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: