec. 1, 1991, national referendum.

    The neighbors of Ukraine, especially Poland, became some of Ukraine’s staunchest friends, but not the pseudo-democratic Russian Federation which, especially under President Vladimir Putin and his idea of “Russkyi Mir” (Russian World), assisted by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill, continues to create problems in Ukraine up to and including the suggestion, through covert agents and their Ukrainian collaborators, of breaking up Ukraine into at least two separate nations.

    The current massive demonstration
“EuroMaidan” in Kyiv of mostly young Ukrainians, including students and veterans from all regions of Ukraine, shows the world and President Putin that the act of unification of all Ukrainian lands into one sovereign, independent and democratic Ukraine proclaimed 95 years ago is a reality that is dear to all patriotic Ukrainians.

    The Southwest Florida Ukrainian American community will commemorate the 95th anniversary of the Act of Unification at 4 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center in North Port.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ukrainian ladies have been busy

      North Port Chapter 56 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, commonly known as “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (union of Ukrainian ladies), headed by Ann-Marie Susla of Englewood, held its traditional post-holiday get-together with spouses or significant others last week at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center. Members and their guests sat at tables decorated with Ukrainian Christmas attributes, including the “didukh” (a sheaf of different grains, symbolizing wealth — the Ukrainian take on a Christmas tree), and enjoyed delicacies prepared by the volunteer members. In addition to singing carols and “shchedivky” (popular holiday songs other than carols), the members were greeted by the male choir with traditional special holiday and new year’s greetings and well wishes.

    After the very successful get-together, groups of UNWLA members began their traditional home visits of local community members, singing carols and delivering traditional holiday and new year wishes. Our home was visited just as my wife Katrusia got in the car to go to an appointment with her ankle and foot
specialist. The carolers, without hesitation, sang the carols and delivered their greetings in our garage, for which we are very thankful.

    At 10 a.m. Tuesday, Chapter 56 will hold its annual general meeting at the Parish Center of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, 1078

N. Biscayne Drive, North Port. Larissa Shpon of Warm Mineral Springs, the chapter’s correspondence secretary, reminds members that the meeting will be conducted strictly according to the parliamentary procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order, and the UNWLA constitution. Additionally, she notes that membership dues must be paid this month.

                                                          • • •

    St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center (known as the “Oseredok”), having had a very successful traditional “Svyata Vecherya” (Holy Supper) on Jan. 6, will hold a dinner known as “Holodna Kutya” with a special program at 6 p.m. Saturday at the
Oseredok, following the Vespers at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Church, which will begin at 5 p.m. Tickets, at $15 per person, should be ordered from Halya Lisnyczyj at 941-429-2350 or Maria Nikitin at 941-423-1092. All are invited.

    Sunday will be the Feast of Theophany, in honor of Jesus Christ’s baptism by St. John the Baptizer in the River Jordan. The traditional blessings of the waters, in commemoration of this event, will be taking place at both Ukrainian churches after the conclusion of the Sunday divine liturgies.

    From the early years of Christianity, the water consecrated on the day of Epiphany, known as “Jordan Water,” was treated with great reverence and believed to have miraculous and healing powers by Ukrainians and followers of other churches of Eastern tradition. In Ukraine, the faithful would sprinkle the Jordan water on all their buildings and the entire property to chase away “evil forces.” This water is kept in homes for an entire year, until the following year’s blessing, and used to alleviate illnesses.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at 

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians

by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Locals get ‘EuroMaidan’ update

Parishioners and guests of the North Port’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, St. Mary’s, had a rare opportunity last Sunday to hear a first-hand report about the “EuroMaidan” in Kyiv, and to have their questions about it answered by someone who was there. EuroMaidan is the massive continuous demonstration at Kyiv’s central independence square, Maidan Nezalezhnosty, since Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych reneged on the often-repeated promise to align Ukraine with the European Union and, in the last minute, refused to sign the association agreement in November.

    The speaker was Petro Rondiak, one of the several very successful American-born businessmen in Ukraine who, with his wife Olya and
three children, came to visit his parents, Mrs. and Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.) of Osprey. Petro Rondiak, who moved around a lot as a child due to his father’s U.S. military career, after working at Raytheon, an aerospace systems supplier, went to Ukraine in 1995 with his wife to run the retail operations of a recently established Ford auto dealership. Eventually, the dealership added Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar and Porsche to the original Ford brand. Rondiak supports a local school for children with disabilities, the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, as well as the Lions and Rotary clubs of Kyiv.

    The presentation took place after Sunday’s divine liturgy (Mass) at the Parish Center. Rondiak, who himself had spent a lot of time in the Maidan, gave a firsthand description of his own experience as well as an overview of the “inside” of the EuroMaidan, and answered questions of the interested audience.

                                                  • • •

    Ukrainian Christians in Ukraine, Greek Catholics and Orthodox, and many outside of Ukraine, including here in North Port, celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7, and today, Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God, is the second day of the Christmas holiday.

    While Ukrainians have adapted many Christmas traditions from other countries, there are many ancient, strictly Ukrainian traditions which are growing in popularity after having been suppressed for decades by the atheist Communist regime. Some of these traditions are singing carols in public squares and going house to house; “vertep,” which is either a sculpture composition of the cave where Jesus was born, or a theatrical play; and “didukh,” a sheaf of different grains, symbolizing wealth, placed in
the corner of the living room, right under the icons and close to a loaf of bread. The didukh was the Ukrainian take on a Christmas tree, which was not common in Ukraine until relatively recently.

    “Svyata Vecherya,” Christmas Eve supper with 12 meatless dishes, and the tradition of sharing the meal with the less fortunate (“the more people you help to feel the joy of Jesus’ birth, the more joy will come back to you next year”) are the other two traditions now becoming more and more popular.

                                                                          • • •

    More about the year 2014: This year will give use five unique “supermoons,” an event when the moon is very close to Earth and appears on the horizon as a huge disk, even though the distance between Earth and the moon decreases only a bit.

    The next supermoons in 2014 — the first was on Jan. 1 — will be on Jan. 30, July 12, Aug. 10 (appearing larger than all the others) and Sept. 9.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at 

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
 by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year and ‘Veselykh Svyat !’

All is well; we are now in the year 2014. It is my and my wife Katrusia’s pleasure to be able to wish all our relatives, friends and neighbors good health and lots of luck, success in all endeavors and achievements of all goals, including traditional new year’s resolutions, in this new year of 2014, and beyond.

    In addition, my wife Katrusia and I want to wish all our relatives and all our Ukrainian friends “Veselykh Svyat” (happy holidays) of the Nativity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, which all Christian Ukrainians in Ukraine and many in the western world, including here in Southwest Florida, will be observing in accordance with the Julian calendar next week. The observance will commence Monday, Jan. 6, a strict fast day, with the traditional “Svyata Vecherya” (Holy Supper) consisting of 12 meatless dishes prepared from potatoes, flour, beans, cabbage, mushrooms, fish and fruits. The first dish is the traditional millennia-old “kutya,” consisting of wheat grains with poppy seeds and honey, often with crushed nuts and/or raisins.

    The 12 dishes are in honor of the 12 apostles, although some say that each dish is dedicated to each month of the year.

    The actual “Rizdvo” (Christmas) will be celebrated Tuesday, Jan. 7, to be followed by two more holidays: Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God on Jan. 8, and Saint Archdeacon Stephan on Jan. 9.

                                                    • • • 

What will 2014 be like?

    The world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start, in August 1914, of “the war to end all wars” — World War I.

    Ukrainians worldwide, and many non-Ukrainians, including Georgians, Russians and others, will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the national Ukrainian prophet, poet, artist and revolutionary Taras Shevchenko. According to official decree by the
government of Ukraine, nationwide celebrations will take place throughout the year 2014.

    There will be other, less-important commemorations, including many family observances, such as my own 70th anniversary of leaving my family, home and country on July 7, 1944, at the age of 16, ostensibly for a relatively short time. I never saw my father again, as he was deported to Siberia where he died, and was lucky to see my mother and my siblings (who were also deported with my father) 45 years later, after the collapse of the “evil empire.”

    This year, the month of August will have five Fridays, five Saturdays, and five Sundays. This phenomenon occurs only once every 823 years. I am told that the Chinese call it “pocketful of money.” Not being able to speak or understand Chinese, I have to believe it, albeit reluctantly.
                                                      • • •

    The traditional way to eat “Svyata Vecherya” and to perform certain rituals, some of which are remnants of the pre-Christian traditions of ancient Ukrainians, was and still is at home with family. Here in North Port, the Ukrainian American community started a new tradition to have the meal at a church or community hall, due to many elderly people who are unable to prepare the traditional dishes.

    The communal supper at St. Andrew’s Religious and Cultural Center will be served at 6 p.m. Monday, and at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church Parish Center, at 5 p.m. All are invited to both.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at 

by Atanas Kobryn