MUNSTER | St. Josaphat Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church hosted a Chicagoland Genocide Remembrance Day on Sept. 22.
This solemn annual event to remember the victims of the Ukrainian genocide "Holodomor" is coordinated by the Ukrainian Genocide Famine-Foundation - USA, based in Chicago.
Hosting a Chicagoland Genocide Remembrance Day in Munster as the world commemorated the 80th anniversary of the Ukrainian genocide was very important to the Rev. Yaroslav Medyuk. One of his oldest parishoners, Olya Weylowska, was 10 when the Ukrainian genocide began in 1932.
"She lived through horrors no child should have to bear witness to when members of her own family perished before her eyes from forced starvation," UGFF-USA board member Katya Mischenko-Mycyk said.
It was standing-room-only as busloads of attendees arrived from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs to fill the pews at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church alongside parishioners.
The program began with an Ecumenical Requiem led by clergy from both Illinois and Indiana, followed by a solemn procession of clergy, choir members, Ukrainian-American organization representatives and attendees.
A "Holodnij Obid" (hungry lunch) consisting of small portions of symbolic black bread, honey, herring and potatoes was served in the church hall to remind attendees of the suffering of the 10 million victims of the Ukrainian genocide of 1932-33. Participants viewed a short educational film developed by UGFF-USA board member Motria Melnyk for classroom presentations, an interview with Wesylowska by filmmaker Julian Hayda.
In the filmed interview, Wesylowska describes the horror of seeing young children walking around on the streets looking like skeletons with large puffed bellies. Their bellies were swollen because they were slowly starving before they would eventually collapse on the streets, only to be thrown into carts and carted away to mass graves.
Consul General of Ukraine in Chicago, Andriy Pravednyk, gave the official greeting on behalf of the Ukrainian Embassy. UGFF-USA President Nicholas Mischenko, and UGFF-USA board members the Rev. Myron Panchuk and Mila Glubisz explained how to get involved in promoting Ukrainian genocide awareness.
An emotional poetic performance was recited by Leonida Mitnychuk of the Theater Group "Homin" of St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Chicago. The Revs. Yaroslav Medyuk and Viktor Poliarny of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral - Kyivan Patriarch in Bloomingdale, Ill. closed the event with prayer.
For more information, visit www.UkrainianGenocide.org or the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation - USA Facebook page.