Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merry Christmas and a happy Holiday Season

We would like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and most joyous Holiday Season, and best wishes for the coming year.  May your family prosper and your hearts be filled with love.  We are deeply grateful for your support, generosity, and your commitment to the Carpatho-Rusyn Society.

This year has been very busy for us at the Cultural Center.  We were able to resolve borough tax issues by meeting with Munhall officials and explaining the mission of the C-RS.  They waived our outstanding interest fees, saving us close to $3,000.  We were able to work with Allegheny County to reduce the lien on our center from over $7,000 to a little over $2,000.  The Steel Valley Board waived the interest on our outstanding taxes by over $11,000.  We are happy to report to you that on April 6, 2010, all our inherited back taxes were paid off.  

We have begun hosting events, exhibits, and activities.  The sing-along program was well-attended and we are hoping to continue with this program again in the spring.  Also, the first ever dance (zabava) a our center was a real success.   A presentation about the oldest Rusyn parish in western Pennsylvania, St. Nicholas Church in Duquesne, PA was very well received.    We have begun painstakingly cataloging donated items and purchasing archival materials to store those items.

We continue making improvement to the center.  The heavy snow in the winter caused major water damage that we repaired.  We  purchased new tables and chairs and started waterproofing the basement and we now have enough funds to have a handicapped access ramp installed.

None of this would have been possible without your generous support, encouragement, commitment, and dedication of our Board of Directors.

Thank you very much.

Written by:  Maryann Sivak,

Monday, November 8, 2010


Jerry Jumba leading the sing-along
Please join us for this week's Christmas sing-along with Jerry Jumba.  We have only two sessions remaining:  Wednesday, November 10th and Wednesday, November 17th.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. at the Cultural Center, 915 Dickson Street in Munhall.  Admission in only $5.00 per person.

We've been having a great time singing together.  If you're in the Pittsburgh area, or plan to be here on the next two Wednesday nights, please come to the Cultural Center and sing with us!

Come and join the fun.  We can assure you that your voice is divine and you are exceptionally good-looking.  Everyone will be thrilled that you are here.

For further information please call 412-567-3077 or e-mail:  Maryann Sivak at

Written by:  Maryann Sivak (

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rusyn Festivities

Rus'kyj Muzikanty
Photo courtesy of Christina Duranko

On October 16th, the Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural Center came alive with an exciting array of Rusyn activities.  We enjoyed live folk music by Rus'kyj Muzikanty.  There were beautiful Rusyn crafts and entertaining children's activities.  Local Rusyn organizations and independent vendors offered a variety of merchandise.  There were educational and decorative items, books, CDs, DVDs, folk items, jewelry, clothing and more.  Delicious pastries and a variety of Rusyn foods appealed to just about every taste.

Paul Warhola art
A cleverly-designed exhibit featuring the art of Paul Warhola was the centerpiece of the event.  This was complimented by a display of Rusyn folk costumes and paintings of Spiš County in Slovakia.  We were thrilled when Paul Warhola actually stopped by with his wife and daughter for a brief visit.

Exhibit designed by Maria Silvestri
Ted Zatkovich and Connie Ash, children of the first governor of Subcarpathian Rus, gave a moving account of his life.  Gregory Zatkovich was a Pittsburgh attorney who was selected by the Wilson Administration to head the autonomous region at the very creation of Czechoslovakia.   He served for several years before returning to practice law in the US.
Left to right:  Paul Warhola, Connie  Ash, and Ted Zatkovich

Following their presentation we held our annual meeting, which was very informative and brief.

In the evening we hosted a zabava (dance party), learned Rusyn dances, and continued to enjoy good friends, good food, and good bottled water.  And other things.  It was a wonderful way to end the day.  Thank you all for coming.  And for those of you who could not attend, we hope you will join us next October.

Written by:  Maryann Sivak (

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Exhibit Virtual Tour: Spiš Regional Folk Costume [Part 1]

Over the next week or so, I'll be posting photos, text and some videos so that folks who couldn't make it to Pittsburgh for the event can see the exhibits as well as possible.  This should be fun, as there are some things that can be done virtually that can't be done in real life, which should make up for you staring at a computer screen.

Until the 13th century Spiš County of north central Hungary (today in east central Slovakia) was sparsely populated and was a part of the territory known as “No Man’s Land.” In the late 1200s and 1300s, the Hungarian government invited populations from the West – Germans and Slovaks — and those from the East – Carpatho-Rusyns — to settle this rocky, mountainous region.  These three populations were joined by Roma (Gypsies), Jews and Poles known as “Gorale” to make Spiš one of the most ethnically diverse regions of old Austria-Hungary.
The folk costumes of the Rusyns in Spiš are influenced by cloth making and decorative techniques refined by and brought by the Germans to this region. Germans brought with them advanced dyeing techniques, which made brilliantly colored cloth possible. They also brought with them lace making styles that added lace to many of the costumes of this region.
Two costume components distinct to Spiš county among Rusyns are the use of batiked cloth – placing beeswax on white cloth and then dying it blue, removing the wax to reveal the pattern underneath; and the use of red threads stitched very closely to one another to create large areas of vibrant red color in embroidery.
John Righetti

Torysky / Торискы - on loan from the collection of Walter and Anna Orange
Kojšov / Койшов - on loan from the collection of Ann and Joe Lesko
Sleeve detail from Kojšov kroj
Jakubany / Якубяны - on loan from the collection of Maryann Sivak
Skirt and apron detail from Jakubany kroj
Litmanová / Лiтманова (left) and Jarabina / Орябина (right) - Litmanova kroj C-RS Collection donated by Stephanie Salony, Orjabyna kroj on loan from the collection of Rita Benya
Cuff detail from Litmanová kroj

View Spiš Regional Folk Costume in a larger map

Special thanks to Barbara Perlstein for her help in completing this display, and to everyone who was so generous to loan their kroj. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What Else to Do While You're in Pittsburgh

There are lots of events happening in Pittsburgh next weekend that coincide with the Rusyn Fall Fest celebrating Carpatho-Rusyn Heritage at the National Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural and Educational Center!

If you're arriving early, Saint Elias Byzantine Catholic Church in Munhall is having a fish fry on Friday, October 15 from 11am to 3pm -- this is one of the best local fish fries, with hand-battered fish!  They're having an Oktoberfest on Satuday the 16th and Sunday the 17th as well.  AND, just two blocks from the Cultural Center, Saint Nicholas Carpatho-Russian Orthdox Church will be having their Fall Festival also on the 15th, 16th and 17th.

The main Carpatho-Rusyn events are on Saturday, and are already detailed on this blog and on the C-RS site.

If you're coming from out of town and are interested in exploring Pittsburgh further, Sunday the 17th is the last night of the Pittsburgh Festival of Lights downtown on Penn Avenue.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Press release

When:                     October 16, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. till 10:00 p.m.
What:                      Rusyn Fest/Annual meeting/Rusyn Day
Where:                    Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural and Educational Center
                                 915 Dickson Street, Munhall, PA 15120

Warhol  Family art, children of first Rusyn governor, international leaders  to highlight celebration of first Carpatho-Rusyn Day.  The children of the first governor of Subcarpathian Rus’ and  original art work done by members of Andy Warhol’s family will be among the highlights of the first International Carpatho-Rusyn Day.

The local version of this international celebration will be held on Sat. Oct 16 from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. at the National Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural and Educational Center , 915 Dickson St in Munhall, PA.

Carpatho-Rusyn Day was created by the World Council of Rusyns, the international body which oversees Carpatho-Rusyn cultural development worldwide. For Carpatho-Rusyn Day, every Rusyn cultural organization in the world is to create an event dedicated to achieving recognition of Carpatho-Rusyns and their contributions to world culture. The events of Oct. 16 are sponsored by the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, a North American cultural organization based in Pittsburgh.

“Our celebration of Carpatho-Rusyn Day has a wide array of Rusyn activities that would appeal to both Carpatho-Rusyns and the general public, which was our intention,” said John Righetti, National President of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society and  the North American representative to the World Council of Rusyns.

The day starts with the Rusyn Fall Festival which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Local Rusyn organizations and vendors will have Rusyn food and pastries for sale. The Center’s Carpatho-Rusyn Marketplace gift shop will be open and feature a variety of Rusyn educational and decorative items – books, CDs, DVDs, folk craft items , jewelry, clothing and more. Other local vendors will be selling a wide variety of international and local goods as well.

