Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mnohaya Leeta,’ Father Vasyl

The new pastor of the Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God (St. Mary’s) Ukrainian Catholic Church in North Port, Vasyl Petriv, will observe his 52nd birthday on Saturday.

My wife Katrusia and I wish our pastor and spiritual father the best of everything, especially health, success in revitalizing our parish, numerous God’s graces, and “Mnohaya Leeta” (many, many years).
Unfortunately, the Rev. Vasyl will not be able to celebrate and really enjoy his birthday because his pastoral duties mandate that he officiates at the funeral service for a recently departed, longtime parishioner and active worker for our church, Ostap Dykyj. The services, commencing at Farley Funeral Home, and followed by the divine liturgy (Mass) and “panakhyda” (requiem service) at St. Mary’s Church, will end late in the afternoon with burial service at Venice Memorial Gardens, where the late Ostap’s wife, Anna, who died several years ago, is waiting for him to join her.
A group of parishioners headed by Olya Hron and Roxolana Yarymovych is planning to hold a reception in Father Vasyl’s honor this Sunday after the divine liturgy in the Parish Center located next to the church. The details are unavailable at the time of this writing.
All are invited to attend.
Traditionally in Ukraine, birthdays were not celebrated nor recognized. The Patron Saint’s Days were the occasions for celebration, well wishes and presentation of gifts at festive dinners, often including music and dancing.
I am mentioning this tradition, because on July 28, the Rt. Rev.
Mitrate Archpriest Wolodymyr Woloszczuk, pastor-emeritus, will observe his Patron Saint’s Day of St. Volodymyr of Kyiv, ruler of the mighty Kievan Rus’ Empire, who made Christianity a state religion in his empire 11 centuries ago.
Katrusia and I, as well as many other parishioners and friends of Rev. Woloszczuk, want to express our sincere best wishes and “Mnohaya Leeta!” Our best wishes also to all individuals named Volodymyr, Wolodymyr and Walter.
 Ukrainian American Veterans National Commander Ihor W. Hron, and UAV Post 40 Commander Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.), remind all veterans and interested non-veterans that the formal blessing and dedication of the UAV National Monument, honoring all members of the U.S.Armed Services at St.
Andrew’s Cemetery in South Bound Brook, N.J., will take place Oct. 3. It is necessary to make hotel reservations now, as well as travel arrangements.
The dedication of the memorial will be in conjunction with the 68th UAV National Convention, which will be held Oct. 1-3 in Somerset, N.J. The traditional convention banquet, with the introduction and installation of new UAV national officers will take place at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Somerset.
Banquet reservations must be submitted as soon as possible.
  Katrusia and I wish to welcome home our youngest son, Lt. Col.
Ihor Kobryn, who has been serving our country overseas over the past six weeks. We, his wife Angelita and 5-year-old son Bohdan are very happy with his return.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

St. Mary’s welcomes new pastor

Thanks to the eparch of the Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of St. Josaphat in Parma, Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo, the North Port and Southwest Florida Ukrainian Catholic congregation worshiping at the Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God (St. Mary’s) Church in North Port has a new pastor.

The Rev. Vasyl Petriv of Parma, Ohio, concelebrated last Sunday’s divine liturgy (Mass) with the Rt. Rev. Mitred Archpriest Wolodymyr Woloszczuk, pastor-emeritus, and later met with parishioners in the Parish Center next to the church.

 It was a pleasure to welcome Rev. Vasyl and his wife Lyubov (“Luba”) to North Port.

The Rev. Vasyl Petriv replaces the Rev. Dr. Severyn Kovalyshin, who was pastor of St. Mary’s for the past 13 years.

Parishioners and regular visitors are relieved, to say the least, and are ready and willing to give their new pastor their full cooperation and support.
Patriotic Ukrainians in Ukraine and in other countries, including Canada and the United States, will commemorate this month the 71st anniversary of “Battle of Brody,” a battle in Western Ukraine fought July 13-22, 1944, by the Ukrainian military unit Halychyna (Galician) Division in an attempt to stop the advance of the several-times-stronger Soviet Russian forces moving toward L’viv, the cultural capital of western Ukraine.

The Soviet forces eventually surrounded the Ukrainian unit. On July 21-22, some 3,000 survivors broke out and eventually regrouped, but the rest of the 11,000 members of the division were killed or taken prisoner. Many prisoners were summarily executed by SMERSH, the Soviet Army counterintelligence unit. The survivors were charged with treason, even if they were not Soviet citizens, and sentenced to 25 years of hard labor in the Gulag camps. Those who survived the 25-year sentence were not permitted to return to the areas of their birth or previous residence.

An unknown number of battle survivors had joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), where some attained high positions due to their superb training in the Halychyna Division.

One of them was my cousin Vasyl Kulyniak, UPA company commander “Dubovyi,” who died as a hero in a battle with a Soviet KGB unit in 1947.
 Having recently observed our 63rd wedding anniversary, I have to express my heartfelt thanks to my wife Katrusia for not only putting up with me all these years, but for being a faithful wife, dependable companion, excellent mother and housekeeper who had managed to raise four children with only token help from me, and supporter in all my endeavors. Without her support, understanding and encouragement, I am certain that I would not have been able to achieve all that I did.

She also managed to find time to work to help with our finances, and to be active in the community.

Our anniversary observance was not a celebration, but a lovely home affair with just the two of us.


With sadness in my heart I am sharing with our friends and neighbors the sad news of the unexpected departure from this valley of sorrows of our friend Martin (Marty) Murphy, past president of the North Port Kiwanis Club and a dedicated community activist. My wife Katrusia and I wish to convey our sincere expression of sympathy to his wife, Eileen.

May he rest in peace and his memory be eternal — “Veechnaya Pamyat”!

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


Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians

By Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ukrainian community thanks City Commission

     Roma Guran,  president of the  Coordinating Committee of Ukrainian American Clubs and Organizations of North Port and vicinity spoke on behalf of the entire local Ukrainian American  community when she thanked North Port Mayor Rhonda DiFranco and all the city commissioners  for their understanding  and support of the Ukrainian American community by issuing a proclamation designating  Monday, Aug. 24, 2015, as “Ukrainian Independence Day” in North Port.
      The ceremony took place during the City Commission’s special meeting July 2 in chambers  at North Port City Hall. The proclamation was read by North Port Vice Mayor Jacqueline Moore who, after reading  it, handed it to Mrs.
     Several representatives  of the Ukrainian American community clubs and organizations were in attendance, most of them wearing the traditional Ukrainian embroidered  attire. A group of members of North Port Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, including yours truly, led by Post Commander and UAV National Adjutant Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.), donned their summer uniforms, many proudly displaying their service ribbons. A special guest was UAV National Commander Ihor W. Hron of Osprey, Post 40 member and past post commander, who brought with him his wife Olya and two grandchildren, Adriana and Natalia Nichols, who wore traditional Ukrainian embroidered costumes.
      This year, Ukraine will observe its 24th anniversary  of the restoration of its independence.
On Aug. 24, 1991, the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of the Ukrainian Soviet Social Republic declared Ukraine to be free and independent, and the name of the state to be simply “Ukraine.” This act was eventually confirmed by nationwide referendum on Dec. 1, 1991, and approved by over 90 percent of voters. Even the regions with a large ethnic Russian population, like Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea, approved the independence with well over a 50 percent majority.
     Walter Shipka, 91, of Port Charlotte, one of the founders of the Ukrainian American Veterans, its second national commander (1949-1950), and active member of North Port Post 40, died June 28.
     Prior to moving to Southwest Florida, Walter resided in the Cleveland, Ohio, area, where he ran the very successful Shipka Travel Agency and was an active member of the Cleveland UAV Post 24.  His final resting place will be in a cemetery in the Cleveland area. Additional information about services is not currently available.
      My wife Katrusia and I express our sympathies for Walter’s widow, Helen, and other relatives.
     Tuesday was a religious  holiday, St. John the Baptizer’s birthday, which is observed in Ukraine with special ceremonies called “Ivana Kupala,” dating back to the pre-Christian period. One of the components of this tradition is the search for the elusive “flower of eternal life,” which blooms only that night. Other ceremonies involve bonfires and girls placing flower wreaths in the river.
     It is too bad that these traditional customs are less and less popular in this mass communication era.
     Personally, July 7 is a sad 71st anniversary of seeing my father, mother, siblings and other relatives and neighbors for the last time in my native village, Volya Yakubova (Jacob’s Freedom), in Ukraine.  My fate prevented me from seeing my relatives for nearly half a century, after the fall of the “evil empire.” In the meantime, my father perished in Stalin’s Gulags, and his resting place is known only to God.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at
Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn