UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
“Voices of the People” – Ukrainian Festival in ND!
Such was a topic of this year’s Ukrainian Festival in ND for which hundreds of people from various towns and neighboring states arrived to Dickinson, ND in order to celebrate the history of Ukrainian community of North Dakota.
“Between the years 1897-1899, three distinct immigration groups from Ukraine arrived to North Dakota. One group emigrating from Ukraine under the Austrian Empire came from the villages of Borschiv District and claimed land primarily in Billings County. Another group emigrating from the village of Wolkivtsi, western Ukraine was first sent to Mannhaven to create a settlement on the western side of Missouri River. This location separated them from the homesteaders claiming land north of Bismarck. Over the frozen river, they returned to McClean and Burleigh Counties. Thirdly, immigrants from Ukraine, spent the winter season in Tripp, SD and in spring created covered wagons of supplies and headed in search of homesteaders in central North Dakota…” – these were the reflections of the Ukrainian Seminar, which took place at Dickinson State University on July 22nd. Representatives of various Ukrainian communities of ND shared the stories of settlement of their forefathers in a distant land, thousands of miles away from what they used to call “home” in Ukraine. Dr. Richard Brauhn, a director of Special projects and Reports of the University served as a moderator of the Seminar, skillfully reflecting on the common topics that the Ukrainians of ND shared in the years passed: their religion, cultural traditions and a fight for freedom.
In addition, the Ukrainian community in North Dakota also honored the memory of those who came to settle in the area following the United States government purchase of 827,900 square miles of land as part of the Louisiana Purchase from France.
USA President Thomas Jefferson created plans for settling this area with small farms. It was after the Homestead Act was signed into law in 1862 by then President Abraham Lincoln that land was offered at no cost to farmers – “zemlia za durno” – attracting thousands of immigrant and other farmers (homesteaders) to the area and leading to the creation of new states among which was North Dakota (1889).
His Grace Bishop Daniel, a ruling hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, assisted by Protodeacon Oleh Maletych of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, NJ traveled to Bismarck, Dickinson, and Belfield, ND in order to participate in the seminar and offer his reflections on the history of the Ukrainian community in ND as well as to lead the community in the prayer services of the weekend at Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Belfield, ND.
The Ukrainian community of North Dakota opened its heart to the bishop of our Church, who himself immigrated to the USA just 15 years ago. Bishop Daniel participated in the programs of the Festival, recognizing the legacy of the immigrant homesteaders. He met with the administration of the Ukrainian Cultural Institute in North Dakota, sharing his views of the social, cultural and spiritual development of Ukrainians in Ukraine, USA and throughout the world.
On Saturday morning, the bishop entered the community parish temple, being greeted with traditional bread and salt and the profound words: “We welcome you with this bread, God’s gift to man. We welcome you with this salt, God’s gift to man through his toil...” These words touched each person in attendance of the Divine Liturgy, as they reflected the painful history of Ukrainians in ND, as they labored in the fields of their villages and towns, providing a piece of bread on a table for their children. The bishop made a reference to the value of the product of human hands – bread, which is being offered as a sacrifice to God and being received by the faithful in the Holy Mystery of Eucharist.
In his sermon the bishop called upon the faithful in attendance to remain true to their Christian vocation, which is being challenged by the world of modernity. Bishop Daniel stated that being a Ukrainian Christian does not simply mean to dress one in traditional Ukrainian costumes, but it means that one lives his Christian vocation, following the commandments of the Lord and honoring the memory of our forefathers. The bishop asked the faithful not to confuse the past with the present, but to learn from the history of our communities in order to secure a blessed future for generations to come.
The Festival concluded with the Eucharistic prayer, offering thanksgiving to the Lord for the blessings received and prayerfully committing the Ukrainian Community of ND into the Lords loving embrace.