Advocacy of Ukrainian American issues begins in earnest in new 115th Congress

WASHINGTON – The Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS), the Washington public affairs office of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), hit the ground running in the halls of Congress in the New Year. On January 3, all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and a third of the U.S. Senate were sworn in to the 115th Congress by their respective leaders. The traditional first day of a new congressional session provides a unique opportunity to visit with congressional offices as many of them have Open Houses for their constituents, policy-makers and guests. UNIS Director Michael Sawkiw Jr. attended several swearing-in ceremonies and subsequent receptions including those of: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus; Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.); Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.); Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.); newly elected Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.); newly elected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.); Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and newly elected Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), brother of former Congressional Ukrainian Caucus co-chair Mike Fitzpatrick. While at the receptions, Mr. Sawkiw highlighted the community’s concerns regarding assistance to Ukraine; continued sanctions against Russia for its lack of implementation of the Minsk peace accords; the illegal annexation of Crimea and human rights abuses in Crimea and eastern Ukraine; as well as continued economic assistance to Ukraine.

Rep. Sander Levin is flanked by Borys Potapenko (left) and Ostap Kryvdyk.

On Russia’s war in Ukraine and areas for increased U.S.-Ukraine cooperation

WASHINGTON – During the first week of the lame-duck session of Congress, Ostap Kryvdyk, adviser on international relations to Andriy Parubiy, chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, visited Washington and New York City. He was in the U.S. at the invitation of a number of American and Ukrainian American organizations and advocates, including the Organization for Defense of Four Freedoms for Ukraine (ODFFU), Center for U.S.-Ukrainian Relations (CUSR), Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) and the Ukrainian Federation of America (UFA). Mr. Kryvdyk was accompanied to many of the meetings by Ukrainian American community representatives Iryna Mazur and Borys Potapenko, as well as by Ukrainian Embassy staff. They met with senior staff of the co-chairs of Congressional Ukrainian Caucus and the Senate Ukraine Caucus, including Reps. Sander Levin (R-Mich.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Sens.

Aid to Ukraine: the needs are enormous

Humanitarian aid for Ukraine has been implemented from both sides, internally by the citizens of Ukraine and externally by the Ukrainian diaspora. Ukraine is a country in the midst of war, economic change and social upheaval. As a result, the old social safety net has been broken, but a new one has not been developed to address pressing social needs. Although, more reforms have been initiated in Ukraine in the last two years than in the previous 23 combined, the toxic mix of war and corruption, despite abating in some sectors, continues to create a dire need for humanitarian aid. Unfortunately this reality for Ukraine has not changed since it achieved independence in 1991.

Ksenia Hapij speaks before Ukrainian Catholic bishops at their synod in Briukhovychi, Ukraine, on September 5.

Speaking of charitable projects during the Church’s Year of Mercy

Every year, Ukrainian Catholic bishops from all over the world gather together for a weeklong synod.  The 2016 synod was held in the town of Briukhovychi, not far from Lviv. Every synod has a main theme that guides the discussions and this year, because this is the Year of Mercy, the bishops chose to focus on the ministry of the Church. The bishops addressed many angles of this ministry, but they also wanted to hear about the charitable ventures of a Ukrainian Catholic church beyond the boundaries of Ukraine. St. John’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Newark, N.J., runs numerous charitable projects and the bishops asked Ksenia Hapij to speak to the synod about what the parish does and how it accomplishes its work.

Remarks by Patriarch Sviatoslav

Following are excerpts of remarks by Patriarch Sviatoslav at the Sheptytsky Institute banquet on September 28 at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. A little over two years ago we were gathered here in this very Canada Room to support the Sheptytsky Institute, while reflecting together on the still fresh events of the Revolution of Dignity in which the various faith communities of Ukraine worked together to support a nation in its struggle for effective justice and true freedom. Ukrainian Greek-Catholics stood together with Roman Catholics, Protestants, the various Orthodox Churches of Ukraine, as well as Jews and Muslims. Together we prayed. This prayer was accompanied by spontaneous acts of incredible love and generosity.

The signing on September 28 of the historic agreement marking the relocation of the Sheptytsky Institute to Toronto. MASIF President Andrew Hladyshevsky and University of St. Michael’s College President David Mulroney sign the Memorandum of Agreement. Looking on are: Paul Grod, Father Andriy Chirovsky, Father Peter Galadza, Bishop Bryan Bayda, Patriarch Sviatoslav, Cardinal Thomas Collins, Bishop Stephen Chmilar, USMC Faculty of Theology Dean James Ginther, USMC Chief Administrative Officer Effie Slapcinar and Former Dean of Theology Father Mario D’Souza.

Sheptytsky Institute to move from Ottawa to Toronto

OTTAWA – The University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto (USMC) has come to an agreement with the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute Foundation (MASIF) about the relocation of the Sheptytsky Institute from Ottawa to Toronto, as an autonomous academic unit within the Faculty of Theology. The Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (MASI) was founded by Father Andriy Chirovsky in 1986 at Catholic Theological Union, a graduate school of ministry in Chicago. In 1990, at the request of the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops of Canada, this institute relocated to Ottawa’s St. Paul University, where it developed programs in Eastern Christian Studies from the undergraduate certificate through the bachelor’s, master’s licentiate and doctoral levels.

Screenshot of a page from the website

A Holodomor information outreach project continues to deliver

During this year’s peak period for school reports, March through June, the Holodomor information website received approximately 75,000 visits. Was it 75,000 people in four months? Or more likely, 10,000 to 15,000 who came back multiple times because they kept finding things worth returning to? In either case, the growing popularity of the website for users throughout the English-speaking world is a telling indicator. There is obvious interest and a very real need for an online guide to Holodomor resources that are authentic; comprehensible to the general public and students of varying ages and backgrounds; that meet today’s educational standards; and are readily accessible to a social media-savvy population.

The Communications Styles and Leadership Skills Workshop for Peace Corps “Camp Heal” in the forest region of Volyn.

At U.S. Embassy workshops, Ukrainians discover their communications styles

2016 was declared by President Petro Poroshenko to be the Year of the English Language in Ukraine. To highlight the president’s resolution, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv invited this writer to design and lead a series of workshops in “Communications Styles and Leadership.”

A workshop is an active learning process. I don’t tell the participants about leadership and communications styles, I take them on a journey of self-discovery. Everyone has a communications style or pattern. The tendency is to have a bias toward one’s own style without being aware one has one.

Beginning the Tribute Walk from Patronage of the Mother of God (St. Mary’s) Ukrainian Catholic Church in McAdoo, Pa.

Long walk honors Ukrainian church’s history

MCADOO, Pa. – In the late 1890s, there was no Greek-Catholic church in the McAdoo area, so the faithful would hike to Shenandoah, Pa., in honor of their creator. On Saturday, September 17, parishioners re-created this walk in honor of the 125th anniversary of the Patronage of the Mother of God (St. Mary’s) Ukrainian Catholic Church, located at 210 W. Blaine St. in McAdoo.