Thursday, November 29, 2012

Summer School for Rusyn Language and Culture

Landscape in Eastern Slovakia (photo taken by Jim Kaminski)

The Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum International Summer School for Rusyn Language and Culture will be held for the fourth time in Prešov, Slovakia this coming June, 2013. Sponsored by the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture and housed at the University of Prešov, the three-week session which runs from June 9-30 offers a rich and exciting immersion experience for those interested in learning about Carpatho-Rusyn language, history, and culture on site.

American students attending the summer school
So many of our grandparents and great-grandparents came from the eastern Slovak region around Prešov, slightly to the east--from Transcarpathia, and also slightly to the north--from the Lemko Region of southeastern Poland. There’s simply something very special about having the opportunity to spend three weeks in this area, not only absorbing information from experts, but also enjoying several excursions which will familiarize you with Prešov itself, and the surrounding countryside. Do you have questions about your grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ homeland? You’ll get your questions answered at the Studium. Participants not of Carpatho-Rusyn background are also warmly welcomed and will have a chance to learn about a fascinating Slavic culture poised on the threshold between the East and West Slavic worlds.

This summer, Professor Paul R. Magocsi of the University of Toronto and the foremost scholar in Carpatho-Rusyn studies in the world will guide you along the Carpatho-Rusyn historical path from the beginnings to the present day in a series of lectures during weeks one and three. During week two, Professor Patricia Krafcik of The Evergreen State College and longtime editor (1978-98) of the Carpatho-Rusyn American Newsletter, will offer presentations on selected topics in Carpatho-Rusyn folklore. Parallel lectures on history and folklore will be given in Rusyn for advanced students by faculty from the University of Prešov and also from Uzhhorod, Ukraine.

Participants have enjoyed enormously the various excursions offered in the first three years of the program, and this summer promises the same enjoyment and more. Some destinations include the towns of Medzilaborce (including the graves of famous Rusyns and the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art), Bardejov (with its famous open-air museum of Carpathian wooden churches), Svidník (and its well-known Rusyn Folk Festival), and Stará L’ubovňa (with its castle complex, and including a raft trip on the Dunajec River). A walking tour of Prešov will jumpstart our summer, and a visit to several working Carpathian wooden churches provides a journey into the past which is great for photographers and is truly unforgettable. There will be two new experiences this summer, as well. One is our attendance at an authentic Rusyn wedding in the village of Kurov (home village of Professor Mykola Mushynka, who will be reading lectures in Rusyn on folklore and who will offer an in-depth explanation of the wedding event) and a day trip on the final Saturday to the city of Uzhhorod in Ukraine with which so much significant Rusyn history and culture are identified. There, Uzhhorod resident Valerii Padiak, who will be offering the history lectures in Rusyn, will serve as our enthusiastic guide acquainting us with the “Carpatho-Rusyn Uzhhorod.”
View from the 11th floor dormitory

The Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum, then, offers you the chance to get deeply familiar not only with one city important in Rusyn history and culture, Prešov, but also plenty of opportunity for travel in surrounding areas and a profound experience of Rusyn culture.

Finally, there is a certain wonderful camaraderie that develops among the participants which previous attendees can tell you about. You will develop friendships that may last a lifetime. Most definitely, for those of Carpatho-Rusyn background, you will breathe the air your ancestors breathed, see some of the sights they certainly saw, including the magnificently green and rolling hills which give way to the rugged Carpathians, and acquire a deeper understanding of the lives they lived.

For further information and application, please go to:
Written by Pat Krafcik, email:


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Carpatho-Rusyn Christmas

Svajtyj Vecur (Christmas Eve)

The Christmas celebration for Carpatho-Rusyns, an East Slavic people hailing from the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe, is steeped in ancient tradition. The customs are a  mystical blend of old pagan Slavic customs honoring ancestors and family with the revelations of Eastern Christianity.

The celebration’s main time is actually Christmas Eve, when the Holy Supper (Svjatyj Vecur, Velija) is served. Many customs are associated with this solemn meal, and these customs can vary from village to village and county to county.

In many Carpatho-Rusyn villages, the head of the household takes some of the food first and feeds it to the animals, since the animals in the stables were the first to witness the coming of the Savior when He was born in a manger. This gesture is to help assure a prosperous year for all of the family’s animals. Peas are thrown out to the chickens to assure their fertility (and that of the household’s) for the coming year.

In the middle of the table rests three key items – the icon of the Nativity of Christ. The Kracun or Christmas bread, and a triple candle stand. The icon proclaims the mystery of the Nativity; the bread – that the coming Christ is the bread of life: and the candles – that through Christ’s coming the Trinity was revealed to us. The kracun is then broken, passed around the table and shared together. Then garlic cloves and honey are shared by all. This must happen so that the family will stay together for the coming year. In some Rusyn villages, the legs of the table are bound by chains to “Keep the family together.”

Christmas Eve for Rusyns is a strict fast day. Therefore, all foods served must be free of meat and dairy products. Twelve dishes are served and these too vary from village to village. However, some of the more common include mushroom, pea or bean and sauerkraut soup, pirohy (dough stuffed with potatoes, kraut or prunes) bolbalky (bread balls with kraut or honey and poppy seeds), holubky(cabbage stuffed with rice or barley and mushrooms), fish, and prunes.

The décor is also meant to remind the Carpatho-Rusyn peasant of the mysteries of God becoming man and dwelling with us. The table is covered with a decorated white cloth, symbolizing that Christ came without sin; hay is scattered on the table and floor, reminding Rusyns that He came in humility, born in a stable; and an extra place is set at the table for Christ, symbolizing the Eastern Christian belief that Christ comes each year–ever present in the Eastern Christian home. Originally, however, this place was set in pagan times for the ancestors to join the family.

After the meal, the family goes to church for Christmas Eve Matins, leaving the food on the table and sometimes the windowsill “for the ancestors.” Children awake the next morning and see the food and drink gone, consumed by “their ancestors.”

Each Carpatho-Rusyn home is also visited by the Jaslickari, or Bethlehem carolers, a custom that can be traced to the blending of pre-Christian caroling customs and the medieval passion plays. The Jaslickari are young men from the village dressed as shepherds and angels, who witnessed the miraculous birth of Christ. They come into each home to enact a play with song, about their visit to the manger and their coming to grips with the mystery of Christ’s birth and their own human failings. The Jaslickari are a genuine folk expression and were a vital piece of the peasant’ s education in his or her faith.

The Jaslickari enter the home carrying a replica of the parish church or a stable. Some are in the role of angels, wearing white robes and tall, stovepipe hats. Others are the shepherds. Among the shepherds is a particularly colorful character, Guba, who dressed in sheep’s wool and sporting a beard and mask, represents mankind’s human tendency towards evil, chasing and frightening many a Carpatho-Rusyn child in the home.

Christmas Day is spent feasting while groups of carolers go from home to home proclaming the Good News. And Carpatho-Rusyns greet one another with the exchange: 

Christ is Born! Hristos Razdajtsa! 
Glorify Him! Slavite Jeho!
© John J. Righetti, 2001
Written by John Righetti.  Email:

Friday, November 9, 2012

John Schweich - Parish Historian

John Schweich
John Schweich, C-RS trustee, will be presenting at the 2013 Czechoslovak Genealogical Conference in Chicago.

 I grew up in  Frackville, a coal mining town in Northeastern  Pennsylvania in the midst of some of the oldest Carpatho-Rusyn settlements (St. Clair, Minersville, Shenandoah, Mahanoy City) in North America.  The local Rusyns had all of the fine qualities that are their trademarks, i.e. a fierce sense of loyalty to family and spirituality, a world class work ethic, a supreme ability to adapt to changing environments, that unparalleled cuisine, etc..  Ethnic self-awareness, however,  was not one of them.  Queries about their ethnicity produced responses like: "Slavonic," "Slavish," "Rooshin" , "Greek," "Our People," "Austrian," "Hungarian," "Uhorsky," "Uhorshchane," "Rusnaks," "Ruthenian," "Carpo-Rus," "Carpatho-Russian," "Russian," "Buyzzantyne, (a pharmaceutical perhaps?)" etc.  Never once did I hear  the term "Rusyn."  The people I queried about the terms "Greek" and "Byzantine," seemed to be more than clueless about the land  of Homer or the history of Constantinople.  The language used by those Carpatho-Russians was not Russian.  Since I was studying Russian at Penn State at the time, it seemed closer to Ukrainian, although, strangely,  the locals did not seem to appreciate hearing that.

To sort out the confusion and  because Magocsi's works had not yet appeared, I consulted a few available books, which turned out to be the largely unhelpful works of polemicists.  It began to occur to me there may be a "lost tribe" of Slavs that the mainstream scholars had failed or were otherwise unmoved to catalogue.

The solution seemed to be to collect all of the written histories available produced by a largely anonymous corps of parishioner chroniclers, which dealt not only with specific Byzantine Catholic  and Orthodox parishes, but, ultimately, with the local Rusyn community itself.

   While this was promising, it was also frustrating: the answer to one question might be found, only to have five more queries appear.   If there had been and Orthodox-Greek Catholic split in the town, say in  Taylor PA or Binghamton NY, how did each side chronicle the separation? Did persistent Old Country village loyalties play a role, as they may have in Farrel/Sharon PA? Oftentimes, the local historians ignored the fact that the parish represented a separation  from another (unmentioned) church or that a given parish had suffered a loss of half or more of its members.

After 30 years of effort, the result has been a collection of 1400 volumes pertaining to the histories of about 600 parish communities founded predominately by Rusyns or in partnership with other ethnic groups and representing half a dozen ecclesiastical jurisdictions.   Along the way, I have collected a fair number of histories of other communities, including Romanians, Melkites, Russians, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Serbs, Greeks,  Macedonians, Bulgarians, Poles, Slovaks, and Croatians.

This is, I believe, is the largest such collection in the US.  Some of the works  are triumphs of historiography ...other are not.  Although I am regularly  asked  to provide information on individuals, these histories are not  particularly  useful for genealogical purposes.  Unless the relative in question was a clergyman, a founding member, a cantor or choir director, a trustee (kurator),  a major donor, or a "first" ( baptism, marriage or funeral), there will likely be no mention of him/her.

Sometimes  the prose used is majestic:

"Beyond ties of blood, language and shared memories, the Ruska Vira, the Greek Catholic Church and its rich traditions, bound this urban village together and gave meaning to simple but intense lives. The Rusin village in South Philadelphia did not rest until, like the ancestral villages in Europe, it nestled in the shadow of an onion-domed church and three-barred cross." (Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church, Philadelphia PA, 1891-1991, 100 Blessed Years)

Sometimes the prose  conveys (humorously) unintended  imagery:

"The fire of 1904  gave  the parishioners a burning (emphasis added) desire to rebuild the church." (name withheld)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Recipient of the John Mihalasky Award - Jim Huratiak

Jim Huratiak
Jim Huratiak is one of the most valued C-RS members whom I have had the privilege of knowing.  He is that rare individual who not only possesses excellent ideas, but is willing to roll up his sleeves and actually do the work necessary to see them through.  It is no wonder that he has been honored by the New Jersey Chapter with the 2012 John Mihalasky Humanitarian Award.

Shortly after the Chapter’s founding in 1999, Jim joined its Planning Board.  For 13 years he has driven the 80 miles from his home to attend virtually every Board meeting.  He serves as Board Media Director, recording each of the Chapter’s programs on DVD.   When New Jersey’s initial financial support from our National ended, Jim proposed selling those recordings as a source of revenue.  These DVDs have been purchased by Rusyns throughout the country.  They have been priceless in documenting and disseminating our culture.

It is at the National level where I have been able to experience Jim’s dedication first-hand.  In 2004 I became Chairman of the C-RS Cultural Center Committee.  The board had purchased the former St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cathedral, a Pittsburgh Landmark sorely in need of repair.

Jim with his wife of 45 years Susan
Along with daunting structural issues, the wiring lived up to its billing as “byzantine.”  Fortunately for the organization, Jim is certified by Pennsylvania as an Electrical Inspector.  Furthermore, he is past President of the Benjamin Franklin Chapter of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors.

Having cut his teeth on the drive to New Jersey, he was only too happy to expand his range to Pittsburgh.  This he has done several times each year (at his own expense) from 2007 through 2011.  Taking time off from his genealogy research, he has reconfigured the Center’s sprinkler system, updated the circuit board and made frequent improvements to the electrical outlets and wiring. 

Jim felt that the Cultural Center could be a treasure for our people.  I have always been able to seek his advice and to count on him to do the work that would bring it to fruition.  Thanks to his dedication, we were able to hold numerous programs and exhibitions prior to my departure as Cultural Committee Chairman.  Without Jim’s selfless contributions, this could never have happened.
Jim with his best friend Tom Single

As with most organizations, we have plenty of members willing to offer suggestions.  We are fortunate to also have those who are willing to work.   I am grateful to all the volunteers who have come to improve the Center.  Jim Huratiak’s example has been an inspiration to us all.

Written by: Maryann Sivak.   Email:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rusyns and the Czech Legion

There are now two excellent studies on the fascinating tale of the Czech Legion. Conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army, hundreds of thousands of Czechs and Slovaks were captured by the Russians at the beginning of WWI. Taking pity on their Slavic brethren, the Russians allowed these prisoners to be set free. Their way home blocked by the Germans, they had no choice but to head eastward along the Trans-Siberian Railway in search of freedom. Along the way, civil war breaks out between the Tsarists and the Bolsheviks. Trying to remain neutral, they fought only to ensure their progress toward the hope of nationhood. During their harrowing journey through Siberia, the legionnaires grudgingly became protectors of the Russian Treasury and of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, while accidentally precipitating the murder of the Russian royal family. Stripped of their weapons and betrayed by their former allies, over half of the legionnaires lost their lives.  While this is a truly captivating story, it is not the whole story.  Not surprisingly, There were also Rusyns in the Legion, 

Nicholas Pačuta, the assistant editor of the Amerikansky Russky Viestnik,  claims in an article in the paper's Slavish edition ( "Češko-Slovenska Armada," January 17, 1918, p.3 ) that were were over 60 Rusyns in the Legion.  He offers the names of 21 of them:

Michal Tkach
Joann Pažej
Joann Cuprik
Michal Cuprik
Michal Vajda
Joann Zajac
Josef Vereš
Joamn Oros
Joann Mišov
Pavel Mica
Vasil' Bilec'
Joann Bilec
Vasil' Alašin
Michal Tkač
Joann Radavsky
Joann Smilansky
Joann Apjar
Josef Salad'jak
Stefan Gomboš
Andrej Kurach
Michael Lata
Vasil' Olašin

Untold, unfortunately,  are such details, as their home villages, their understanding of the of the mission(s) of the Legion, their fate, etc.  Pačuta tells us only  that they are fighting for their new country, Czechoslovakia.

Can someone out there help us learn more about these men and the outcome of their odyssey?

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

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rusyn Women

Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent
While researching the famous Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent for Pitt's nationality rooms, I discovered a surprising connection with our people.   Suleiman, who conquered Belgrade, Buda, Transylvania, Rhodes, Baghdad and twice besieged Vienna had a Rusyn (Ruthenian) wife.  Her name was Alexandra Lisovska.

Alexandra Lisovska*

The daughter of an Orthodox priest, she was captured by Crimean Tartars in the 1520s, sold to the Turks and finally added to the Sultan's harem.  With true Rusyn resourcefulness, she became the first legal sultan's wife in two centuries.  Her works included sponsoring mosques, soup kitchens for the poor and founding a women's hospital in Constantinople.

As for the Tartars, it was strongly recommended that they curtail their raiding activities in Ruthenia.  Or else.  The moral of the story is that if you know what is good for you, you don't mess with our women.  But you husbands already knew that.
*Also known as Roxelana = "The Ruthenian One"

Written by:  Maryann Sivak.  Email:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Heritage Tour 2012

A few years ago, Lisa Alzo gave a presentation on her book Slovak Pittsburgh at the Slovak Embassy in Washington DC.  She was asked to recommend tour possibilities for visiting Slovakia.  "That's easy," she said, "the most informative and fun tours are those given by C-RS."

As a veteran of C-RS Heritage Tour XI (July 10-20 2012), I can agree with Lisa.  I and the 22 other participants from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia received a sampling of Rusyn life in the three countries which compose the "Staryj Kraj" that was both entertaining and sobering.  Our journey began at the Hotel Dukla in Prešov where enjoyed dinner and a performance by the Slovak dance troupe, "Šarišan."  The next day we visited the Rusyn Icon Museum in Bardejov, known as  the best repository of authentic Rusyn iconography.  Bardejov is also the home of a 12th Century Gothic church.   We also took in the Outdoor Museum, observing Rusyn village life in the 19th Century including one of several wooden churches. We later stopped at the the Krasny Brod Monastery , a sacred site fro Rusyns since pagan times.  At the end of the day we "took over" a Slovak korčma (pub).  The proprietress and her son did not seem to mind.

On a day set aside to visit ancestral villages, were were driven to Matysova, a town now largely depopulated and little more than a collection of "weekend get away" homes. One of my fellow travelers was delighted (and moved) to discover that the grave of one of his relatives was still being cared for in cemetery that was largely overrun by weeds.   The former wooden church (St. Michael's) was moved to another outdoor museum in Stará L'ubovňa.  I can only describe the interior of that church as ..well, magical...featuring authentic Rusyn iconography influenced by the nearby iconography school of Muszyna, Poland.

En route to Poland, we stopped at the village of Jarabina, birthplace of Michael Strank, one of the US Marines who raised the Stars and Stripes  atop  Mt. Surabachi in Iwo Jima.  Jarabina was part of the agricultural commune Polana during the Communist era and a huge mural remains in the community dining hall as a reminder, perhaps,  of the way things used to be.  Jarabina was the home village of numerous Rusyn settlers in northern New Jersey and metro New York.  A photo of St. Nicholas Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church in New York City  hangs in the town's community center.

While in the Polish resort town of Krynica, we met the incomparable Petro Trochanovsky, (born 1947) was born in Silesia in the southwestern part of Poland to Lemko parents from Binczarowa. He is the editor of Besida, published in Krynica since 1989. He is a spokesperson for the Lemkos  in Poland and internationally known.  Some call him the Lemko Chaucer but I think he looks like Mark Twain. He is also the choir director at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Church.  He lent his voice to the folks songs "performed" at the Vatra that evening. We also visited the grave and museum of  Nikifor (1895- 1968) (also known as Nikifor Krynicki and Epifan Drovniak) was a naïve painter of Lemko descent. Nikifor painted over 40,000 pictures - on sheets of paper, pages of notebooks, cigarette cartons, and even on scraps of paper glued together. The topics of his art include self-portraits and panoramas of Krynica, with its spas and Orthodox and Catholic churches. Underestimated for most of his life, in his later life, he became famous as a primitivist painter. Somehow, Nikifor's works seem more intrinsically Rusyn than those of the Great Warhol. Krynica has numerous wooden Lemko churches nearby; sadly, because of Akcja Wisła, most are either used by Roman Catholic Poles or have become museums.  During our last night in Krynica, we enjoyed the Vatra at Nikifor Hotel. Some serious singing and moderate consumption of Piwo Okocim (or was it the other way around?) ensued.

On to Užhorod...but first a 2.5 hour stop at the Slovak-Ukrainian frontier and the Ukrainian border police inspected every (repeat every) bag--big or small.  Ukrainian harassment of C-RS?  No, simply breathtakingly bad timing on our part: we arrived while a high level ministry inspection was underway and we gave the border patrol staff  an opportunity to overachieve--at our expense-- in their inspection duties.  I thought the Užhorod Hotel was elegant when I last stayed there in 2008.  It is even more so, now with some added outdoor dining and lounge capacity.  The city itself had also changed: it is cleaner, measurably more prosperous, with more upscale shops and the well-dressed patrons to go with it.  It was also more Ukrainian: Ukrainian flags were everywhere, a message perhaps to those who have  separatist visions for Transcarpathia.  I was struck by the lack of Rusyn-language publications.  Newspapers  and periodicals such as Blahovisnyk, the organ of the Greek Catholic diocese of Mukačevo, were in either Ukrainian or Russian.  John Righetti says that that is because there is not yet an agreed upon literary standard for Transcarpathian Rusyns.  By contrast, the organ of the Orthodox Church of Poland,Orthodoxia, is published in Belarusian, Polish, Russians and Lemko dialect. The church's annual Kalendar is published entirely in dialect.  We were able to  visit St. Ann's Church ("The Rotunda"), Užhorod, the oldest church in Transcarpathia, parts of which date from the 13th Century. The church appears to be used by both Greek Catholic Rusyns and Slovak RCs .

We spent a morning at , St. Nicholas Monastery, Cheneča Hora ("Monk's Mountain"), Mukachevo. Before the cathedral church and other eparchial institutions were established in Užorod, it was at the St. Nicholas Monastery, that the bishop of Mukačevo resided and from where he guided the Ruyn Greek Catholic Church. The monastery and the See of Mukačevo are very ancient. Some say that it dates back to the times of St. Methodius. Even after the center of ecclesiastical life was transferred to the larger and more cosmopolitan city of Uzhorod, the monastery continued to play an integral role in religious life. There were "odpusty" or pilgrimages held at the monastery on every major feast of the Mother of God, the largest and most heavily attended one being that for the occasion of the feast of the Dormition, on August 28. The monastery was turned over to the Orthodox in the 1940s and now used by Orthodox nuns.

Our last day was spent at the gem known as Košice, Slovakia's second largest city. Under its mayor Rudolf Schuster (1983–1986 and 1994–1999) the city underwent a major transformation.  It is the site of a major joint venture with US Steel and has some of the loveliest  Art Deco architecture in Slovakia.

(Written by:  John Schweich, C-RS Trustee)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

C-RS's Multilingual Wizard

John Timo, C-RS multilingual wizard has kindly translated the following Slovak-language article in the 1912 Kalendar Jednota:

"The Greek Catholic Parish in Freeland PA"

Someday, someone may want to write a comprehensive historical account of our Rusyn Greek Catholic parish and its various societies.  He will have to use golden letters when writing the names of the founders, parishioners and fraternalists.  The golden hearts and willing arms deserve this a thousand times over.

For the limited amount of space in the current Kalendar, I offer some highlights:
The parish was organized by: George Malenky, Michael, Jan and Alex Potočny, George Goč, Michael Dutko, Peter Lechman, Michael Medved,Michael Kvarta, Stephan Hrin, Paul Dančo, Jan Gaja, John Staurovsky and many others in 1886. 

At that time the only only other Greek Catholic Church in America was in Shenandoah PA.  Father Jan Volansky of Shenandoah, therefore, served our parish also. 

In he beginning, their services were held in a hall owned by Mr. Michael Zemany, later in a hall owned by a certain Englishman.

The people were intent on having their own church.  They entreated Mr. Eckley B. Cox for lots for a parish home, church and cemetery and he graciously granted them their requests.

The parishioners immediately began the building of the sacred church, even though there was no money, only $1138.49.  Construction began on June 5, 1887.  Thee work progressed nicely and that same year, on August 27, blessing of the corner stone took place.

Bur the parishioners had no pastor.  A request was sent to his eminence, the bishop of Prešov, who sent them Fr . Cyrill Gulovich.

The first church was a wooden building with one tower.  There was joy and celebration August 28, 1888 at the consecration.  Within a few years, the church became completely inadequate.  It was enlarged at had two towers.

With Father Gulovich;s departure, the parish was taken over by Fr. G. Martyak who was very concerned about the needs and requirements of building of an imposing church, as the parishioners desired and one that was large enough for all to enter.

with the departure of Fr. Martjak for the old country, Fr. Iren Janocsky was elected unanimously by the people and he increase the church's assets.  After a short stay, he was transferred to Passaic. 

Following him was Father N. Molchany under whose energetic enthusiasm the construction was completed on the current impressive church.

The church was build according to the plans of architect McGlen from Wilkes_barre.  The construction by W. Baillargeon.

The blessing of the cornerstone was held on May 30, 1907, witnessed by many societies and large crows. Because Fr. Molchany had acquired the parish in Kingston, the blessing of the church was conducted by our present pastor, Father B. Tutkovich on May 30 1908.

I cannot forget the sacrifices of our people, who like the early Christians of good heart, placed their generous offerings on the altar of the heavenly father.  For example, at the blessing of the cornerstone, the collection was over $1,300.00; at the dedication of the church, over 1600,00 and the blessing of the cemetery cross, over $600.00.

We had no schedule for making payments or finishing the building of the church because the parishioners voluntarily made regular payments from $25.00 to $100.00 .  The poorest ones gave at least $5.00.

That year the church interior was painted for $3,000.00.  It is obvious that with pride we can claim that there is none like it in America.  The iconographer was a Slovak, Mr. George Seifert.

The parish owns also a parish house, two cemeteries , a school and a home for rent for two families.

We can boast that our parish is prudently managed by our tireless and energetic curators and collectors, who daily perform their Noble duties with our beloved pastor.

I cannot identify here all of the names , but there is no doubt that are recorded in the Book of Life with the heavenly  Father.  God bless them all!

In our parish are many societies.  The oldest is St. Michael the Archangel, founded by the same men who founded the church. Its founding was September 23, 1888.  The first officers were:

Karol Dushek,President
Alex Potocny Vice President
George Hudak, Accountant
Michael Potocny, Treasurer
Originally the lode was independent.  On September 4, 1892, it joined the national Slovak Society and n 1894 it united with Jednota Lode 15, with 217 members , assets over $2,000.

Other societies include :

St Mary #273, IKSJ
St. George #222 Sojedinenije
Holy Spirit #146- Sojedinenije- (ladies)

Holy Cross Church Lodge Independent.

In Eckley:
St. Nicholas #22- Sojedinenije
A Knights Society
Our own band; well trained.

Theses lodge support the sick, crippled, orphans, and widows and the church.  For example, they purchased
 six windows at $160.00 each.

It was pleasure to write this article, for the world to be aware of our progress and development.  Lord,continue to help in the future.

Jozef Stulakovich

Submitted by:  John Schweich, C-RS trustee.  Email:


Saturday, June 30, 2012

GCU and the Rusyns

The Greek Catholic Union (GCU) was established in 1892 to serve as a fraternal benefit society for Carpatho-Rusyns.  At that time it included members from both sides of the Carpathian Mountains.  In 1894, lodges composed primarily of immigrants from Galicia seceded to form the Ukrainian National Association (UNA) .  The two organizations were competitors and often had lodges in the same communities.  The GCU 's newspaper was the Amerikansky Russky Viestnik (ARV), a weekly published in both "Russian" (a combination of Standard Russian plus Rusyn dialect, in the Cyrillic alphabet) and "Slavish" (an East Slovak dialect using the Latin alphabet) editions.

GCU Lodge 66 in St. Louis was founded in 1893.  As of 1913, it had the following officers: Har. Loga (president), George Oliar (treasurer) Pavel Čarny (secretary).  The official address of the lodge was 209 St. George  Street, St, Louis MO (Čarny's residence). The lodge (in Rusyn, spolok)  met every second Sunday at the church hall, Dolman and Hickory Streets.  Čarny wrote several articles for the ARV ( 09/14/1904, 02/23/1911, and 01/22/1914) In the first piece, he presented a vigorous  denial that Greek Catholics church in St. Louis  had petitioned Bishop Tikhon of the Russian Orthodox Church to be accepted as an Orthodox parish.  That claim was made by a member  of the Orthodox Church in Madison IL and appeared in a letter to the Orthodox paper, Svit. Čarny's article contained the names of the following trustees of the St. Louis church:

Prokop Marfut
Pavel Čarny
M. Geida
M. Ridzak
Peter Kimak
M. Andreyovsky
Grigory Kopcha
I. Yabchenko
D. Orshulyak
N. Duda
Konst. Gramei

In his 02/12/1911 and 01/22/1914 writings, Čarny claimed that he and other members of the lodge were being  pressured to transfer from the GCU to the UNA.  Čarny stated that he considered himself a Rusyn,  had been a member of the lodge since 1893 and had threatened to have the parish  withhold the 5 percent cathedriaticum (parish assessment) to Ukrainian Bishop Ortynsky.  He said that  that despite its predominant  Rusyn identity, the community had been served by exclusively Ukrainian priests.  He named two, Frs. Zholdak and Chaplinsky, as aggressive promoters of the Ukrainian identity and the transfer of his GCU lodge to the UNA.  There had even been efforts to unseat him as Lodge secretary but had continued  to be re-elected to the post.  Because he resisted Ukrainian identity he and his a supporters were often  often called Moskal (a pejorative Ukrainian term for "Russian").

Written by:  John Schweich, C-RS trustee.  Email:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Microwaved Easter Cheese (a.k.a Hrudka, Sirek)

If you’d rather spend your time decorating eggs than stirring a pot, test your spirit of adventure on this recipe for microwaved hrudka.   Let me know if it works….

Thank you Andrea Zober for sharing your recipe.

12 Eggs, slightly beaten
1 Qt. of milk 

1/2 Tsp. vanilla 
Sugar to taste (between 1-5 Tbsp.) 

Pinch of salt -You can adjust seasonings as you are used to making.
Combine the above ingredients
Take 3 Qt Microwave safe container. (Andrea uses the large container from the Tupperware Stack Cooker)  Spray with non stick spray. 
Put the egg mixture in the container. Cover.
Microwave for 3 minutes on  High
(After 3 minutes you can add 1/4 cup of white raisins)
Microwave for 4 minutes on High
NOTE:  a 1250 watt microwave is the same as a 650 degree oven.  Cooking times vary by wattage.
Take out check to see if it is puffed and almost dry.  While you have a little of moisture left, take out and place in cheesecloth.  Squeeze out as much liquid as you can,  Will be very HOT.  Hang to drip and dry for several hours.  This will form the round ball.   Place in warm oven to brown off.
(Written by Maryann Sivak.  Email:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Carpatho-Rusyn Folk Costumes

Though a small area roughly  the  size of West Virginia, the Carpatho-Rusyn homeland, known as Carpatho-Rus’, boasts a wide variety of folk costumes. In Carpatho Rus’, almost every village has its own unique costume style, embroidery patterns and use of colors.

While costumes can be a reflection of influences from other cultures in a border territory like Carpatho-Rus’, the greatest determinant of costume is geography.  What the area is like in which one lives heavily influences  how one dresses – what materials are available locally, what is one’s concept of personal space and what the weather is like.

Let’s first talk about other influences. For instance, among the Carpatho-Rusyns,  those living in Spish and upper Sharysh Counties (today in Slovakia) lived alongside German immigrants who came to mine  the area and make glass. They brought with them lace making, brocade and the batik process for putting patterns in cloth. All of these are used in some of the Rusyn costumes of those regions.

Now let’s discuss weather. Rusyn who lived in the high mountains needed warmer clothing than those in the lowlands around  Kosice, Trebisov and Michalovce(all today in Slovakia). The lowlanders  grew flax and made much of their clothing from its refinement – linen. Highlanders relied on wool as a clothing staple- based upon the need to stay warm.

A key determinant in not only choice of fabric but also style of clothing and color was topography. Among the Carpatho-Rusyns, those living in the lowlands of the Danubian Basin (today Slovakia, Hungary and the very southwest  tip of Ukraine), have wide and open costumes. Men have wide bodied shirts with wide sleeves and wide, fringed pant legs. Women have broad skirts with large pleats. Color in these areas includes a wide array, with a lot of use of red, blue, purple and black.
For Rusyns living in the high Carpathian Mountains in the East (today in Ukraine) where there is little room and therefore , the concept of little personal space(the space right around you), costuming cuts close to the body. Women’s skirts are tight and unpleated. Sleeves are long, tighter fitting, and the neck of the blouse is close and high. A woman’s costume is without frills. It is beautiful but practical in a place where it is harder to grow flax for linen and where sheep’s wool is the least expensive and most plentiful clothing material. Men’s costumes are likewise close fitting and mostly made of wool. The colors that predominate here are much earthier – red, orange, brown and green.

Perhaps the most characteristic feature of Carpatho-Rusyn folk costumes is their embroidery. Regardless of village, every Rusyn folk costume sports some type of embroidery as its ornamentation, with particular patterns used in particular regions. These patterns were not chosen by Rusyn peasants as something “pretty” to adorn their clothing. They are ancient mystical patterns which , like Amish hex signs, were meant to ward off evil or assure the wearer certain things –a bountiful harvest, good health, or a host of children!   One familiar with Rusyn embroidery can look at the pattern on a man’s shirt or the trim of a woman’s skirt and know what region or county within Carpatho-Rus’ the costume comes from.

The costumes of the Carpatho-Rusyns, so detailed , ornate and colorful, are one of the gems our distinct Carpatho-Rusyn culture.

Written by: John J. Righetti, C-RS President.  Email:
Copuyright 2003 John J. Righetti,  Carpatho-Rusyn Society

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Third Annual Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum

Students and Faculty of the First Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum, 2010
This summer will see an opportunity that no lover of things Rusyn should miss.  From June 10 - July 1, 2012, the Institute for Rusyn Language and Culture at Prešov University, Slovakia, will host its third annual Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum.

In the mornings Carpatho-Rusyn history will be taught in Rusyn and English by internationally-recognized authorities like Prof. Paul Robert Magoci of the University of Toronto.

Rusyn language classes will be held after lunch.  The instructors will be faculty members of Prešov University and  Wright State University.  Classes will be conducted in the Rusyn tongue.

Following these sessions, students will enjoy numerous excursions into Rusyn culture.  They will observe wax-resist egg decorating, learn folk songs and absorb Rusyn folklore. Field trips are planned to the Warhol Museum in Medzilaborce and the Svidnik Open Air Museum.  Class members will visit Stara Lubovna Castle and several wooden churches which are designated UNESCO world heritage sites.  They will even get to float down the Dunajec River on a raft.

Space is limited and time is short.  For further information and an application, please visit our website at

(Written by Maryann Sivak.  Email: