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

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