Saturday, March 29, 2014

‘Oseredok’ is not a church

     St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center Inc., known to Ukrainian Americans as the “Oseredok” (the Ukrainian word “oseredok” translates as “center”) in North Port is a not-for-profit, nondenominational, non-political cultural and educational institution incorporated in the state of Florida. It was established by and for the Ukrainian American and Ukrainian Canadian residents of North Port and vicinity. The building and land is owned by the dues-paying members and cannot become property of an individual, a religious entity or political party.

    Several entities have their “home” at the Oseredok: Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, Milena Rudnycka Chapter 56 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, commonly referred to as “Soyuz
Ukraynok” (union of Ukrainian ladies), the Senator Paul Yuzyk Ukrainian Library (reportedly the largest Ukrainian library in the state), and St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Church. The Coordinating Committee of Ukrainian American Organizations of North Port and vicinity (“Hromadsyi Komitet”), and other clubs and organizations hold their meetings at the Oseredok. Cultural affairs, exhibits, parties, dances, weekly get- togethers of seniors, etc. are some of the activities there.

    St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Church was established in one
of the wings of the Oseredok’s structure to serve permanent and seasonal residents,who are of Ukrainian Greek Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox faiths. Visiting clergy of those denominations, with approvals of their respective bishops, conducted services on Sundays and holidays until the decision was made to form a parish and build the Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God (St. Mary’s) Ukrainian Catholic Church. Consequently, St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Church is now being used by the Ukrainian Orthodox, even though legally it can be used by Greek Catholics also.

    The existence of St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Church and the fact that it now serves only the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful leads some to assume that the Oseredok is a Ukrainian Orthodox institution, which is incorrect.

                                                           • • •

    The annual membership meeting of the Oseredok and election of officers took place March 19. The meeting was opened by Oseredok president, professor Victor Lisnyczyj of North Port, who, after brief introductory remarks and greetings, proceeded to present the report of activities during the past year. Other reports and discussion followed.

    The members re-elected professor Lisnyczyj to serve as president for another year. Also re-elected were vice president Daria Tomashosky, secretary Dr. Bohdan Bodnaruk, treasurer Maria Bojduj, membership chair Klara Szpiczka, property manager Eugene A. Tomashosky, cultural committee co-chairs professor Vira Bodnaruk and Halya Lisnyczyj, social service co-chairs Anastasia Fatenko and Maria Nikitin, and members-at-large Victor
Kapij, Orysia Swystun, Roman Swystun and Vladimier Szpiczka.

    Auditing Committee members Iwanna Holowaty, Doris Horbachevsky, Victor Kapij and Mykola Weremijenko were also re-elected.

    The traditional pre-Easter Bazaar will be held at St. Andrew’s from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 4. More details next week.

    One of the surprises of the meeting was the unanimous election of Maia Bojduj, longtime Oseredok treasurer, as honorary member
of the Oseredok. Congratulations, Mrs. Bojduj!

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

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Thursday, March 20, 2014

When and where WWII started

It is universally accepted that World War II began Sept. 1, 1939, with Hitler’s Wehrmacht attacking the Polish Republic (Rzeczpospolita Polska). However, the actual shooting war, with Hitler’s blessing, began nearly six months earlier when the modern, superbly equipped army of one of Hitler’s satellites, Hungary, attacked a newly established democratic state, Carpathian Ukraine, a Ukrainian land which after World War I became a part of Czechoslovakian Republic, often referred to as the most democratic state in Europe.

    Following the infamous Munich agreement, Czechoslovakia was forced to surrender to Germany the German-populated Sudetenland, which resulted in the hastening of the breakup of the heretofore one republic in three autonomous entities. Soon thereafter, the Germans occupied the territory, which they named “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia,” while the Slovaks (Oct. 6, 1938) and Ukrainians (Oct. 11, 1938) had formed autonomous states which eventually (March 14, 1938) became independent. Hitler had allowed “Independent” Slovakia to exist, but he long before had agreed to the occupation of Carpatho-Ukraine by the Hungarians.

    It is interesting to note the comparison of events in March 1938 and in March 2014, both involving Ukraine.

    Immediately upon the declaration of independence of Carpatho-Ukraine, the Hungarian government issued an ultimatum demanding that the government of Carpatho-Ukraine stop anti-Hungarian propaganda (no such
propaganda had been conducted), release Hungarian political prisoners (there were none) and arm the Hungarians residing in Carpatho-Ukraine. The first two demands were without basis in fact. When the third demand was rejected, the Hungarian army invaded. The defense of the newly proclaimed Ukrainian state depended on the 5,000 poorly armed members of the hastily formed Carpathian Sitch. Within days, the Hungarian army, assisted by well-trained and armed saboteurs sent ahead, had occupied most of the important strategic points in the state, in spite of the heroic efforts of the young and militarily inexperienced defenders, many of whom were killed in battles, and others taken prisoners (many summarily executed).

    Partisan battles continued until mid-April.

    From an international point of view, the Carpatho-Ukrainian-Hungarian battles were the first battles of WWII, for the Czechs surrendered their state to Hitler without firing a shot.

    The territory of the 1938-1939 Carpatho-Ukraine is now the “Zakarpatska” (Transcarpathian) oblast of Ukraine, which Ukrainians call “Sribna Zemlya” (silver land). It, together with the rest of Ukraine, is now defending itself against “modern-day Hitler”
Putin, who makes outlandish and withoutbasis-in-fact accusations of persecutions of the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine, and other anti-Ukrainian propaganda, in preparation for an attack on Ukraine.

                                                        • • •

    The solemn commemoration of the Taras Shevchenko bicentennial will be held at the ECOSOC Chamber of the Organization of United Nations in New York City on March 27. The elaborate program will include remarks from
U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, President of the U.N. 68th General Session H.E. John

W. Ashe, and other dignitaries.

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

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians

by Atanas Kobryn

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Shevchenko’s bicentennial commemorated

    The commemorative assembly honoring the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ukrainian artist, poet, revolutionary and national prophet Taras Shevchenko (March 9, 1814-March 10, 1861), sponsored by the Coordinating Committee of Ukrainian American organizations in North Port and vicinity, headed by Romana Guran of Venice, took place last Sunday at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center in North Port. The Jubilee Committee, responsible for the organization and production of this very successful affair, consisting of singing and recitations of Shevchenko’s poems, was headed by Halya Lisnyczyj of North Port.

    The festive commemoration began with the United Choir conducted by Lubow Ingram singing “The Zapovit” (“My Testament”), followed by welcoming and introductory remarks by Neonillia Lechman, mistress of ceremonies. As is the custom, attendees stood during the singing of this very personal Shevchenko poem, which was translated into more than 50 languages
(including English), which Ukrainians regard as one of their most sacred national treasures. Two very young piano players, sisters Ariana and Mia Allen, wearing beautiful national Ukrainian costumes, played “Dumy Moyi” (“My Meditations”) to the delight of the more than 150 attendees.

    Two songs by the choir of the local branch of “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (union of Ukrainian ladies), also directed by Lubow Ingram, sang two Shevchenko poems, followed by a group recitation of a lengthy poem, “Nevolnyk” (“Captive”) by Lieda Boyko, Julia Danylovych, Olya Hron, Bohdan Lechman, Halya Lisnyczyj, Ostap
Macilynsky and Lesya Popel.

    The United Choir’s song “Dumy Moyi” was followed by the recitation by Bohdan Bodnaruk and Halya Lisnyczyj of “Rozryta Mohyla” (“The Plundered Grave”). The final item was a song by the United Choir about the river Dnipro, followed by the Ukrainian national anthem, sung by all.

    The stage was tastefully decorated by Klara and Vladimier Szpiczka. The success of the affair was the result, to a large degree, of Daria Tomashosky’s advertising posters and leaflets. Lidia Bilous designed the artwork and printed the evening’s program.

    Attendees were able to
view a display of a large selection of publications of Shevchenko’s works, including some archival pieces.

    It should be noted that Shevchenko’s bicentennial is being commemorated worldwide, including at the United Nations, and in some countries on the national level. In the West Ukrainian city of Lviv last Sunday, some 2,500 students had formed a human chain from the “Ukrainian Bookstore” to the Shevchenko monument at the Prospect of Freedom. From the stage at the monument the students then read a selection of popular poems, then read Shevchenko’s “Zapovit” in 16 languages, including Armenian,
Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish, in addition to Ukrainian.

                                                             • • •

    The Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, headed by Commander Eugene A. Tomashosky held its March monthly membership meeting last Friday at the Military Heritage Museum at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda, which included viewing the exhibits and socializing with the museum’s staff and volunteers.

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

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Community activist, Nazi concentration camp survivor honored

 The children of Iwanna “Jean” Holowaty of Venice — an active member of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in North Port, past president of the North Port chapter of Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (“Soyuz Ukrayinok,” union of Ukrainian ladies), an active member of several other organizations and a Nazi concentration camp survivor
— arranged for a special celebration of her 90th birthday. The children, Christine Schlesinger and David Kotok, Marta and George Garcia, Alexandra and Kent Hildebrand, and George and Margie Holowaty, invited more than 100 friends of their mother to a dinner
March 1 at Boca Royale Golf & Country Club in Englewood.

    The invitation, made expressly for Jean by Lidia Bilous, was very specific: “Please help us honor our mother’s wishes that no gifts be part of His celebration. In their place, please consider a contribution in her honor to one of the charities listed.” There were two charities — the Ukrainian National
Women’s League of America (checks to be made payable to the UNWLA Scholarship Program) and the Ukrainian Catholic University (checks to be made payable to the Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation). My wife Katrusia, who is a member of the UNWLA, and I made a contribution in honor of Jean’s 90th birthday to the UNWLA Scholarship Program, and wish her many more years of good health and happiness and continuous productive community activities, which she enjoys very much.

    The delicious dinner, including dessert and wine, all expertly served by the friendly Boca
Royale staff, began with an invocation by the Rev. Dr. Severyn Kovalyshin, pastor of St. Mary’s Church, and continued with the traditional singing of “Mnohaya Leeta!” (many, many years), a slide presentation of the birthday girl’s life and her family, and the introduction of all members of her family — children and their spouses, grandchildren and their spouses, and great-grandchildren. It was a truly classy, wonderful, enjoyable and memorable affair.

                                                     • • •

    We are very proud of our youngest son, Maj. A. Ihor Kobryn, U.S. Army Reserve, a St. John University alumnus and a veteran of “Operation
Iraqi Freedom,” who recently received a master of science degree from New York University after completing his required studies while supporting his family and attending all scheduled USAR meetings.

    Congratulations and best wishes for continued success in all your endeavors, dear son!

                                                      • • •

    Sixty years ago, on March 4, 1954, while on active duty as a corporal with the 530th Military Intelligence Platoon of the 3rd U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, N.C., I was made a citizen of the United States of America. My naturalization certificate, after the swearing-in ceremony, was presented to me personally by Maj.
Gen. Joseph P. Cleland, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg post commander, in the Fort Bragg sports arena while the XVIII Airborne Corps orchestra played military and patriotic songs.

    There were more than two dozen individuals naturalized in that ceremony, mostly soldiers. The largest group was made up of soldiers born in Ukraine who arrived in the U.S. after World War II, who were in the country for only a short time. For example, I was inducted after being here only eight months.

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

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians

by Atanas Kobryn