UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Ukrainian-American Community of NY Metropolitan Area Remembers Victims of Genocidal Famine in Ukraine of 1932-1933
As millions of Ukrainians throughout the world marked the 82nd Anniversary of Ukraine’s Genocidal Famine of 1932-1933, the walls of the 19th century St. Patrick Cathedral in New York, NY welcomed and were filled with thousands of people and solemn chanting of a Memorial service, honoring the memory of about 10 million people, the victims of the artificially created Genocide-Famine in Ukraine.
On Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 1:00PM, the Ukrainian community, under the leadership of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) held its now annual requiem service to commemorate the 82nd Anniversary of Ukraine’s Genocide of 1932-1933, known in Ukrainian as the Holodomor. The clergy and hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic Churches (His Eminence Metropolitan Antony of the Eastern Eparchy and Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA; His Grace Bishop Paul Chomnytsky of Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, CT; His Grace Bishop Daniel of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and His Grace Bishop-Emeritus Basil Losten of Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, CT) led this year’s Memorial Panachyda for the repose of the souls of the millions of innocent victims of the Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-1933.
Prior to the beginning of the Memorial service, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony addressed several thousand people in attendance stating:
“Ukraine, the so-called “breadbasket of Europe” has always been known for its black soil and for the great beauty of its golden grain. Eighty-two years ago millions of Ukrainians died of famine and the reason for this famine was not any natural catastrophe, such as a severe drought. I remember being told by a survivor of the famine about a small child, who 82 years ago had not enough strength to stands on his own two feet, but managed to crawl on his stomach to grab a handful of grass and then struggled greatly, dragged himself to carry that grass back to his starving parents so that they might live on, rather than die in agony. Elsewhere at the same time not far away sat a mother with tears running down her cheek gazing upon here dead children. Still another heart wrenching scene, depicted in a famous painting by Bohdan Pevnyj, hanging in our seminary library of an elderly woman, someone’s Babusya, on her knees in a field plowed over after an abundant harvest, searching for kernels of wheat, still clinging to hope about next year’s harvest if she can survive the coming winter. Eighty-two years ago our nation was dying of famine, while elsewhere in the Soviet Union, others were spreading butter on freshly baked bread.
Year after year we have gathered in the spiritual centers of our Ukrainian community, in our parish churches – for the 24th year in a row right here in St. Patrick Cathedral – to commemorate and show our respect for the victims of the HOLODOMOR of 1932-33 in Ukraine – HOLODOMOR – murder by starvation. Year after year we proclaim and repeat that WE WILL NEVER FORGET! WE WILL NEVER FORGET! WE WILL NEVER FORGET!
Step by step, in reality, we have come closer to our goal. Twenty-five years ago very few people in Ukraine and throughout the world had any knowledge about this great sorrow of the Ukrainian Nation. Today, thanks to our collective effort and those of individuals like Dr. James Mace, some very dedicated members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives who finally passed the measure condemning the HOLODOMOR as genocide, millions of Ukrainians and other citizens of the world have come to know about this horrific act of Joseph Stalin and his atheistic regime against the Ukrainian nation.
Books, videos, public school curricula, the internet and other methods of mass communication have ensured that people are informed about millions of innocent men, women and children who were denied the most basic necessity for continued life – food, taken from their ovens, their tables and every corner of their homes. Perhaps the most important evidence of our success is the dedication in our nation’s capital – Washington, D.C. – just a few weeks ago – of a monument to those victims of genocide at a very prominent location, just blocks from the US capitol building, Union Station and on Embassy Row – Massachusetts Avenue – where foreign diplomats will pass on their way to Congress or to catch a train for the daily commute to their homes. Thousands of people gathered for this occasion and no one in the world will find it possible to deny the reality of the HOLODOMOR. To construct such a monument in Ukraine itself is one thing – something expected – but to do so here in the USA, is quite another.
We here in the diaspora, have protected and shared with generations of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, that characteristic of Ukrainian Americans, or Canadians, or Australians, or of Brazilians or of any other nation where we find a Ukrainian population – the characteristic which a totalitarian system of the communist regime with all its strength and resources attempted to erase from the face of the earth. The characteristic of which we speak is our innate comprehension of the sanctity of human life, which no one has the right to bring to an end – from conception all the way through to natural death.
I say all this because it is important that not sit back and rest on our laurels, assuming that we have accomplished our goal and now we can relax. Our efforts MUST continue. Our reminders to the world MUST continue. Those who perpetrated the atrocity of the HOLODOMOR also have modern day descendants, who seek to renew the effort of their predecessors – as evidenced by the terror presently gripping Ukraine – at the cost of over 8,000 lives. The HOLODOMOR, rather than enhancing the position of its perpetrators, was instead, the beginning of their end, ultimately resulting in the collapse of their system. No political system weighed down so heavily by its own inhuman behavior can endure forever. The Soviet system collapsed under that weight and will be remembered only as a failure and for its brief existence relative to world history.
We must never allow ourselves the luxury of relaxing our efforts because if we do, if we forget or if fail to remind the world about those we remember today, we become responsible for creating the circumstances in which it can happen again. GOD FORBID…GOD FORBID…GOD FORBID. Let us pray for the repose of the souls of our brothers and sisters…”
Following the requiem service, representatives from the United States government were offered an opportunity to deliver remarks. Among the speakers was Mrs. Tamara Gallo Olexy, president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, which along with the National Holodomor Committee and the Churches organizes the event each year.
Ambassador of Ukraine to the USA, His Excellency Valeriy Chaly and Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Nations Yurii Sergeiv spoke about the horror of the genocidal Holodomor and made references to the historic event of opening and dedications of the National US National Holodomor Memorial in Washington, DC which took place on November 7, 2015. This was an enormous event for Ukrainian people everywhere; and millions of people from around the world now have an opportunity to view the memorial annually because it is located in a very prominent place near Union Station and the US Capitol building where Congress is seated.
A letter from the White House was read by one of the US representatives to the United Nations, which stated: “Today we join Ukrainians here in America and around the world to remember the catastrophe of the Holodomor, and the millions of innocent Ukrainians who starved to death more than eight decades ago as a result of the brutal policies of Joseph Stalin’s regime. It was the Soviet regime’s deliberate seizure of Ukrainian crops and refusal to provide food relief that turned Europe’s breadbasket into a land of immeasurable human suffering.
Despite decades of totalitarian rule, Ukrainians refused to abandon their drive for freedom and independence. And as the Ukrainian people face new threats to their territory and well-being, they have once again demonstrated their resolute commitment to human dignity. Ukraine’s modern struggle for freedom and democracy is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of its people and honors the memory of the many who perished under Stalin’s brutal rule.
It is incumbent upon us to remember the horrors of the past as we renew our commitment to the prevention of future atrocities. Through the tireless efforts of the Ukrainian-American community and friends of the Ukrainian people, a memorial now stands in the heart of our nation’s capital, allowing Americans to share in the somber memory of the Holodomor and reflect upon our shared determination to build a better world.”
Bishop Paul of Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, CT closed the commemoration expressing gratitude to all the hierarchs and clergy, to the speakers, and to all present in the Cathedral and finally to His Excellency Cardinal Dolan who, along with his predecessors for nearly two decades invited the Ukrainian-American community to conduct the commemoration in the Cathedral.
The Dumka Choir, under the direction of maestro Vasyl Hrechynsky chanted solemn responses to a Memorial Panakhyda for the Famine victims. The Memorial event concluded with the singing of “Bozhe Velykyj”.