UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
The First Lady of Ukraine Visits St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Community in Silver Spring, MD
Mrs. Maryna Poroshenko, the first lady of Ukraine, spent several days in Metropolitan Washington, DC area, representing her husband and the government of Ukraine at the formal dedications ceremony of Ukrainian Famine HOLODOMOR memorial in the capital of the United States of America. Addressing a gathering of over 5000 people at the central train station of DC, Mrs. Poroshenko spoke about the difficult moments of human suffering during the horrific period of artificially created Famine in Ukraine of 1932-1933.
On Sunday, November 8, 2015, the entire Ukrainian Orthodox community of Metropolitan DC area was treated to a rare opportunity to welcome in their midst a special guest of honor. In the early hours of Sunday morning, Mrs. Maryna Poroshenko entered through the doors of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox cathedral in Silver Spring, MD in order to share in a prayer service for the fallen victims of Ukrainian Genocide.
His Grace Bishop Daniel, presiding over the Sunday service and assisted by Very Rev. Fr. Volodymyr Steliac, a pastor of the local Ukrainian Orthodox parish family as well as Very Rev. Fr.Yuriy Kasyanov of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox community in Cheektowaga, NY provided an opportunity to over 300 people in attendance to pray together for the victims and reflect upon one of the most horrific tragedies of 20th century history.
Welcoming the first lady of Ukraine to St. Andrew’s cathedral, both Bishop Daniel and Fr. Volodymyr Steliac reflected upon the historic connection that exists between the Ukrainian Orthodox community of Ukraine and the United States of America. Throughout the years, in the immediate area of the nation’s capital, Ukrainian Orthodox Christians faithfully practice their spiritual and ethnic heritage, passed to them by numerous forefathers, many of whom were survivirs of Ukraine’s Famine of 1932-1933.
Vladyka Daniel shared with everyone in attendance his personal encounter with the painful history of Ukraine’s Famine and the suffering of many Ukrainians in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. This historic connection was made by Bishop Daniel following his most recent visit to Munich, Germany, where he toured the Dachau Concentration Camp, established in 1933, where a number of people from Charkiv (Ukraine) region were imprisoned and starved to death. Some of them were considered to be “lucky” for escaping the torture of starvation by the Soviets, yet experiencing the same methods of torture by the Dachau Nazi guards.
In conclusion of the service, a formal Memorial service was served for the fallen Famine victims, as well as for the most recent victims of Ukrainian nation, sacrificing their lives in the service of the basic rights of freedom and justice.
Commemorating the lives of the lost, the entire community also prayerfully chanted “God, grant you many years!” to the present generation of Ukrainians throughout the world, including the elected officials of Ukrainian government – President Petro Poroshenko and his family, as well as to the entire Ukrainian-American community.
In conclusion, Fr. Volodymyr Stealiak invited the first lady of Ukraine and her entourage to visit the parish hall, where Pani Tamara Worobij, president of the cathedral’s board of administration and representatives of the parish’s sisterhood, assisted by the dozens of children welcomed Mrs. Poroshenko to the spiritual and social center of the Ukrainian Orthodox DC Metropolitan area community. As a surprise to Mrs. Poroshenko the children of the parish family presented her with dozens of bouquets of flowers and an informal “group hug”, which enabled the First Lady of Ukraine to personally embrace each child and offer them a simple hug and kiss.
Being thrilled by the attention given to them, several children recited poetry and sang various songs in honor of the special guest of the parish cathedral family.
Bidding farewell to St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, Mrs. Poroshenko thanked everyone in attendance for their greeting and called upon those in attendance to NEVER FORGET the lost lives and stories of those who died because of one’s regime desire to destroy a nation by starving the people of Ukraine and thus murdering millions.
Earlier in the day, Vladyka Daniel gave an interview to the representatives of the news networks, among whom was a correspondent of VOICE OF AMERICA network, reflecting on the events of the weekend and the importance of the Holodomor memorial in the nation’s capital.
The day concluded with a formal reception hosted by the cathedral’s community in honor of Bishop Daniel and numerous visitors to the cathedral as well as the nation’s capital for the dedication of HOLODOMOR monument in Washington, DC.
First Lady of Ukraine Visits St. Andrew Cathedral - 11/10/15
Photos by Seminarian Mykola Zomchak