As envisioned by pioneers, the “Oseredok” became the center of the Ukrainian American community of Southwest Florida and it continues proudly in its role to this day. Many civic, cultural and entertainment activities have taken place there over the years, including fundraising bazaars, concerts of world-renowned performers, lectures and dances, just to mention some. As mentioned previously, Branch 56 of “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (Union of Ukrainian Ladies) and Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans have their offices and hold their meetings there. Other organizations, including the Coordinating Committee of the Ukrainian American Clubs and Organizations, currently headed by Roma Guran of Venice, hold their meetings there also. The leaders and members of the Oseredok felt very strongly that the North Port community needed a church, which historically is the mainstay of Ukrainian civic and spiritual life. The initial group of pioneers was not large enough to build two churches to accommodate the two major groups of the faithful, Greek Catholics and Orthodox. It was decided to build one church as part of the Oseredok’s complex at 4100 S.
Biscayne Drive, named St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Church, to serve both Greek Catholics and Orthodox. The historic idea was blessed by two metropolitans, Mstyslav Skrypnyk of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Myroslav Lubachivsky of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox priests did the actual blessing of the building, and served the liturgies and “molebens” (special prayer services) for a long time.
Due to an influx of more permanent settlers in our area, the church building became too small to adequately accommodate the worshipers, and in the early 1990s, the Ukrainian Greek Catholics built their own church at the corner of Biscayne Drive and West Price Boulevard.
The first presidents of the executive board of St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center was Volodymyr Riznyk, retired entrepreneur from New York state, who resided with his wife Paulina in the Warm Mineral Springs community.
Canadian Senator Paul Yuzyk, who visited Warm Mineral Springs Day Spa quite frequently due to his wife Maria’s ailments, was elected the Oseredok’s vice president and public relations officer. It should be noted that Riznyk and Yuzyk were natives of the United States and Canada, respectively; neither ever visited their ancestral country of Ukraine, and both were active in the Ukrainian American and Ukrainian Canadian communities’ organizations throughout their lives.
Riznyk was succeeded by Roman Shramenko of Venice, and Shramenko, by Dr. Wolodymyr Korol of Warm Mineral Springs. The current president is professor Victor Lisnyczyj of North Port.
To commemorate the 24th anniversary of the restoration of Ukraine’s independence (Aug. 24, 1991), molebens services will take place at both St.
Andrew’s and St. Mary’s churches after the divine liturgies on Aug. 23.
At 8 a.m. Aug. 24 at City Hall, there will be the raising of the American and Ukrainian national flags by our veterans and a reading of the proclamation honoring Ukraine’s independence by the mayor of North Port. All (except the veterans) are asked to come wearing their traditional embroidered shirts and blouses.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn