The Executive Committee of the Ukrainian National Association (from left): National Secretary Yuriy Symczyk, President Stefan Kaczaraj, Treasurer Roma Lisovich, First Vice-President Michael Koziupa, Second Vice-President Eugene Oscislawski and Director for Canada Myron Groch.

UNA General Assembly holds 2016 annual meeting

Yuriy Symczyk elected as national secretary

KERHONKSON, N.Y. – The Ukrainian National Association’s General Assembly convened its 2016 annual meeting here at the Soyuzivka Heritage Center on Friday and Saturday, November 18-19. The business sessions were marked by good news about the UNA’s continued progress during 2016 – the fourth year in a row that the fraternal organization has enjoyed net profits. In addition, during the past year the UNA’s surplus has grown by nearly $1 million and is projected to stand at $9.3 million by the end of the year. Reports were delivered by the full-time executive officers of the UNA, President Stefan Kaczaraj and Treasurer Roma Lisovich, as well as Deputy National Secretary Yuriy Symczyk, who was elected by the General Assembly to serve as national secretary. All other General Assembly members – executive officers, advisors and auditors – as well as the editor-in-chief of the UNA’s official publications, Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly, had the opportunity to deliver addenda to their written reports.

Children bring offerings of wheat stalks during the procession at the start of the memorial service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Victims of 1932-1933 Holodomor remembered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

NEW YORK – Hundreds of Ukrainian Americans from the tri-state area and beyond gathered at the landmark St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday, November 12, for the annual commemoration of the Holodomor, the genocidal famine that killed millions in Ukraine in 1932-1933. They came, as Bishop Paul Chomnycky said in his opening remarks, because “It is our solemn duty to remember this sad page in the history of the Ukrainian people and, indeed, of the world, not only to ensure that it is never repeated anywhere ever again, but to commend to the Lord the poor souls who had no one to pray for them.”

The Ukrainian Catholic eparch of Stamford, Conn., explained: “It is our obligation today, and always, to remember and to pray for those poor souls who had no one to pray for them, for those whom the world had forgotten for so long…”

The solemn ceremonies began with a procession of Holodomor survivors, students and members of the Ukrainian American Youth Association and Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization. The children carried wheat stalks symbolizing the harvest seized by the Stalin regime from Ukraine. Metropolitan Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., and Bishop Chomnycky and Bishop Emeritus Basil Losten of the Ukrainian Catholic Church led the memorial service for the Holodomor’s victims. Responses were sung by the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York, under the direction of Vasyl Hrechynsky.

Participants of the New Jersey UNA District Committee’s fall organizing meeting.

New Jersey District Committee holds fall organizing meeting

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – The New Jersey District Committee of the Ukrainian National Association held its fall organizing meeting here at the UNA Home Office on Friday, November 11, with representatives of UNA Branches 25, 37, 42, 76, 133, 155, 171, 269 and 287 and in attendance. The UNA Executive Committee was represented by UNA First Vice-President Michael Koziupa. UNA President Stefan Kaczaraj stopped by the meeting to greet participants, while Treasurer Roma Lisovich, who could not attend, sent a written update on UNA matters that was distributed to attendees. At the beginning of the meeting, a moment of silence was observed and a prayer said for the repose of UNA National Secretary Christine E. Kozak, who passed away in June. New Jersey District Chairperson Oksana Stanko delivered a report on the district’s activity, pointing to its presence at area festivals where members manned UNA information tables.

Dancers of Iskra Academy and Iskra Ensemble strike the final pose of Hopak.

Iskra Academy and Ensemble celebrate 20 years of dance

MORRIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. – The Iskra Ukrainian Dance Academy and the Iskra Ukrainian Dance Ensemble that emerged from it, celebrated 20 years of educating youngsters and audiences about the beauty and uniqueness of Ukrainian folk dance with a special presentation here at the College of St. Elizabeth on Sunday, October 16. The event drew an audience of about 400 to the college’s Dolan Performance Hall, a state-of-the-art theater in the Convent Station section of Morris Township, N.J., that perfectly fit the bill for Iskra’s celebration of its milestone. The show was performed by all five of Iskra Academy’s dance groups, which encompass 80 students age 6 to 18, and the Iskra Ensemble of advanced dancers. Special musical guests were operatic bass Stefan Szkafarowsky, accompanied by pianist Oles Kuzyszyn, who performed songs by Jerome Kern and Cole Porter from American musicals, as well as Ukrainian favorites.

Former UCCA President Tamara Olexy (right) with the first lady of Ukraine, Dr. Maryna Poroshenko, in Kyiv.

Outgoing president of UCCA reflects on challenges of her eight years in office

Tamara Olexy served two terms (eight years) as president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. The UCCA’s recent Congress of Ukrainian Americans elected Andriy Futey as her successor, and our Kyiv colleague Mark Raczkiewycz spoke with him via Skype about his new role (See “Newly elected president of UCCA speaks about the tasks ahead,” in the October 16 issue of The Ukrainian Weekly). This week, we publish an interview with Ms. Olexy focusing on the accomplishments and challenges of the previous eight years. The interview was conducted via e-mail by Roma Hadzewycz. 

Ms. Olexy holds a master’s degree in political science from The George Washington University; as an undergraduate student she double majored in political science and history at Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y. 

She served as the director of the Ukrainian National Information Service (1990-1995); was an American advisor for Burson-Marsteller’s National Market Reform Educational Project in Lviv (1995-1996); and worked as a consultant specializing in project development of health programs, cultural exchanges and humanitarian assistance for such clients as New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, the Albert Schweitzer Institute for Humanities, and conducted intercultural training programs designed for relocating employees for such companies as Prudential and CARTUS (1996-1998). Ms. Olexy has served as executive director of the UCCA National Office in New York since 1998. 

First of all, we’re curious, how did it feel to be the first woman president of the UCCA?

Singer Oksana Mukha of Lviv and the Dumka Chorus of New York perform at the 10th Ukrainian Cultural Festival.

Soyuzivka’s 10th Ukrainian Cultural Festival attracts thousands, despite rainy forecast

KERHONKSON, N.Y. – Undaunted by threatening skies, which eventually yielded to rain, over 3,000 visitors flocked to the Soyuzivka Heritage Center for the 10th Ukrainian Cultural Festival on July 8-10. Oksana Mukha of Lviv, and Kyivans Ivo Bobul (originally from Chernivtsi) and Viktor Pavlik (originally from Terebovlia, Ternopil Oblast) were the show’s headliners. They were joined by virtuoso violinist Vasyl Popadiuk, master bandurist Victor Mishalow and vocalist/musician Oleh Skrypka. Also on the bill were two perennial festival favorites, the Dumka Chorus of New York and the Roma Pryma Bohachevsky Ukrainian Dance Workshop, as well as the folk musicians known as Hurt Udech. License plates from various parts of the United States and Canada were spotted entering Soyuzivka: Nebraska, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Ontario and Quebec, and from the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Participants of the third conference of Ukrainian Journalists of North America.

Ukrainian Journalists of North America gather for third conference at Soyuzivka

KERHONKSON, N.Y. – The professional organization Ukrainian Journalists of North America (UJNA) held its third conference here at the Soyuzivka Heritage Center on May 20-22. The event brought together a group of journalists from the United States and Canada who represented various news media outlets – including Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly of Parsippany, N.J., Kontakt Ukrainian TV Network and Kontakt Ukrainian Media of Toronto, Ukrainian News of Edmonton, Alberta, The New Pathway of Toronto, Forum TV of Toronto, Nova Hazeta of Rego Park, N.Y., Chas i Podii of Chicago, as well as the Washington-based Voice of America, the Washington correspondent of the TV channel Ukrayina and free-lance writers. Elected to head the UJNA for the next two years were: President Jurij R Klufas (Toronto); Vice-President, U.S.A., Leo Iwaskiw (Philadelphia); Vice-President, Canada East, Walter Kish (Oshawa, Ontario); Vice-President, Canada West, Marco Levytsky (Edmonton); Vice-President, International Relations, Michael Bociurkiw (Sidney, British Columbia); Secretary/Treasurer Alexander Kharchenko (Toronto); and Immediate Past President Roma Hadzewycz (Morristown, N.J.). The 2012 conference’s keynote speaker was to be Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly, but he sent word that he would be unable to attend after all due to a visiting delegation from Ukraine. The ambassador forwarded a Ukrainian-language message to the UJNA in which he underscored that “journalism is a key factor in the development of democracy.” He cited the ongoing information war by the Kremlin against Ukraine, and underscored that it is journalists “who are the main defenders of our freedom on the information front, a firm foundation of the Ukrainian struggle in this hybrid war.”

“Ukraine is living through difficult times: the Revolution of Dignity, the Russian attempt to illegally annex Crimea, the horrible and perfidious war in the Donbas.

UNA’ers gathered for the annual meeting of the New Jersey District Committee.

New Jersey District Committee holds annual meeting at UNA Home Office

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – The New Jersey District Committee of the Ukrainian National Association held its annual meeting here at the UNA Home Office on Saturday, April 2. Representatives of UNA Branches 37, 42, 76, 133, 171, 269, 287 and 385 were in attendance. After lunch was served, District Chairman Oksana Stanko opened the proceedings by welcoming all to the meeting. Meeting participants voted a presidium consisting of Michael Koziupa as chairman and Stephan Welhasch as secretary. The UNA Executive Committee was represented by UNA First Vice-President Koziupa and Treasurer Roma Lisovich.

UNA General Assembly members Luba Poniatyszyn Keske (left) from California and Olya Czerkas (right) from Florida accept the Bethlehem Peace Light from the Rev. Dr. Ivan Kaszczak, pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church.

UNA advisors accept Peace Light to share in Florida and California

KERHONKSON, N.Y. – Two members of the UNA General Assembly who had traveled great distances to attend its annual meeting, Luba Poniatyszyn Keske from California and Olya Czerkas from Florida, accepted the flame from the Bethlehem Peace Light that had been brought to Kerhonkson, N.Y., by local members of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization. These Plast members and others had traveled to JFK International Airport, where the light was flown from Austria. The two UNA advisors accepted the Peace Light from the Rev. Dr. Ivan Kaszczak, pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church, after Sunday liturgy on December 13, 2015. Every year, Austrian scouts light a lantern from the eternal flame that burns in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and bring it to Vienna; scouts then share the light – a symbol of peace, hope and love with people around the globe. Plast scouts are among those who share the Bethlehem Peace Light with others in their communities.

Members of the UNA General Assembly – executive officers, auditors and advisors – at the opening of their 2015 annual meeting at Soyuzivka before the monument honoring Taras Shevchenko.

UNA General Assembly holds 2015 annual meeting

 

Marked growth reported in assets, income

KERHONKSON, N.Y. – The Ukrainian National Association’s General Assembly convened its first regular annual meeting since the UNA convention of 2014 at the Soyuzivka Heritage Center on Friday through Sunday, December 11-13. The General Assembly, which is the highest decision-making body of the UNA between its quadrennial conventions, reviewed the fraternal benefit society’s activity for the past year and adopted a plan of action for 2016. The weekend’s sessions were marked by good news about the UNA’s progress during 2015, including a significant increase in assets, which in the first nine months of the year topped $192 million and are expected to reach $200 million by year’s end. Reports were delivered by the three full-time executive officers of the UNA: President Stefan Kaczaraj, National Secretary Christine Kozak and Treasurer Roma Lisovich. All other General Assembly members – executive officers, advisors and auditors – as well as the editor-in-chief of the UNA’s official publications, Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly, had the opportunity to deliver addenda to their written reports.