Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Holodomor remembered

The Ukrainian American and Ukrainian Canadian communities, including residents of North Port and Southwest Florida, are united with Ukrainians in Ukraine and throughout the world in commemorating this month a tragic event of Ukraine’s history, the 1932-1933 Holodomor (death by hunger), costing some 10 million Ukrainian lives, and the beginning of the Revolution of Dignity in November 2013. The Revolution resulted in the February 2014 ouster of then pro-Russia and anti-Western president Yanukovych, unifying the Ukrainian nation for the first time. 

The commemorations included the unveiling and blessing of the National Holodomor Memorial in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, attended by both American and Ukrainian dignitaries, and representatives from every state, including a large contingent of North Port and Southwest Florida residents. Locally, this month’s membership meeting of UNWLA Branch 56, headed by Ann-Marie Susla of Englewood, included a special Holodomor program, and the Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida, headed by Daria Tomashosky of North Port, who together with her husband Eugene attended the Washington festivities, had a special program at its last meeting — a video and picture montage presentation of the Holodomor Monument Dedication in Washington by professor Victor Lisnyczyj of North Port. 

Prior to showing the video, Daria read a letter written by Tanya Petroff, daughter of Halya and Victor Lisnyczyj of North Port, which included the following: “… several thousands of Ukrainians dressed beautifully in Ukrainian embroidery and costumes gathered outside in the light rain, proudly waving Ukrainian flags while listening to speeches from several government officials, Holodomor survivors, Ukraine’s first lady, Maryna Poroshenko, and a video message from Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko. An emotional memorial service and an official blessing of the monument led by the patriarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic Churches of the USA and of Ukraine, followed the dedication ceremony.”
Tanya also wrote: “I feel so blessed to have been part of such a historic event in Ukrainian history. My grandparents were Holodomor survivors and I vividly remember their horrific stories of witnessing people dying in front of them.
I remember seeing the tears in their eyes when they retold their stories to my brother and me.” 

Special prayers (“Panakhydas”) for the Holodomor victims were held in the North Port Ukrainian churches and in many other cities, including the traditional service in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, attended by government officials and religious leaders of several denominations.
The commemorations of the Revolution of Dignity included wreath layings and special ceremonies with prayers at the memorials for the “Heavenly Hundred” — the more than 100 defenseless students and other volunteers killed during the Revolution by special presidential units of “Berkut” and hired snipers, and for the fallen heroes who now defend Ukraine from Putin’s Russia’s aggression. The commemoration in Kyiv was led by President Petro Poroshenko, while his wife Maryna attended and spoke at the Holodomor dedication in Washington.
My wife Katrusia and I wish our children, grandchildren, great-granddaughters, all other relatives and our friends and neighbors a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Day.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobry

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Veterans gather for annual lunch

The traditional Veterans Day luncheon of Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, held last Thursday at Heron Creek Golf & Country Club, was another successful affair. After attending the community Veterans Day ceremony at North Port’s Veterans Park on Nov. 11, as is the tradition of the post since its formation, the officers and members of the post and their families and guests gathered to enjoy a delicious buffet luncheon and to review their accomplishments. Welcoming words by Post Commander Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.), were followed by the posting of colors by the Post 40 Color Guard, playing/ singing the American and Ukrainian national anthems, and invocation by Post 40 chaplain the Rev. Roman Badiak, USMC, a Korean War veteran and pastor of Epiphany of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Petersburg. 

Col. Rondiak introduced several guests, including the UAV national officers, heads of the local Ukrainian American organizations, officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, members of the liaison team with the U.S. Central Command at MacDill U.S. Air Force Base in Tampa, and Do Pataki, president of the Kiwanis Club of North Port, who was accompanied by Kenneth Miller, past commandant of Marine Corps League Detachment 948.
Lunch was enjoyed by all after a brief “in memoriam” ceremony and blessing by the Rev. Badiak. 

UAV National Commander Ihor W. Hron, the keynote speaker, presented a concise history of the participation and role of both native Ukrainians and Ukrainian Americans, in the U.S. Armed Forces from the Civil War until this day, including the number of Congressional Medals of Honor recipients and recipients of other high military awards. 

He also spoke briefly about the recent dedication of the National Monument in South Bound Brook, N.J., to honor all Ukrainian American veterans of all branches of service and all wars.
NC Hron’s address was followed by greetings and brief remarks by Ukrainian Armed Forces Col. Serhii Samborskyi. 

Col. Rondiak, assisted by NC Hron, presented awards to past post commander Eugene A. Tomashosky and past post commander and UAV National Chaplain/ Service Officer Marian Bojsiuk. The successful friendly gathering concluded with closing remarks by Cl. Rondiak.
The Southwest Florida Ukrainian American community is keenly tuned in to the developments in Ukraine. It raises funds for humanitarian aid to orphaned children, families of soldiers killed in the war against Russian aggressors, wounded soldiers and refugees from Crimea and Donbas. Weekly prayers (rosary) for peace in Ukraine and blessings for the Ukrainian nation are held at 4:30 p.m. every Wednesday at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, 1078 N.Biscayne Drive, North Port. All are invited to join.
Several members of our community traveled to Washington, D.C., to witness the unveiling and dedication of the Ukrainian Holodomor Memorial on Nov. 7. A beautiful description of the unveiling and blessing was written by Tanya Petroff, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Lisnyczyj of North Port, about “a very special and emotional weekend in Washington.”

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

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians

by Atanas Kobryn

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thanks for your service, veterans

As has been the practice since the post was organized in the last decade of the previous century, Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans will participate in today’s Veterans Day commemoration, sponsored by the city of North Port and William A. Garvey VFW Post 8203, at 11 a.m. at Veterans Park, next to the North Port Library. Post commander retired Col. Roman Rondiak, USA, is calling on members of the local Ukrainian community to join the post members and other veterans and community organizations at the commemoration.

Because it is a Ukrainian tradition and also the commandment of the Christian faith to pray for the souls of the departed, Post 40 had sponsored and participated in “Panakhyda” (requiem service) for the repose of souls of all departed veterans last Sunday at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy (Mass) at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. Panakhyda was celebrated by the Rev. Vasyl Petriv, pastor.
Post members and the color guard were led by Commander Rondiak. The church choir sang the responses to Panakhyda, and then sang “God Bless America” at the end of the service.
Thursday, there will be the traditional Post 40 Veterans Day luncheon at noon at Heron Creek Golf & Country Club. Over 100 tickets were sold (none available at the door).

Several distinguished members of the North Port community, including Ukrainian clergy, will be attending. This year, however, neither politicians nor members of our city or county “power structure” will be attending. Three Ukrainian Armed Forces colonels, members of the liaison team with the U.S. Central Command at MacDill U.S. Air Force Base in Tampa, will be guests at the luncheon. It is hoped they will be able to brief us on the current military situation in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian American community of North Port and vicinity is invited to attend the 35th annual Ukrainian AutumnFest, which will be held at Epiphany of our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church at 434 90th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The festival will feature authentic Ukrainian food, which will also be available for take-out, Ukrainian beer, Ukrainian arts and crafts, children’s rides and games, polka lessons, and music for dancing on both days.
There will also be four performances (two each day) of Ukrainian dances by the popular Kalyna Ukrainian Dancers. An auction and raffle will be held Sunday. Admission is $3 for adults; children under 12 admitted free. Free parking onsite.
The calendar of parish events of North Port’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish announces a festive Thanksgiving dinner at noon Nov. 26 (tickets, at $15, must be purchased in advance), Parish Feast Dinner Dec. 6, and pre-Christmas Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 11.
The Most Rev. Bishop Bohdan Danylo, Ordinary of Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of St. Josaphat in Parma, Ohio, will visit the parish Dec. 12-13.

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians

by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Veterans meetings, ‘Soyuz Ukrayinok,’ commemorations

The monthly membership meeting of Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, headed by Commander Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.) of Osprey, will be at 3 p.m. Friday at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center, known as “the Oseredok.”

Commander Rondiak is asking all members to attend this meeting because the final decisions and arrangements will have to be made for the post’s participation in the community Veterans Day observance at 11 a.m.

Wednesday at Veterans Park (near the North Port Library), and the traditional Veterans Day Luncheon at noon Nov. 12 at Heron Creek Golf & Country Club.

There are very few tickets left for this buffet luncheon at $25 per person, and the final accounting will have to be made at this meeting.

Some Post 40 members will travel to Washington, D.C., to take part in the activities associated with the unveiling and formal dedication of the National Holodomor Memorial, located at North Capitol Street and Northwest Massachusetts Avenue.

The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Saturday. Other activities include a Holodomor Exhibit running through Nov. 14 at Union Station, commemorative concert at 2 p.m. Sunday at Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, and church services.


The local Branch 56 of “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (Union of Ukrainian Ladies), headed by Ann-Marie Susla of Englewood, held a very successful picnic last Thursday at Maxine Barritt Park in Venice, and a monthly membership meeting Tuesday at the Oseredok.

The meeting, after a brief business segment with the necessary reports of officers, including Yara Litosch, picnic committee chair, was dedicated to the commemoration of the 1932-1933 Holodomor in Ukraine, perpetrated by Stalin and his personal emissaries, as a result of which close to 10 million people died of starvation.

Past President Oksana Lew was the program coordinator, and professor Vira Bodnaruk delivered a brief but comprehensive and well-documented address about the subject.


The just released Netflix documentary film “Winter on Fire — Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” screened at last Wednesday’s meeting of the Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida, headed by Daria Tomashosky of North Port, at the Oseredok and brought tears to the eyes of many viewers who were impressed with the heroism of Ukrainian youth, including students, and horrified by the brutality, including killings of peaceful demonstrators, by security forces of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych.

The next monthly membership meeting of the club will take place at 6 p.m. Nov. 18, at the Oseredok, instead of the traditional last Wednesday of the month, because of Thanksgiving.
Nov. 1 is a special day for Ukrainians.

On Nov. 1, 1918, the independence of the once mighty Empire of Halych was restored as the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (ZUNR), thanks to the bloodless coup of Ukrainian officers of the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Unfortunately, a bloody war followed very soon after because the Poles, who were numerous in the capital city of L’viv, wanted the city and surrounding area to be part of Poland.

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and an acknowledged moral authority of Ukrainians regardless of their religious convictions, Metropolitan Archbishop Andrey Sheptytskyj, died Nov. 1, 1944, and a military hero and political leader, Col. Andrii Melnyk died Nov. 1, 1964.

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


Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn