A Holy Season Of Traditions

3 April 2015, 15:03 | Kaleidoscope-digest | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

Don Corrigan

3 April 2015 Webster Kirkwood Times

Old world customs, such as brightly colored Easter eggs and fine religious embroidery, will be much in evidence on Sunday at the Assumption Ukrainian Catholic Church in South County, but conflict in the old world will weigh on the minds of parishioners.

On Easter Sunday, Yuriy Safronov and his family will head to their church to sing, pray and implore God to help his brothers in a war-torn Ukraine.

"I will sing 'Christ Has Risen,' and that hymn has special meaning for me now," said Safronov of Ballwin, who sings with the choir. "The deaths of those fighting in Ukraine will hopefully lead to a resurrection of peace and freedom. We want peace."

Safronov will join parishioners from more than 30 families in the small church, which sits across from Bohrer County Park on the south side of Lindbergh Boulevard. A Kirkwood member, Myron Komarynsky, comes to the church to help collect cash and clothes for those caught in battles and turmoil in Ukraine.

"I will offer private prayers for my family members on Easter, who most fortunately don't live near the war zone," said Komarynsky. "I will pray for an end to the hostilities and for more aid for the people of Ukraine."

Some analysts have likened the conflict in Ukraine to a civil war between westward-looking citizens in the area of the capital, Kiev, and Ukrainians in the area of Donetsk, who look eastward with their ties to the old Soviet Union and Russia.

"We aren't calling it a civil war because it's all about Russia and Putin," said the Assumption Church's Father Eugene Logusch. "The Russian leader Vladimir Putin says Russia is not involved, but you cannot hide captured Russians, captured Russian weapons and military hardware.

"Another thing you cannot hide is the war crime of a Russian missile taking down a civilian aircraft over eastern Ukraine," said Logusch. "At some point, the world court must take action against those responsible for such a terrible loss of life."

Logusch referred to the downing of a jet airliner with 298 people aboard on July 17, 2014. Many of those killed were Dutch citizens whose bodies remained in farm fields in eastern Ukraine unattended for days because of hostilities in the area.

Not All War Talk

Though thoughts and prayers this Easter may focus on troubles in the old country, not all the conversation will be about embattled Ukraine. This is a holy season of traditions for those attending the Assumption Ukrainian Catholic Church.

This past Sunday, the traditional Palm Sunday for many Christian churches, was Pussy Willow Sunday at the church. A tradition in Poland and the Ukraine, Logusch said that pussy willows were always used in place of palms, which were hard to come by in Eastern Europe.

"The pussy willow also signified rebirth," said Logusch. "It is one of the first things to bloom in the spring and it is telling the other plants that it is time to wake up."

Of course, a better known tradition in the Ukraine involves the ancient practice of painting Easter eggs. The Soviet communists tried, without success, to stamp out the tradition of painting the hollow orbs with nature symbols and religious designs.

"They are present at all Easter celebrations, and will certainly be at this year's," said Komarynsky. "As a matter of fact, my wife once took up Easter egg painting as a hobby and soon was selling them in stores in Webster Groves. She still has a few of them."

Logusch said another tradition that will be in evidence on Easter Sunday is Ukrainian embroidery. The intricate embroidery designs are well-known throughout the world, and sometimes are used to celebrate the saints and will find use in church rituals.

As with the Ukrainian eggs, the commissars of the old Soviet Union attempted to quash the embroidery tradition as part of its "Russification." Ukrainians worked to document and protect the art form and are now at work reviving the practice.

Ukrainian Immigration

Ukrainian immigration has come to America and Missouri in several waves. According to Logusch, the first ones came to work as miners for lead in southeast Missouri. He said a number of descendants still live in the Park Hills area of Missouri.

Logusch said the Ku Klux Klan tormented the mining families during World War I, after they were accused of being loyal to the Austro-Hungary Empire rather than to America. Another wave came just after World War II, after Ukrainians forced to do labor for Hitler's Germany sought to come to America rather than return to a Ukraine that was in the grip of Russian leader Joseph Stalin.

More recently, Ukrainians found their way to America when travel restrictions were relaxed after the fall of the Soviet Union. Now, however, Ukrainian-Americans fear that Putin is trying to put the old Soviet Union back together by seizing Crimea and fomenting unrest in Ukraine.

"We are good Americans and part of the Catholic church," said Logusch. "Catholics from St. Louis churches come to pray with us about the situation in Ukraine. The St. Louis Catholic Review has been very supportive."

Logusch shakes his head when asked if another Cold War between America and Russia is in the offing. He said that war has already been renewed by the actions of Putin. He noted the number of treaties that Russia has abrogated, especially with regard to respecting the sovereignty of other nations.

"When the Soviet system collapsed, Ukraine was third – only to the U.S. and Russia – in its number of nuclear weapons," said Logusch. "Ukraine agreed to give the weapons up when Russia, Britain and America promised to respect and to protect Ukraine's sovereignty. So, what happened?"

Logusch said Putin has effectively torn up treaties, and he said Russia will come to regret those actions. He said that Russians only support Putin because he blames America for all the unrest and their own economic woes.

"We want peace, but we can only be pushed so far," said Safronov. "I was in the student hunger strikes in the 1990s in Ukraine, when we were seeking our independence. What my old student friends are dealing with now in Ukraine is much more dangerous."

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    • Slava43 | 12 August 2020, 15:35

      Закони, правила та угоди впрводжують щоби запобігти непорозумінням. Однак все в руках парафіян або завойовника як потвердила історія. Кажім, в Німеччині цілий ряд сіл та містечок були

    • bopa | 8 June 2020, 11:43

      То перераховані факти ви називаєте "фантазиями и ночными кошмарами"? Чому викладену інформацію ви "Очередная статья нижайшего интеллектуального уровня"? У вас

    • Slava43 | 4 June 2020, 13:46

      Це жодна агітація. На Буковині казали :»Мойше герехт, Сури герехт».

    • Slava43 | 4 June 2020, 13:39

      За часів союза, УПЦ підлягала моіковському патріярхату, примусово. Від незалежності УПЦ старалась отримати незалежність від Москви. Тепер, коли Україна має ТОМОС та незалежність то Лавру потрібно

    • Стефан | 2 June 2020, 15:54

      Последние события показали глубокий кризис РПЦ МП, где только отдельные редкие священнослужители твёрдо исповедуют Православную Веру, как схиигумен отец Сергий Романов, которого сейчас травят

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