Throughout the  day , the public will be able to browse the Center’s new exhibits  which will include the ONE DAY ONLY exhibit of the art of the Warhola Family – a display of traditional and nontraditional artwork by pop artist  Andy Warhol’s relatives, including his brother , niece and nephews and sister-in-law. Andy Warhol was of Carpatho-Rusyn heritage.

Also unveiled will be a display of Rusyn costumes of Spis county in Slovakia and a display of highlight items  of the Cultural Center’s European and American Rusyn artistic and historical collections. These will join an existing display on the governor of Subcarpathian Rus’, Gregory Zatkovich, a Homestead lawyer who returned to the Rusyn homeland to become its first governor when it joined Czechoslovakia in 1919.

At 4 p.m. the Carpatho-Rusyn Society will hold its annual meeting. Guest speakers will be Ted Zatkovich Gregg and Connie Zatkovich Ash, children of Gregory Zatkovich.

From 6 – 10 p.m. the Carpatho-Rusyn Society will host a Zabava or Rusyn Dance party featuring the noted Rusyn band Ruskyj Muzikanty of Pittsburgh. Dean Poloka of the Slavjane Ensemble of McKees Rocks will teach basic Rusyn dancing to those unfamiliar. Rusyn food and beverages will be for sale. An admission charge of $5.00 for those 18 and older; all children are free.

For more information on Carpatho-Rusyn Day and the festivities, e-mail or call 412-567-307

(Written by John Righetti, President of the C-RS)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Upcoming Event: Carpatho-Rusyn Day

Rusyn Fall Festival with Rusyn food vendors, artisans, and ethnic items
Rusyn Costumes from Spiš County
ONE DAY ONLY art exhibit "Paul Warhola's Family"

C-RS Annual Meeting with guest speakers
Ted Zatkovich Gregg and Connie Zatkovich Ash - children of the first governor of Subcarpathian Rus'

RUSYN DANCE PARTY with Rus'kyj Muzikanty. Rusyn dance instruction available from Slavjane's Dean Poloka. Rusyn food and drink for sale. BYOB.

For more information call 412-567-3077 or e-mail

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rusyn Sing-along

Six-week Rusyn Sing-along with Jerry Jumba.   Wednesday sessions starting  October 6, 2010

Please join us for this 6-week session starting on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at our Cultural Center at 915 Dickson Street in Munhall.  The fee is only $5.00/session.  Song sheets will be provided.

Back by popular demand we are pleased to offer you again this fall six weeks of sing-along with Jerry Jumba.  We will learn Christmas carols as well as popular liturgical songs our ancestors loved so much.

Jerry is a well-known cantor, singer and musician.  A graduate of the Duquesne University Department of Music, Jerry spent most of his life collecting and translating Rusyn songs.  He has also painstakingly translated most of them into English. 

For further information please call 412-567-3077 or e-mail
Maryann Sivak at

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rusyn Heritage Dinner

Rusyn Heritage Dinner
Saturday, September 18, 2010
First National Russian Hall
4 Woodhull  Avenue
Little Falls (Singac), NJ 07424-1159
Time:  1-5 p.m.

Please come and join us for the New Jersey Chapter’s  Rusyn Heritage Dinner. It will be held on Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. at the First National Russian Hall.   John Righetti, President of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society will offer his reflections on growing up in a Rusyn-American home.  Maryann Sivak will talk about her experiences growing up in Rusyn households in Czechoslovakia and later in America.  She will also deliver a powerpoint presentation on the Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural Center –past and present.

The price of the event is $32.50 for members and $37.50 for guests.
The price for children 6-12 years old is $15.00.

For further information, call Joyce Barr (973) 540-0871 or e-mail

Thursday, August 19, 2010


St. Nicholas Church, Duquesne, PA
Please join us Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at our center.  We will present a talk by Father David Lesko, pastor and historian of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Duquesne, Pennsylvania.

St. Nicholas
On the occasion of its 120th anniversary we have invited Fr. David, the current and longest-serving (since 1973) pastor, to chronicle its documented history.  The parish was founded in 1890 as a Greek Catholic Church.  It has witnessed the growth and decline of the steel industry in the Mon Valley and has experienced a complex jurisdictional history.  Fr. David will talk about the fascinating history of his parish, the oldest Carpatho-Rusyn church community in western Pennsylvania.  Founded in 1890, the parish has been served by major figures in Rusyn ecclesiastical history.  These include Fr. Aleksander  (later Bishop Stephen) Dzubaj, Stephen Jackovich, and (later Metropolitan) Orestes Chornock.  The church has experienced a fascinating history of affiliations - Greek Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Carpatho-Russian Orthodox, and finally the Metropolia/Orthodox Church in America.

In 1990, in observance of the parish's 100th anniversary, Fr. David researched and wrote Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church Centennial Commemoration.

Written by: John Schweich, C-RS Board Trustee.

Friday, August 13, 2010

FOR SALE: Pews, tables, and chairs

As we see more activities being held at our center, we realize that we need more room.  We have decided, therefore, to sell about 12 pews and all the pedestal tables along with chairs that we have inherited from the former St. John's Byzantine Catholic Cathedral.
Pews 9' long

Pedestal Table and Chairs
The pews are about 9' long and are for sale at only $75.00 each.  The pedestal tables are 34" each side and sell for $15.00 each.  The wooden chairs are only $5.00 each.

Please call Maryann at 412-567-3077 or e-mail me at  If you are interested or know of someone or some group who might be interested in purchasing any of these items, please ask them to contact me.

Thank you

Written by:   Maryann Sivak (

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zabava press coverage

We got some great press the morning after our zabava last Friday - you can read all about it below (aj verziu po slovensky!):

At Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural Center: Slovak mayor enjoys dance

V Kultúrnom centre karpatských Rusínov

Slovenský primátor má rád tanečnú zábavu

Napísala Kelly Fennessy
reportérka Daily News

Kultúrne centrum v meste Munhall získava vďaka špeciálnemu hosťovi medzinárodné uznanie.

Takmer 100 ľudí prišlo v piatok večer do budovy Národného kultúrneho a vzdelávacieho centra karpatských Rusínov na Dickson Street na úplne prvú typickú rusínsku tanečnú zábavu.

Zábavy sa zúčastnil aj špeciálny hosť, primátor slovenského mesta Prešov Pavel Hagyari, ktorý svojou zastávkou v tomto centre zakončil svoju šesťdňovú návštevu regiónu mesta Pittsburgh. Prešov a Pittsburgh sú partnerskými mestami.

„Je nádherné stretnúť tak ďaleko od svojej domoviny takých fantastických ľudí, ktorí majú svoje korene v Európe,“ povedal pán Hagyari. „Pittsburgh je také nádherné mesto.“

Povedal, že jeho prastrýko sa prisťahoval do Pittsburghu na konci 19. storočia, a preto má v tomto regióne mnoho príbuzných. Povedal, že si vychutnal návštevu „Slovenského hlavného mesta Spojených štátov.“

Slávnostného večera sa zúčastnil aj primátor mesta Munhall Raymond Bodnar, ktorý vyslovil potešenie zo stretnutia s pánom Hagyarim. Pán Bodnar povedal, že mesto Prešov navštívil a mal možnosť spoznať tamojšiu kultúru.

„Som rád, že sa nám naskytla príležitosť pozdraviť pána Hagyriho a presvedčiť ho o našej pohostinnosti,“ povedal pán Bodnar. „Kedykoľvek nás bude chcieť opäť navštíviť, radi ho znova privítame.“

Počas večera učil choreograf folklórneho súboru Slavjane pán Dean Poloka účastníkov tancovať rusínske tance a spolu si zaspievali aj národnú rusínsku hymnu „Ja som bol Rusín, som a vždy budem [Я Русин был, єсмь, и буду]“.

Toto podujatie bolo prvé svojho druhu a organizátori dúfajú, že sa bude konať každé dva mesiace. Vedúca kultúrneho centra Maryann Sivak povedala, že bola s priebehom podujatia spokojná a potešilo ju, že sa ho mohli zúčastniť obidvaja primátori.

„Týmto sa snažíme odvďačiť komunite mesta Munhall,“ povedala. „Pán primátor Bodnar je fantastický, skutočne sa zaujíma o celú oblasť a nás.“

Centrum otvorilo svoje dvere v roku 2006, čo bolo dva roky po tom, ako Karpato-Rusinske Obščestvo kúpila bývalý gréckokatolícky cirkev Sv. Jána a premenila ho na miesto konania stretnutí.

Karpatskí Rusíni prišli zo strednej Európy, pričom ich domovina sa rozprestiera na južných a severných svahoch Karpát, na miestach, kde sa stretávajú hranice Ukrajiny, Slovenska a Poľska. Karpatskí Rusíni nikdy nemali svoj vlastný štát a od šiesteho storočia vždy žili ako národnostná menšina.

Karpato-Rusinske Obščestvo si za svoje centrum vybralo mesto Munhall, pretože mnoho Rusínov sa usadilo v údolí rieky Monongahela, a to v celom tomto regióne začínajúc od mesta Duquesne.

Zo 600 000 Rusínov žijúcich v Spojených štátoch amerických ich takmer 60 000 žije v Pensylvánii.

Pán Bodnar povedal, že ho teší skutočnosť, že sa skupina usadila v meste Munhall a zaviazal sa poskytnúť im maximálnu možnú podporu. „Ide o fantastickú vec,“ povedal.

Fotografia – Kelly Fennessy/Daily News

Choreograf folklórneho súboru Slavjane Dean Poloka (v strede) učí účastníkov zostavy jednoduchých rusínskych tancov počas piatkového večera v Národnom kultúrnom a vzdelávacom centre karpatských Rusínov v meste Munhall.

Vedúca Národného kultúrneho a vzdelávacieho centra karpatských Rusínov v meste Munhall Maryann Sivak odovzdáva symbol uznania primátorovi mesta Prešov Pavlovi Hagyarimu (vľavo). Prizerá sa primátor mesta Munhall Raymond Bodnar.

Vydanie tohto článku inde je dovolené. Je ale potrebné o tom informovať na adrese

Monday, July 19, 2010

Zabava (Dance)

Nearly a hundred people gathered at our cultural center on Friday, July 16, 2010 for our first ever zabava.   The evening featured Rusyn music, dance, and plenty of food.  Happily it also attracted an unusually large number of "under twenty-somethings."

Mayors Pavel Hagyari and Raymond Bodnar
We were fortunate in having not one, but three honored guests:  Mr. Raymond Bodnar,  Mayor of Munhall, PA; Mr. Pavel Hagyari, Mayor of Presov, Slovakia; and Mr. Joe Senko,  Honorary Consul of the Slovak Republic in Pennsylvania.  Of course, since it was a dance, we suspect they were brought by their wives. 
Welcoming Senkos with bread and salt

Rus'kyj Muzikanty with Jerry Jumba

Rus'kyj Muzikanty ( provided lively music throughout the evening.  This folk group, which specializes in authentic Rusyn melodies, includes Jerry Jumba on accordion, Bob Bartko on acoustic guitar, Mike Liberatore on electric guitar, Dana Leasure on violin (fiddle to you Charlie Daniels fans), Brian Bartko on cymbali, and a guest appearance by a percussionist whose name I would be happy to mention had he given it to me.   Dean Poloka set up the sound system and stepped in with his mandolin whenever he wasn't dancing.

Dean leading our guests in a karichka
Mr. and Mrs. Hagyari waltzing
Dean, choreographer in residence of Slavjane, taught  Rusyn dance steps to those of our guests who were brave enough to try them on.  They burned up the floor with czardashes, karichkas, chapashs, and polkas.  Later on, in a throw-back to old Austria-Hungary, the band played a waltz for Mayor Hagyari and his wife as they took the floor.

Mayor Bodnar presenting Indian pin
What event featuring prominent politicians would be complete without some heart-felt speeches?  The evening had its share.  Mayor Bodnar presented his counterpart with a Indian pin symbolic of the Munhall mascot.  Maryann Sivak, Chairman of the Cultural Center Committee, presented a wood-burned plaque showing the building's facade to Mayor Hagyari.  Mayor Hagyari then addressed the crowd saying that his great uncle had emigrated to the States and he had many relatives here.  Since Presov is a sister city to Pittsburgh, he had spent a week in the area.  This evening's zabava was his last event before returning home.  He was very pleased that  Rusyn culture is prospering in America. 

Mary Huzinec and Alexandra

Christy Slifkey and Alexandra
Keri Poloka
Beth Poloka Liberatore
The evening was a great success, due in large part, as always, to the efforts of our volunteers.  The previous day, Christy Slifkey and her daughter Alexandra, Mary Huzinec and her daughter, also Alexandra, and Ann Swanson, with no daughter named Alexandra,  helped prepare the building for the dance.  John Righetti, C-RS President, correctly pointed out that our people require more than cheese and crackers to really have a party.  He prepared a roaster full of kolbassi and saurkraut and provided the buns to go with them.  Keri Poloka  and Beth Poloka Liberatore managed the food and drink tables.  Kerri's children Nick and Mickayla did whatever she told them to, both selling kolbassi (Jack would have been proud)  and helping with clean-up afterward.  John Schweich cheerfully collected everybody's money as they entered. 

Mike Vasilchek and John Schweich
Thank you all for coming.  Remember to mark your calendars for Saturday, October 16th.   This will be an all-day event featuring Rusyn Fest III, our annual meeting, and a spirited zabava to conclude the evening.

Written by:  Maryann Sivak (

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Event:  Rusyn Zabava (Dance)
When:  Friday, July 16, 2010
Time:   7:00 p.m.
Where:  Carpatho-Rusyn Society
            915 Dickson Street, Munhall, PA 
Phone:  412-567-3077
After a successful summer sing-along program with Jerry Jumba, we thought you would enjoy learning Rusyn dances to the tunes of his wonderful accordion and Bob Bartko’s guitar.

On Jul 16th the C-RS National, in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Chapter, will be hosting a summer dance at the Cultural Center in Munhall.  Admission to this, our first zabava, will be $5.00 per person.  With your suppport, we hope that this will be the first of many.  We will be delighted to see you there.

We are pleased to announce that the mayor of Presov, Slovakia, and his wife will also be attending this dance.  Presov is Pittsburgh’s sister city.  John Righetti and I first met Mayor Hagyari at a Rusyn masquerade ball in February of 2009.  That evening he mentioned a possible trip to Pittsburgh.   Naturally, we invited him to come and tour our center.  We are very pleased that he did remember and are looking forward to his visit.

For those eager to learn authentic Rusyn dance steps, Dean Poloka will offer demonstrations.  You will also have the opportunity to practice steps before going on the floor.

Dean started his career with Slavjane in 1976 and was a member of the dance troupe for 13 years.  He won a Duquesne University Tamburitzans scholarship in 1989.  He has instructed and performed for several Junior Tamburitzan groups and the Pittsburgh International Folk Theater (PIFT).   With grants from the Carpatho-Rusyn Society and the Slavjane, Dean has studied traditional Carpatho-Rusyn dance styling and choreography with the well-known Sarisan, PUL'S, Dubrava, and Folklorny Subor Saris.  He is presently director and choreographer of Slavjane.

So please come and dance with us on July 16th.  This could be a great opportunity to show Dean's Slavjane youngsters that real fun begins after high school.

Written by:  Maryann Sivak (

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Rusyn Sing-along with Jerry Jumba

On  June 24th we concluded our first Rusyn sing-along program with Jerry Jumba.  This 5-week session has been tremendously successful.  In fact, so successful that we have received numerous requests to start a new session.  We have averaged about 12 students at each class.  Jerry, who is an excellent teacher, taught us the Rusyn words and provided corresponding translations, which was a great help.  We were finally able to  sing the Rusyn songs that our ancestors loved so much. We learned not only some very colorful and humorous songs but also some liturgical old-slovanic songs. 

As John Schweich, C-RS trustee, said after he attended one of the sessions:  Aside from the benefit of witnessing a performance of  The Master Musicologist of Rusyn folk music, the sessions allow you to sing (and thereby speak) Rusyn in an anonymous,  "choral" setting without the pain of being stared at , so common in traditional spoken language classes.  Participating in the sing-along allows you experience the pronunciation and lively rhythms of colloquial contemporary Rusyn.

Thanks to all of you who came and made our event so successful.

Written by:  Maryann Sivak (

Monday, June 7, 2010

Unsung Heros

Most of the renovations done at the center were underwritten by an unbelievably generous couple who decided to visit the building one day on their way to South Carolina. With their initial donation we were able to clear the debris on the roof and fix major leaks. One year later they again came to visit, and after seeing our progress, made an additional contribution. With that money we were able to replaster and paint the interior walls. We thought of naming the center after this couple, but decided that “The Anonymous Cathedral” sounded too much like the setting of a Sherlock Holmes mystery.

The C-RS Youngstown-Warren-Sharon Chapter and the Cleveland Chapter have been very supportive of our center. They have made annual donations from their proceeds from the Vatra they hold every fall in Boardman, Ohio. Thanks to these contributions, we have been able to fix our floors and purchase a professional quality dehumidifier. This dehumidifier is essential for preserving our archival materials. And you thought only our 15th anniversary pirohy could last forever.

In 2007, Jozef Jurista, a structural engineer from Bardejov Slovakia spent 3 months improving our center. He diverted rain water away from the foundation, repointed the chimney and made other improvements too numerous to mention. Thanks to Jozef, we were able at last to start hosting functions at the center.

 The first program we offered was a high energy performance by the contemporary Rusyn musical group Vox Ethnika, ( led by Jurko and Sylvia Matolak. By the way their excellent CDs are available for purchase by e-mailing Cathy Silvestri at:

We will continue this story of “unsung heroes” in the next installment.

Written by : Maryann Sivak (

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sing Along with Jerry Jumba: Week 4

We've been having a great time singing together. If you're in the Pittsburgh area, or are planning to be, on the next two Thursday nights, please plan on coming to the Cultural Center to sing with us!

Here's some video from last night, with the words so that you can sing along:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rusyn Sing Along

Dear Friends,

Please join us this Thursday for a sing along with Jerry Jumba. Learn Rusyn songs you love but don’t know the words to, in both Rusyn and English! The fee is only $5.00/session. Song sheets will be provided.

Learn to sing the Rusyn songs that our ancestors loved so much. Most of these songs are very colorful and humorous. This kind of creative expression was a means of relieving stress and forgetting the hardship in their lives.

Please come and join the fun whether you think you can sing or not. We can assure you that your voice is divine.

For further information please call 412-567-3077 or e-mail: Maryann Sivak at

When: Thursday, June 3rd at 6:30 p.m.
Where: C-RS Cultural and Educational Center,
915 Dickson Street, Munhall, PA

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sing Along with Jerry Jumba

For six weeks, Jerry Jumba will be conducting a sing along on Thursday evenings at 6:30PM at the Cultural Center.  Come learn Rusyn songs you love but don't know the words to, in both Rusyn and English!

See what you're missing:

We hope to see you there next week!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cultural Center (Continued from May 2, 2010)

When our ancestors came to America, they had very little.  They labored ceaselessly so that their descendants would have a better life.   This center is a tribute to them and to their children and grandchildren who saw to it that there is a lasting memory of their sacrifice.

Our people work hard for their money and are very selective with their donations.  However, they are always generous when it comes to giving advice on how we should spend those funds. Naturally, there is much to be said for listening to those willing to become donors.  

We have decided, therefore, to take advantage of their spirit of generosity.  Both kinds.  We have learned to seek out our members whenever we need assistance.  This approach has paid off for us.  With relatively limited funding we were able to make the center functional in 2 years, operational in 3, and self-sustaining in 4.

How we did it

While we have hired some help, most of the work has been done by volunteers.

Due to the enormous challenge of making the center functional, it was necessary to create subcommittees and apportion the work as appropriate.

Stay tuned to this blog for the next exciting installment of  “How We Did What We Did.”

(Posted by Maryann Sivak

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


On Sunday, May 16th the cultural center was visited by a tour group from Warren, Ohio.  Our visitors were from St. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church.  Their original intention was to attend an ordination ceremony in Munhall.  The quick thinking president of the Youngstown-Warren-Sharon Chapter, Jim Basista,  realized this was a golden opportunity to introduce the parishioners to Rusyn culture.

He cleverly diverted the bus to our center, where we conveniently had nut and pumpkin rolls waiting.   Perhaps because they were hungry after their long ride, they agreed to hear a spirited, albeit, short lecture on the virtues of  being Rusyn.  Even though most were of other ethnicities, many patronized our gift shop so at least a tiny corner of their houses would become Rusyn. 

One of the ladies told us her family was from Naples.  We hopefully explained that with that famous mountain overlooking their town, it was geologically part of Ruthenia.   And what did she think inspired Respighi to compose The Pines of Rome?   She may not have bought it, but she did not deny it, either.  Another convert!

(Posted by: Maryann Sivak,

Friday, May 14, 2010


Five-week Rusyn Sing Along with Jerry Jumba.   Thursday sessions starting  May 20, 2010

Please join us for this 5-week session starting on Thursday, May 2010 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at our Cultural Center at 915 Dickson Street in Munhall.  The fee is only $5.00/session.  Song sheets will be provided.

Learn to sing the Rusyn songs that our ancestors loved so much.  Most of these songs are very colorful and humorous. This kind of creative expression was a means of relieving stress and forgetting the hardship in their lives.

This will be taught by the well-known  singer and musician Jerry Jumba.  A graduate of the Duquesne University Department of Music, Jerry spent most of his life collecting and translating Rusyn songs.  He has also painstakingly translated most of them into English. 

For further information please call 412-567-3077 or e-mail
Maryann Sivak at

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cultural Center

It was six years ago that the Carpatho-Rusyn Society (C-RS) purchased the former St. John’s Byzantine Catholic Cathedral to create a museum and educational center for the promotion of our culture.  It had been built in 1903 exclusively for Rusyn immigrants.  When our ancestors came to America, they had nothing.  They worked very hard so that their descendants would have a better life.  They also cared for the homeland they left behind.  That’s why, on July 23, 1918, Rusyn-American leaders met at our center.   There they recommended that Podkarpatska Rus join the newly established republic of Czechoslovakia.  This was so the people they had left behind would enjoy the freedom and autonomy promised by President Wilson in his famous 14 points of self- determination.

What was wrong and what we did
By the time the C-RS acquired the building, it had been vacant for 11 years and was in need of an extreme makeover.

Rotted gutters 
The roof leaked badly, and although the pigeons seemed to enjoy the easy access, it was hardly a fit habitat for humanity.   Old large rusty air conditioning units on the roof needed to be removed.  The gutters were rotted providing an inviting entrance for the pigeons.  The chimney was on the verge to collapse.  The connecting roof between our center and the next door neighbor’s house was a potential fire hazard.  The entire building was in dire need of a coat of paint.   Actually, it needed many coats of paint.

Interior before
Inside the building the mold was so bad that one could not stay there for any length of time.   The mold and mildew were painfully visible to the naked eye.  The paint was peeling off the interior walls, at least in those places where the walls still had plaster.  There were leaking pipes. After a major water break a few winters ago, our opportunistic mold came to more closely resemble a rain forest.  We hadn’t meant to go quite this green.

How we did it
  After the initial excitement of obtaining the building, the realization of the humongous amount of work required set in.  Where should we start?  Where would the funds come from?  So the first two years were spent discussing how to begin.
The first priority was to evict our feathered guests.   We blocked off their access points.  The shrubs, moss and debris from the roof were removed and holes patched. 
Gutters fixed and painted

We next removed the old air conditioning units. The  section of roof connected with the neighbor’s house was removed.   The gutters were fixed, the chimney repaired.
Inside, the damaged inner walls were replastered and painted.

The deteriorating canvas wall paintings were peeled away and stored for possible restoration.  The debris left by the previous tenants and damage caused by water leaks were removed.  The leaking pipes were repaired.   Additional photos will soon be posted on our facebook.

More of this story will be forthcoming in my next installment.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Connie Zatkovich McDonald
This past week, Connie Zatkovich McDonald and her husband Tim came all the way from Oregon to visit our center.    Connie is the granddaughter of Gregory Zatkovich.   He was the first governor of Podkarpatska Rus.   This was an autonomous region of Czechoslovakia from 1919 to 1938.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


As we begin to inform you on our Cultural Center, I would like to give you a little background about this blog and how it came to be. 

Mike Bolds and Maria Silvestri
Michael Bolds is one of our members who lives in the present but thinks in the future.  He planted the seed of our blog 12 months ago.  We, lacking his green thumb, were unable to bring the plant to blossom.  A shoot, however, survived.

Tim Cuprisin
Recently we turned to Tim Cuprisin for advice.  After discussing the matter, he wisely concluded that I had no idea what he was talking about.  He suggested that I talk to someone who could speak to analogue minds.

This led me to Maria Silvestri.  She has taken our hibernating shoot and brought it to blossom.  Despite my assistance, she has managed to make this blog a living, growing thing; in the first 24 hours it has sprouted 98 fans on our Facebook fan page. Thanks to all three of these members who have helped create the blog you are reading.  And thank you for following our progress.