Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Part of North Port history for 20 years

One of the first contacts made after my wife, Katrusia, and I arrived in North Port in 1995, in addition to our church, was the Kiwanis Club of North Port. Having been a member of the Kiwanis clubs since 1968 — Kiwanis Club of Buffalo, N.Y.; Kiwanis Club of Staten Island, N.Y. (also serving as president), and Mid-Island Staten Island Kiwanis Club (serving as charter secretary) — it was only natural for me to become a member of the oldest Kiwanis Club in North Port. During one of the luncheon meetings in May, 1996, Club past president Marshall Grove, then North Port Sun editor, after learning that I was from Ukraine, asked me if I could write a column or two for the Sun about the large number of Ukrainians in North Port and vicinity, about whom little was known. Not having a good excuse why I could not do it, I agreed and wrote a column describing some aspects of Ukraine and Ukrainians, touching upon customs, religious confessions, etc.
The column was published the first Wednesday in June, 1996.
According to Marshall Grove he got many telephone calls approving of the column and requesting more information. Even though I agreed originally to write only one or two columns, I could not say no to writing “a few more.” The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
In addition to providing the North Port area some basic information about people who call themselves Ukrainians, their country of origin, arrival in America, where in their religious and cultural centers are and more, the column recorded the activities and events in the local Ukrainian American community.
These included advance notice of commemoration of historic events, such as Ukraine’s Independence, the Chernobyl Disaster and Holodomor (Murder by Hunger), dinner/ dances, concerts and other events.
Some events were similar to those in other Ukrainian American communities, but there were exceptions.
There was a visit in February, 1998, of the Honorable Hennadiy Udovenko, president of 52nd Session of the United Nations, and minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
In March, 1998 there was a visit of Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Yuri Shcherbak.
Both visits were duly reported in the column.
There were other visits of Ukrainian VIP’s, such as world-renowned composer Myroslav Skoryk, rector of Ukrainian Catholic University in L’viv (the only Catholic university in the territory of the former Soviet Union); the Rev. Dr. Borys Gudziak, and many lesser officials, correspondents and artists.
A historic event took place Nov. 1, 1998, at the Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God (St.Mary’s) Ukrainian Catholic Church.
It was the first time that four married deacons were ordained to be Catholic priests on the North American continent. The Ukrainian churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, follow the Eastern tradition of ordaining married men to be priests (men have to be married before the ordination. Once ordained, a single priest cannot marry, nor the widowed priest remarry). In 1929, at the request of the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States, who claimed married clergy of the Eastern Catholic Churches have a “demoralizing influence” on the celibate Roman Catholic clergy, the Vatican forbade ordination and deployment of already functioning married Ukrainian clergy in the western hemisphere.
Nov. 1, 1998, began the new era.

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn (

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Father’s Day: Father always remembered

This Sunday our country, and many other countries, will observe the traditional Father’s Day. It is only proper to wish all fathers, godfathers and fathers-to-be “Happy Father’s Day!”
While I will certainly do my best to enjoy the day, my feelings will be overshadowed by memories of my father whom I saw for a few hours for the last time while I was a 16-year-old lad.
While attending high school in the not-too-distant city of Drohobych, I did not visit my parents and my siblings very frequently, and after visiting them July 7, 1944, I had no idea that that visit was to be the last one with my father.
The war was on, the Soviet Russian army was advancing, Nazi German forces were retreating, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was fighting both invaders, Russian Communists and German Nazis, and the people in the countryside, without access to media, wanted to believe that the war would soon be over, and both tyrannical dictatorships would collapse. Considering all this, my absence following departure from my parental home on that July 7, 1944, was to be of several weeks, maybe months, duration.
As it turned out, I was soon separated from my family, and for many years did not know anything about them, and vice-versa.
Many years later, I found out that, on Stalin’s orders, my parents, my younger brother and my two sisters — one only 9 years old, were deported from Ukraine to the Ural Mountains area in northern Russia, together with other relatives and hundreds of thousands of other Ukrainians. My father, in poor health since the lost War of Ukrainian Liberation following World War I, with no medical help during the trip to the Urals, died a month after arrival there. His remains were taken by the local authorities and disposed of without telling my bereaved mother where and how.
With God’s help, and I believe as a result of my mother’s prayers, I managed to survive the adversities of being an unwanted lost youth in foreign lands in Europe, and after eventually arriving in the United States, to establish a family, obtain an education and feel at home.
In memory of my father, who always emphasized the value of education, I dedicated my Niagara University master of arts dissertation to the memory of my father, “Whose Resting Place is Known Only to God.”
I will say a prayer and light a candle in his memory, and in memory of my late father-in-law, this coming Sunday.
The Ukrainian American Catholic community of North Port and vicinity, led by the Rev. Vasyl Petriv, pastor, and many friends of the community, gathered Sunday at the Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center in North Port to honor a popular retired pastor, the Rt. Rev. Mitrat Archpriest Wolodymyr Woloszczuk, on his 90th birthday and 35th year of priestly service.
Rev. Woloszczuk was presented a certificate of appreciation for his service from His Holiness Patriarch Svyatoslaw (Shevchuk) of Kyiv, Bishop Bohdan (Danylo) of Parma, Ohio, and a plaque by Col. Roman Rondiak, commander of Post No. 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans.
Greetings were delivered by Roman Radzykewycz, Ann-Marie Susla on behalf of “Soyuz Ukrayinok,” Zina Ferenc on behalf of Sisterhood, and Daria Tomashosky delivered greetings from the mayor of North Port.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Honoring popular retired pastor

The Ret. Rev. Mitred Archpriest Wolodymyr Woloszczuk, of Venice, pastor-emeritus of Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God (St. Mary’s) Ukrainian Catholic Church in North Port will be 90 years young on Monday, June 13. There will be a festive reception at noon, Sunday, June 12, at the Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center, 1178 N. Biscayne Dr. (corner of W. Price Blvd.) in honor of Rev. Woloszczuk’s 90th birthday and 35 years of priestly service.
Rev. Woloszczuk and his wife Maria moved to Venice in 1994 after serving as pastor of Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Church in Akron, Ohio.
He concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. Mary’s with Rev. Mitred Archpriest Dr. Ivan Tylawskyj, pastor of St. Mary’s, until Rev. Tylawskyj’s retirement due to his advancing age and failing health in 1998. Rev. Woloszczuk was assigned pastor by Bishop Robert M. Moskal, Ordinary of Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of St. Josaphat in Parma.
Being a member of the Ukrainian Catholic community in North Port, Rev. Woloszczuk was familiar with the needs of the parish. Under his guidance and leadership, supported by generous financial contributions of the parishioners, the painting of beautiful murals and icons by artist Ivan Denysenko, begun by his predecessor was completed. He arranged for various repairs and upgrades of the church properties, and he wrote and published a hard cover bilingual missal with daily, Sunday and Holy Day prayers and services. For his contributions to the parish, Bishop Robert Moskal conferred on him the title of Mitred Archpriest.
After his wife Maria’s death on Oct. 24, 2012, and in view of his age and declining health, Rev. Woloszczuk asked Bishop Robert Moskal to relieve him of active pastoral duties. In a letter dated Feb. 17, 2003, Bishop Moskal accepted his resignation.
Rev. Woloszczuk, using a walker, continues to attend many religious and civic affairs in our community, and continues to concelebrate the Divine Liturgies almost every Sunday. his health permitting, with Rev. Vasyl Petriv, current pastor.
Grateful parishioners and other members of the Ukrainian American community in North Port and vicinity will gather this Sunday. at the Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center to honor Rev. Woloszczuk, to thank him for his services and spiritual guidance and to sing him the traditional Ukrainian “Mnohaya Leeta!” (many-may years).

The local Branch #56 of the “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (Union of Ukrainian Ladies) headed by Ann-Marie Susla, of Englewood, held its monthly meeting yesterday at the Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center. Officers and members wished each other healthy and safe vacations. There will be no membership meetings in July and August.

Monthly membership meeting of Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post #40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, headed by Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.), will take place at 1:00 p.m., Friday, June 10, at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center in North Port. This will be the last meeting of the season: there will be no meetings in July and August.


Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Memorial Day honored at program

The 26th annual Memorial Day Program at Venice Memorial Gardens on Friday was a solemn and moving one.
Marjorie Dellecker of Venice Memorial Gardens did a superb job of organizing and running the affair. I felt honored and pleased to be able to represent at the program, as past national commander, the Ukrainian American Veterans, Inc. and North Port Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post No. 40 of the UAV as its organizer and first post commander.
On Sunday May 29, Post No. 40 sponsored the traditional Panakhyda (requiem service) for the repose of souls of all departed veterans celebrated by Rev.Vasyl Petriv, pastor of Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God (St. Mary’s) Ukrainian Catholic Church in North Port after the regular Sunday’s Mass.
Members of Post No. 40 and color guard led by UAV National Commander Ihor W. Hron formed a honor guard and rendered a hand salute during the singing of “Khrystos Voskres” (“Christ is Risen” – sang during the post-Easter season in lieu of“Eternal Memory.”) The church choir sang the responses and concluded with the singing of“God Bless America” with members of congregation joining in.
The Memorial Day observance Monday at Veterans Park in North Port, sponsored by American Legion Post 254, included a contingent of UAV Post 40 Members, led by UAV National Commander Ihor W. Hron, and members of the local Ukrainian American community participating with the post’s color guard.
Post No. 40’s wreath was presented by Hron and yours truly.

The Post No. 40 monthly membership meeting will take place at 1 p.m. Friday, June 10, at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center. A luncheon will be served after the meeting, the last meeting for the season.There will be no meetings in July and August.
The North Port Milena Rudnycka Branch No. 56 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, popularly known as Soyuz Ukrayinok (Union of Ukrainian Ladies) headed by Ann-Marie Susla of Englewood will hold its monthly membership meeting at 10 a.m., Tuesday, June 7, at the Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center, 1078 N. Biscayne Drive, North Port.

Last month was a month of joy and a month of sadness. Ukrainians all over the world were overjoyed by the Ukrainian singer Jamala, of ethnic Tatar minority, winning the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest held in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.
Jamala dedicated her song “1944” about the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars during World War II by Soviet troops ordered by Stalin to her great-grandmother Nazylkhan who was deported with her five children to Central Asia along with the entire Crimean Tatar people – the peninsula’s indigenous, predominantly Muslim, population.
Another happy local occasion was an exhibit at the Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center of icons hand embroidered by the late Rev. Dmytro Blazejowskyj, who was a pastor of several Ukrainian American Catholic parishes in years 1946-1973.
Ukrainians in Ukraine and throughout the world commemorated in May murders by the Soviet Russian KGB agents of two prominent Ukrainian politicians and statesmen, Head of Government of Ukrainian National Republic Symon Petlura (May 25, 1926, in Paris, France), and a military and political leader, organizer and Head of Ukrainian Military Organization and Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists Yevhen Konovaletz (May 23, 1938 in Rotterdam, Holland).

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn (