31 March 2013


If you've always been fascinated by the icons that adorn Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox Churches but don't know much about them, now is the time to learn about this fascinating art form.  Do you know that icons are written not painted?  Most people don't.  

Rev. Fr. Thomas Loya will use the iconography that he created for the iconostasis and walls of Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church where he is pastor to explain that it takes more than paint, brushes and canvas to create an icon.  Much more! 

Iconography is a Loya family talent.  Father's brother Nicholas has an iconography studio in the Tremont section of Cleveland where Carpatho-Rusyns settled in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Those of us who attended the Cleveland Chapter's dedication of the bust of Fr. Aleksander Duchnovic, the Old Country priest who wrote the Rusyn anthem Ja Rusyn Bul (I am a Rusyn), last June had the opportunity to tour the area, including the churches and the iconography studio. 

The Lake Michigan Chapter Board hopes that we will see you at Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church for a great turnout for Fr. Thomas' presentation on April 13.  All the details are on the poster above.  Please let Charlotte or Ken know by Saturday, April 6 if you will be attending.  The women of the church want to continue the old Rusyn custom of having waaaaay more than enough refreshments for everyone. 

30 March 2013


Христос Воскресе!  BoиcтиHY Воскресе!
Christos Voskrese!  Voistinu Voskrese!
Christ is Risen!     Indeed He is Risen!

14 March 2013

06 March 2013



Watch the stage become a kaleidoscope of sight and sound as the Duquesne University Tamburitzans present an exciting show filled with Eastern European song, music and dance at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 17.  The performance will take place at Munster Senior High School, 8808 Columbia Avenue in Munster, Indiana.       
Celebrating their 76th season, the Duquesne Tamburitzans are the longest-running live stage show in the country and have performed in Northwest Indiana every year since their inception.  
The Tamburitzans carry on a cultural tradition representing Eastern Europe through music, folk dance and traditional, historically accurate, and vibrant costumes. Their songs are performed in many European languages and dialects while the dances are articulated in hundreds of styles. For many members of the ensemble, the commitment to the group starts early in life. “Most of these kids have heard these songs and seen these dances since they were children. It’s a way to pass on familial traditions and heritage from one generation to the next,” says Managing Director Paul G. Stafura.
Tamburitzans spend 25 days from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. learning the new show. From there we tour until school begins. Once classes start, we tour on weekends and during school break,” Rick Moore, tour manager for the Tamburitzans, noted.
Originally formed in 1937 as an all male group, the dance troupe was named after the Tamburitza, a family of stringed folk instruments predominant in Eastern European music. Today, the Tamburitzans welcome both male and female students to exhibit their talents.
Aside from being a Tamburitzan, 33 young men and women are undergraduate students majoring in a variety of studies including biology, pharmacy, education, marketing and digital arts.
For additional information and to order tickets, call 877-826-6437.  Tickets will also be available at the door.

05 March 2013


This 1937 photograph shows a play recreating life in the Carpatho-Rusyn homeland as presented at St. Mary's Greek Catholic Church on 49th and Seeley Avenue in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood.  It was posted on this blog on May 15, 2010 by the deceased founding president Tim Cuprisin of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society/Lake Michigan Chapter. 

Founded by Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants in 1903, St. Mary's closed in 1996 along with St. Mary's in Joliet, Illinois.  The two parishes merged into the new Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in Homer Glen, Illinois.

Tim’s father, John Cuprisin, is the third from the right in the back row.  At front left is Rev. Eugene Bereczky, the pastor of St. Mary's until the early 1960s. On the right is Paul Kabaczi, the parish's veteran cantor, who served into the 1970s. 

In the original post, Tim asked anyone who could identify someone in the photo to email him.  Last week, almost three years after that posting, an email arrived from Marti Gorun who identified the woman on the right side of Tim’s father as her grandmother Anna Gorun and on his left is her youngest son, Joseph Gorun.   Thanks for your help, Marti!!!

If you can identify any other person in the photo, please email the name and the position of the person to:  lakemichiganrusyns@gmail.com.

As many of us know all too well, pictures and other documentation of the early days of our Carpatho-Rusyn ancestors are slowly disappearing.  One of the objectives of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society is to preserve the history of our people.  If you have any photographs, ethnic clothing, family stories or other items reflecting our culture, please consider sharing them with our chapter or the National organization.  For further information, contact us at the email address above so we can collect, preserve and share our heritage. 

Thank you for wanting to perpetuate the Rusyn culture and visiting our blog.

03 March 2013

Ann Betz Walko—Carpatho-Rusyn Poet and Playwright

 Ann Betz Walko

March 6, 1908 - Feb. 10, 2013

Ann Walko In Memorium 2013
By Jerry Jumba

I first met Ann Walko in 2002 at the Andy Warhol Museum (a part of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum system) when she was 92 years young. The Carpatho-Rusyn Society Vice President Maryann Horchar Sivak found Ann Walko and booked her for a presentation at the annual Rusyn Event at the museum.  Ann was to give an interactive lecture and interview on her recently published book Eternal Memory (Vičnaja Pamjať in the Rusyn language) at the well-attended event.

I sang and played several American Carpatho-Rusyn Songs from the industrial era in Western Pennsylvania as a warm up for her presentation, then introduced her and interviewed her with a full-capacity crowd in the library. The seed of the purpose of that presentation effort around her book "Eternal Memory" has produced great results.

The follow-up work to research her stories and songs went forward to become a tremendous recall of her life experiences and some salty peppery commentary as an educational catalyst from 12 years of interviews of Ann Walko's life as the first generation born here in the Wall-Wilmerding-Trafford area. Several interviews included the merited life of her husband John Walko.

 My visits to Ann Walko to learn and share songs and plays and hear her memories began on June 1, 2002.  In subsequent years, her theatrical production Women's Lib was presented in 2003 and she also sang a short concert of Carpatho-Rusyns songs in 2005 with a six-piece orchestra of excellent folk art musicians. Based on 12 years of interviews, we are publishing a book called Ann Walko - Songs and Hymns Remembered (working title) with over 100 songs and hymns. Her commentary on the song and hymn texts illuminates and gives character to the value of family and community life in the first half of the 20th-century industrial era in Wall and Wilmerding. Her words also provide an educational and sociological contrast to the life and times of this 21st century.

After Ann Walko got her GED diploma, she took classes at the University of Pittsburgh and was told she needed to study a second language. She said she would study English and take writing classes because English was her second language. Studying under Dr. Peter Oresick, she went on to receive numerous writing awards. 

Ann lived a tri-cultural-paradigm kind of life of American, Carpatho-Rusyn and East Slovak community interaction and outreach, a life of merit and distinction in which she touched thousands of people's lives. There is a cultural awareness growth happening because the artistry of folk songs is an expressive communal catalyst for participation and social bonding.  I integrated a number of her Rusyn songs with translation into numerous Carpatho-Rusyn sing-alongs at many Carpatho-Rusyn Society events. I added her Rusyn hymns with translations to the authentic Carpatho-Rus’ Chant repertoire that I teach. The impact is the growth of appreciation and interest in singing these expressive songs. The same is true where I added a number of her East Slovak songs to Slovak events and sing-alongs for the Western Pennsylvania Slovak Cultural Association.  In 2009, Ann collaborated with Darina Protivnak, David Protivnak and me to write a joyful ending to the classic Rusyn song “červena ruža”.  This American-Rusyn creativity has been applauded by Rusyns in America and Europe. 

Our research work was featured on Pittsburgh's Educational Public Television station WQED's "On Q" and was first broadcast in December 2008 and throughout 2009 and 2010. It placed in the top five features and was repeated on numerous WQED TV broadcasts.  Over 200 people showed up for her 100th birthday party at the Westinghouse Castle in 2008.  WQED film-maker Pierina Morelli was there and began to film an amazing scenario. I asked Ann, "Did you go to school with any of these people?  How is it that you have over 200 friends here?" She said, "To have a friend you have to be a friend. I guess I was friendlier than I remember."

There were two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grants to help us in 2005 and 2006.  In 2008, I received a national grant from the Austin, Texas-based Fund for Folk Culture Grant Award, an artist-support program. The grant, underwritten by The Ford Foundation with additional support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, provides funds to individual folk and traditional artists to pursue opportunities that will help them grow artistically and professionally, to better connect with their cultural communities and to develop new audiences for their work.  Our grant’s focus was to help the authentic Carpatho-Rus' Liturgical Chant research move forward into a best practice curriculum and inspire participation.

