• Carpatho-Rusyns a Main Attraction at Revived Pa. Ethnic
• National Capital Chapter Has Dynamic Fall Schedule
• Awareness-Building on Rusyns in Ukraine Continues with
EU, U.S. Congress
• “Poljana” Ensemble Delights Crowd at First Cultural
Carpatho-Rusyns a Main Attraction at Revived Pa. Ethnic
(New Rusyn Times,
The Ethnic Festival of Northeastern PA returned to
Wilkes-Barre, Pa. the weekend of August 5-6 after a ten-year absence. It was a long-running, exceedingly
popular event last held in 1996 just over the Susquehanna River in Kingston,
revived and sponsored this year by King’s College and the Fraternal Societies
of NEPA. The Field House of King’s College in downtown Wilkes-Barre was the
setting for the event, which drew the participation of local and regional
ethnic, religious, and community organizations.
As at the previous festival in 1996, C-RS organized a strong
Carpatho-Rusyn presence at the festival with an extensive cultural-historical
display and marketplace. Susan Timo
(Bentleyville, PA) coordinated the entire C-RS participation. Three C-RS chapters – National
Capital, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh – sent delegations of workers and
cultural artifacts, literature, display tables, and sales items. Those from the
National Capital Chapter who worked at the display and marketplace were Rich
Custer (Washington, DC), John,
Mary, and Patricia Onufrak (McLean, VA), Elaine
Rusinko (Potomac, MD), and John
Schweich (Reston, VA). From the New Jersey
Chapter came chapter president Joyce Barr (Morristown, NJ), Len Berdy (Wayne, NJ), Jerry Chanda
(Trenton, NJ), Beverly Hawkins (Wallingford,
PA), Jim Huratiak (Sellersville,
PA), Sharon Jarrow (Nazareth, PA),
Michelle Parvensky (Nazareth,
PA), Kathryn and Tom Peters (Somerville,
NJ), and Tom Singel (Hatfield,
PA). And from the Pittsburgh Chapter came Helen Hopey (Coraopolis, PA), Cathy Silvestri (Pittsburgh, PA), Ann Swanson (Charleroi, PA), Susan and Barb Timo (Bentleyville, PA), and Judy Schall (Plum Borough, PA). Members from
central Pa. and the Wilkes-Barre area who worked included John
Kucirka (Dallas, PA), Rich
Laychock (Hershey, PA), Scott
Masich (Stillwater, PA), and Nick
Patlovich (Berwick, PA).
Rich Custer also wrote and designed a new brochure
specifically for the festival: “Carpatho-Rusyns in Northeastern Pennsylvania”.
Several hundred copies were distributed that weekend. The brochure can be
downloaded from the C-RS website.
Another local C-RS member, John Kish (Ashley, PA), contributed his own display, “Wooden
Churches of Sub-Carpatho Rus’”, co-sponsored by Greek Catholic Union Lodge 443
of Wilkes-Barre Township. It
featured a selection of John’s intricately-detailed scale models of Rusyn
wooden churches. He also distributed an informative brochure about this
remarkable treasure of the Rusyn people.
Other ethnic groups of the region that participated in the
festival with cultural displays, performers, and/or food sales included Poles, Slovaks,
African-Americans, Lebanese, Greeks, Indians, and Brazilians. However, only the
Slovak culture/history display, organized by several local Slovak
organizations, in any way approached the C-RS Carpatho-Rusyn display in size
and scope. Indeed, without the Rusyns and Slovaks, the festival would have
The proceeds of the festival were donated to the Wyoming
Valley Habitat for Humanity. In the spirit of this benefit, C-RS put together a
gift basket of Rusyn items and donated it to Habitat for Humanity to use as a housewarming
gift for the next house the organization builds.
While this first revived festival was not particularly well
attended, the organizers have announced their intent to have the next one in
2008, with the hopes that once it regains momentum, it will reclaim its spot as
the premiere multi-ethnic celebration in northeastern Pennsylvania. We hope
that a C-RS chapter in the region will be a reality by then and can continue
the strong Carpatho-Rusyn representation at the festival.
Three C-RS chapters came together to produce an outstanding
Carpatho-Rusyn display area; representatives from each chapter “triple-teaming”
the display here are, from left: Elaine Rusinko, Cathy Silvestri, and Joyce
Noted Rusyn genealogy specialist Tom Peters was on hand with
his detailed Rusyn genealogy display and research advice.
John Kish’s display of his handmade Carpatho-Rusyn wooden
church models introduced festival-goers to this particular treasure of our
At the Carpatho-Rusyn display prepared by three C-RS
chapters, Jerry Chanda (l.) and Scott Masich (r.) promote an understanding of
Rusyn culture with festival attendees.
Ann Swanson (l.) and Barb Timo (r.) show the spirit of Rusyn
pride and teamwork at the C-RS Carpatho-Rusyn Marketplace.
National Capital Chapter Has Dynamic Fall Schedule
Submitted by Victor Haburchak (C-RS NCC President,
(New Rusyn Times,
The C-RS National Capital Chapter (NCC) Board has expanded
to 11 members in recent months, with high attendance of all at regular monthly
planning meetings. The Board is planning and scheduling three to four events
for chapter members, generally on a quarterly basis. Most events are held at
the McLean Governmental Center, McLean, Va. Programs this fall have included an October 8th presentation by NRT Editor Richard
Custer (Washington, DC) entitled “Uncovering and Publishing the
History of Pennsylvania’s Rusyns,” and an open reception was held on November
17th for chapter members and friends coinciding with the annual
convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies
(AAASS). This reception was co-hosted by one of our chapter’s newest members, James
Kaminsky (Washington, DC), and his mother
Annabelle, who came in from Indiana for the event.
A number of chapter members were directly involved in the
AAASS meetings. On November 16th, NCC Vice President, Professor Elaine
Rusinko (Potomac, MD), chaired a
conference panel “Carpatho-Rusyns in the Twenty-First Century: An Update” with
presentations on politics by Prof. Paul R. Magocsi, language by Prof. Robert
Rothstein, media by Brian Pozun
(C-RS, New York, NY), and critical observations on each by Prof. Thomas Bird.
In conjunction with the convention, chapter board members partnered with the
Carpatho-Rusyn Research Center (C-RRC) to staff the C-RRC sales booth in the
convention exhibition hall. C-RRC President Magocsi thanked the board, stating
that all past sales records for such an event were exceeded. The conference
presented an ideal setting to raise the consciousness of academics and
governmental experts about the Rusyn people and their issues in the
Chapter Vice-President Elaine Rusinko, also an officer of
the C-RRC, supported the initiative of other C-RRC officers to have C-RRC named
an official affiliate of the AAASS. The AAASS leadership approved this
initiative at the November convention (see www.fas.harvard.edu/~aaass/organizations/c-rrc.html).
Other chapter activities included conducting November
briefings at the embassies of Ukraine, Serbia, Romania, and Holy See (Vatican).
Chairman of the World Congress of Rusyns, Prof. Paul R. Magocsi and chapter
board members discussed with diplomats key concerns of Rusyn minority rights as
well as matters related to the upcoming IX World Congress of Rusyns (Romania,
June 2007). C-RS New England
Chapter members Orestes and Katarina Mihaly (Armonk, NY) also participated in the meetings with the Papal Nuncio. (see
related stories below)
NCC Board Member Patricia Onufrak (McLean, VA) is spearheading an initiative to
establish a Rusyn language study group for chapter members located in commuting
distance of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. An initial survey was
distributed to all chapter members, with results being used to plan this
activity. We anticipate a start date of late spring or summer 2007.
The spring 2007 program, tentatively scheduled for March, will
relate to another chapter initiative, “Rusyn Cultural Literacy.” The details of
the program will be announced in February.
Professor Elaine Rusinko (2nd from left) provides
context for the AAASS panel papers about to be presented. Panelists and
discussants included, from left: Robert Rothstein, Elaine Rusinko, Brian Pozun,
Paul Magocsi, and Thomas Bird.
Awareness-Building on Rusyns in Ukraine Continues with
EU, U.S. Congress
Submitted by Victor Haburchak (C-RS NCC President,
(New Rusyn Times,
Rusyn minority rights awareness-building is continuing in
full force, led by the C-RS National Capital Chapter in metropolitan
Washington, DC. Members of the European Union and other opinion leaders were
presented with a copy of the press release of the World Congress of Rusyns
Chairman / Rusyn American delegation’s recent embassy visits, as were key news
outlets domestically and internationally. The National Capital Chapter
leadership has begun contacts with the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus of the
U.S. House of Representatives, and is working to have face-to-face briefings
soon after Congress reconvenes in 2007.
Issues of Rusyn minority recognition in Ukraine are at the top of the
agenda. Congresspersons sitting on
the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus are Marcy Kaptur (D-9th Ohio), Sander Levin
(D-12th Michigan), Roscoe Bartlett (R- 6th Maryland), and incoming caucus
member James Gerlach (R-6th Pennsylvania). C-RS officers and members in Ohio,
Michigan, Maryland, or Pennsylvania who are concerned about the cultural rights
and discrimination against Ukraine’s Rusyns are encouraged to contact NCC
President Victor Haburchak for an
e-mail copy of our briefing package on Rusyn minority rights in Ukraine. This
document would be helpful for conversations with your Congressional Ukrainian
Caucus congressperson at his or her local office (e-mail requests to USA.Rusyn@gmail.com).
“Poljana” Ensemble Delights Crowd at First Cultural
(New Rusyn Times,
The Carpatho-Rusyn folk ensemble “Poljana”, a group of women
from the village of Orjabyna (Jarabina), Slovakia, delivered a spirited concert
of Rusyn folk and religious music at the National Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural &
Education Center in Munhall, Pa., on the evening of August 25th. The
concert was the first public cultural event held at the center. The ladies from
Orjabyna were visiting the United States for several weeks at the invitation of
members of St. Nicholas Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, New York, N.Y.
The ensemble members are also part of the women’s choir of
the Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Church of Orjabyna. Both the folk
ensemble and choir are directed by noted musicologist and singer Dr. Anna
Derevjanyk (Derevjaniková), an Orjabyna native, assisted by Marija Kanja
(Kaňová). The program
included haunting and joyful songs from their village (many of which were
featured on the ensemble’s 1999 album Korčene, Korčene) and spiritually-moving religious hymns.
Marija Kanja, speaking in Rusyn, introduced each song /
suite, and Maryann Sivak (C-RS, Pittsburgh, PA), a native of Orjabyna’s nearby
neighbor village Jakubjany~, provided English translation. The singers
enchanted the audience with songs about the life of Orjabyna’s vagabond tinkers (dritare) and the emotional highs and
lows of a new bride’s courtship and marriage.
After the intermission, the Slavjane Folk Ensemble of McKees
Rocks took the stage for a set of Carpatho-Rusyn folk dance, and members of
Poljana and Slavjane joined together for the song “A mŷj mylŷj z lisa
The concert was attended by well over 100 C-RS members and
friends from as far as Cleveland and Washington, D.C. It was preceded by a
social hour at which delicious Rusyn cuisine was served and enjoyed by those in
Accompanied by Stephanie Salony (C-RS, Flemington, NJ), the ensemble visited St.
Nicholas Church in New York City, where many Orjabyna natives are members, and
other sites around New York and Washington, D.C., where they also visited the
grave of Sgt. Michael Strank at Arlington National Cemetery. U.S. Marine Sgt.
Strank (Mychal Strenk) was born in Orjabyna and is remembered as one of the Iwo
The day after their performance at the Cultural Center, the
group visited Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Johnstown. On Sunday, August 27th they traveled to Camp Nazareth in Mercer, Pa., to attend the Dormition
pilgrimage (odpust) of the American
Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, at which they were the special guest choir.
Their traditional Rusyn prostopinije
(plainchant) and spiritual hymns brought the old-country Rusyn spirit to the
hundreds of pilgrims present that day in the magnificent wooden church of
Saints Cyril and Methodios.
The “Poljana” ensemble with their accompanists at the conclusion
of their Munhall concert.
(the other 2 concert photos have no captions)
Members of the ensemble with Metropolitan Nicholas after the
Divine Liturgy at Sts. Cyril and Methodios Church at Camp Nazareth.