20 January 2011

Mark your calendar for our March 26 Rusyn Pysanky Workshop

I know, I know. We just finished up with the Christmas season.

But the deep, dark depths of winter are a good time to start working on your pysanky -- or at least pondering them.

The Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society has already begun planning for our next event, a Pysanky Workshop, featuring an experienced practitioner of the art form that Rusyns and our European neighbors have perfected, Mary Ann Woloch Vaughn.

She'll be leading our Pysanky Workshop on Saturday, March 26, at 1 p.m. at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, 8530 W. 131st St., Palos Park, Ill. The workshop is designed to introduce the history and techniques of a folk art form that Rusyns hold dear.

We'll have more details as the event nears. But it's never too early to clear the date on your calendar.

18 January 2011

Honoring our Minnesota Rusyn neighbor, Larry Goga

Larry Goga
The Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural Center blog has posted a nice profile of Larry Goga, the driving force behind organizing the Rusyn community, and founder of the Minnesota Rusin Association.

Larry, who has retired from active leadership of the Rusin Association, was a trailblazer in getting Rusyns together, organizing long before the Carpatho-Rusyn Society got on its feet in Pennsylania, with a much larger Rusyn community.

As Maryann Sivak writes, "Thank you, Larry. As you once told me, 'old soldiers never die, they just fade away.' In our hearts you'll never fade away. You are an inspiration and example to us of what one individual can achieve when he really puts his mind to it. Your contribution to enriching our Rusyn culture has been priceless."

The Rusin Association sponsors its 25th annual Duchnovich Day Dinner on Saturday, February 5.

16 January 2011

A Carpatho-Rusyn feast in Niles to cap off the holidays

The food line thins out a bit Saturday afternoon in Niles, Ill.

Some three dozen people gathered in the church hall at St. Michael Orthodox Church in Niles, Ill. on Saturday afternoon to feast on Rusyn delicacies, sing traditional Christmas carols and celebrate their culture at the first Rusyn New Year potluck sponsored by the Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society.

There was a wide variety of food available, from salads and cold snacks, like sausage and bryndza cheese, to cabbage soup and borscht, entrees that featured sauerkraut and, of course, pirohy and halushky. Deserts ran the gamut as well, offering more than enough food for the crowd.

Recipes are being collected so we can share our common food history. 

Toasts were offered as well Saturday afternoon as well, with the crowd sampling vodka and home-made slivovitsa, in keeping with the Rusyn flavor of the day, marking old-calendar New Year's Day, which fell on Friday this year.

This was also a way to keep Rusyn Christmas traditions alive, with John Sutko, a member of the LMC/CRS board and choir director at St. Peter & St. Paul Orthodox Church, ably leading the group in traditional carols.

John Sutko
Among the audience favorites, the beloved "O, Kto, Kto," hymn to St. Nicholas.

The day also featured fledgling efforts to archive the history of Rusyns in the Chicagoland/Northwest Indiana area, as board member Andrea Valasek began the process of scanning photographs brought in by members and new Rusyn friends attending their first chapter event.

We'll continue to post pictures from our history on the blog and we're always looking for more. Rusyns have lived in this area since the 19th Century, and it's crucial for us to understand that we're not a new people who've just appeared on the scene.

Special thanks to Father Sam Sherry of St. Michael's, and of his parish community for hosting our event -- and participating in it.

Next up: Stay tuned for more information on our pysanky workshop planned for the afternoon of Saturday, March 26th.

We'll shortly have details on the location and our presenter.

12 January 2011

A snapshot from Chicago's South Side Rusyn community in 1922

This photograph of the 1922 first communion group at St. Mary's Greek Catholic Church at 4949 S. Seeley Ave., offers a snapshot that includes ancestors of parishioners at two existing parishes, one Byzantine Catholic and one Orthodox.

By 1931, a substantial portion of the parish would leave to create St. Peter & St. Paul's Orthodox Church at 53rd and Western, which relocated in 1998 to Burr Ridge.

St. Mary's remained until 1996, when it was merged with the Joliet St. Mary's as Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church in Homer Glen.

I don't have any of the names of the children in the phot. But the priest is Father Max Relich, who was pastor of St. Mary's from 1908 to 1929. The cantor is identified as Vasyl Sklyar.

09 January 2011

Counting Rusyns and Ukrainians together in Slovakia?

Rudolf Chmel, Slovakia's Deputy Prime Minister for Human Rights and National Minorities, tells the English-language Slovak Spectator that his government is proposing counting Rusyns and Ukrainians together, when enforcing minority language rights:

"Considering the Ruthenian minority, we propose counting them together with the Ukrainians for the purposes of minority language usage, which would mean that even the town of Humenné would become officially bilingual."

You can find the complete interview here.

07 January 2011

A Rusyn Christmas gift from Metropolitan Nicholas

From the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese website comes this wonderful audio of Metropolitan Nicholas singing "When the Brillant Star Shone"/ "Koli Jasna Zvizda." Deacon David Mastroberte, who pointed the link out, offers the English version.

Troubling news from Transcarpathia

Rusyn activist Dmitry Sidor
(Radio Liberty photo)
If this story is to be believed, there's a threat of armed struggle from some Rusyn activists in the Trans-Carpathian oblast of Ukraine.

Writes Paul Gobel: "Only weeks after Russia’s consul general in Lviv called him the “Moses” of his people, Dmitry Sidor, an Uzhgorod priest loyal to Moscow who heads the Rusyn movement in Transcarpathia, declared this week that “after many years” of using only political tactics, the Rusyns are now prepared to “defend their freedom with arms in their hands.”

Христос раждається! Christos Raždajetsja! Christ is born!

For those of you who follow the old calendar, the best of Christmas wishes to you! 

The Nativity scene below comes from the original St. Michael the Archangel Church at 2417 N. Campbell Ave. on Chicago's North Side. 

Yes, it's a very Westernized image of the first Christmas, but it reflects the period when the church -- now located in Niles, Ill. -- was formed in 1914.

The original hangs behind the iconostasis at St. Michael's. Thanks to Father Sam Sherry for allowing me to photograph it.

06 January 2011

Images from Carpatho-Rusyn Christmases past

Today is Christmas Eve, according to the Julian Calendar, which is a good time to post some photos of Christmases past from the Carpatho-Rusyn communities of Illinois and Indiana. 

Both photos show Viflejemčiki or Jasličkári, traditional Rusyn Bethlehem singers. The tradition was brought from villages in the Carpathian homeland, where the costumed groups of young men would go from house to house, singing carols and performing brief plays.

The first is undated, and comes from Nativity of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church the coal mining town of Buckner, Ill., southeast of St. Louis, Mo., and comes to us thanks to Phil Chomiak.

Lying down in the photo are George Durkota and Frank Repak. Seated are Mike Beskidnek and Charles (Wasil) Spontak. Standing, with head-pieces and robes are John Bobiak, Myron Posypanko, Sam Grozik, and Steve Revak. Standing, back row, in suits, are George Orshak, Frank (Buck) Disko, and John Baligroski. The church was made by Mike Grozik.

Next is a faded image from the Holy Ghost Greek Catholic Church, located in Indiana Harbor, Ind.

I apologize for the quality of the photo, but it's a scan of a faded page from the 1936 Greek Catholic Union Kalendar

The priest is identified as Rev. Irinij Dolhy. Parish council president Michael Primich is at left, and singing teacher Theodor Berezni is at the right.

None of the boys are identified.

04 January 2011

A Rusyn competition on Radio Slovakia International

Slovakia's Carpatho-Rusyn minority is the subject of a question in Radio Slovakia International's latest listener competion.

The competition features a monthly question concerning one of the country's minority groups.

The January question: "In which year did the Rusyns in Slovakia get the official status of an ethnic minority?"

Answers are accepted until Jan. 27 at englishsection@slovakradio.sk or by regular mail to Radio Slovakia International, Mytna 1, PO Box 55, 817 55 Bratislava, Slovakia.

The winner of the competition -- which runs until July -- gets a week-long stay for two at the water park in Poprad in Vysoke Tatry. (You'll have to get to Slovakia on your own, though).