This song and sociological study had significant heaven-blessed public and civic philanthropic funding support from the empathetic cultural resource specialists Julie Malinich Throckmorten Meunier and Dolores Dyan- -two fine souls from the Rivers of Steel Foundation in Homestead who connected us with the two Pennsylvania grantees, Pennsylvania Institute of Cultural Partnerships in Harrisburg and the Fund For Folk Culture. Without their financial support, this research and publishing work could not go forward.

In 2011, we began the final editing to shore up the parameters of the Ann Walko - Songs and Hymns Remembered book and finished near the end of 2012. This was a careful and tedious process because of the sorting of the numerous Carpatho-Rusyn dialects and East Slovak dialects of the texts and melody variants as well as the various translations. When we were stuck with a difficult translation, Ann always quoted somebody from long ago who said, "Translation is odious." She squinted every time she spoke the quote, in a sonorous, slow-motion extended pronunciation.  In this time of the final edit review, we remained enthusiastic, participatory and focused. 

 In these later years when Ann stayed home, she remained focused and committed in the joy of work as a labor of love. Her home was the precious environment where history came alive in her memory and helped to provide continuous inspiration for her editing and commentary work. There was the fear that if she left that environment, as she did two years ago after breaking a hip in a fall, that she would begin to lose the environmental context of her memories. In the last year of her life, I continued to work with Ann in her home in order to complete as quickly as is possible this magnificent outreach of human experience articulated with character, spirit and dignity.

 Ann's influences were about hospitality and the soulful kindness she experienced in her neighborhood and at her church in Wall and with her parents and their boarding house for railroad workers. She heard the boarders sing and tell stories before the time of the telephone and radio and became a conversationalist and a dancer.

Ann chanted the Carpatho-Rus' liturgical chant at Holy Trinity Byzantine Catholic Church in Wall.  And it happened that for a number of years the cantor, Professor John Ribnicky, lived as a boarder in the Walko house. The Carpatho-Rusyn chant and hymns I learned from Ann were lit up with her commentary rich from memories experienced at the Divine Liturgy and the social fabric of church life. She contributed knowledge that added to the chant cultural and educational stewardship sustainability and development. This is an important aspect of my work; talking with her helped to elucidate the progression of the historical story of Carpatho-Rus' prayer life nurtured in the American Byzantine Catholic Church. Sometimes excellent prayer can be like spiritual lightning to wake up a soul or quietly fill it up with super-charged inspiration. How a living vocalized prayer culture is learned, earned and realized is worthy of study in order to incorporate the best practices of chant education and to achieve its inspirational purpose to live in the fullness of earning and sharing God’s love every day.

Ann taught catechism to many grade levels, wrote catechetical plays and had fashion shows. In the early 1960s, she wrote a serious comedy, Ženska Šljeboda  (Svoboda)  or phonetically Zhenska Shljeboda which translates to Woman’s Liberation or Women’s Lib.  It received thunderous applause from a packed house in the church hall.

Ann’s keen observations and comments based on them stem from good memories which are critical to nurturing the cultural development and preservation that we treasure in a community--live to earn the spiritual victories by sharing the love of God in circulation. So I treasure that almost indescribable level of empathy that sees how the good we do in life always matters. Ann Walko thought this way, too. There is always something to learn. The good acts of living always add up internally in one's very own soul.

At the conclusion of the Carpatho-Rusyn Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox Church funerals at the final resting place, we chant "Vičnaja Pamjať " which translates as "Eternal Memory".  It is about being attentive to the constancy of the eternal presence of God's love. It became the title of her book, Eternal Memory. 
 The Ann Walko legacy shows the cultural continuity and sustainability that faced the educational and cultural challenges in her life time.  She made a life time of exceptional effort as a culture builder with a mind for civic service and church service.  In addition, she pointed out the precious value of collaboration by building a family with her dear husband John, her immediate and extended family and her neighbors who experienced the eternal nurturing value of hospitality in community life. She has personified the goodness of hospitality and community life in her actions and writings which might be best summed up by what Ann Walko writes on the title page of her books, plays, and poetry, “To________  Written with joy, with pleasure shared, Ann Walko".

 To see Ann Betz Walko's obituary, click on the link below: