The annual Memorial Service for the victims of the HOLODOMOR – THE MAN-MADE GENOCIDAL FAMINE AGAINST UKRAINE – was very different in the incredibly different an difficult year of 2020. His Eminence Metropolitan Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, accompanied by V. Rev. Fr. Vasyl Pasakas and His Grace Bishop Paul of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, accompanied by Rev. Fr. Peter Shyshka and Deacon Andriy Pradyvus, served the memorial. Also present were the representative of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Andrew Dobransky, the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary – Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations and Oleksii Holubov, Consul General of Ukraine in New York.
It was a very different commemoration this year with the Cathedral nave almost completely empty. The bishops normally pray with three to four thousand of their faithful present, creating a powerful witness to God remembering the 7-10 million men, women and children who perished in one of the world’s worst-ever acts of genocide – the Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine. Metropolitan Antony remarked to those he spoke with the next day that “when I turned to speak at the conclusion of the memorial service and looked out over the vast cathedral and saw just four or five people where I would normally see at least three thousand, I was taken aback…I realized that the Cathedral was empty because of the pandemic our nation is presently enduring, but at that very moment, I felt with immense intensity, the souls of those millions of victims for whom we were praying. More than in all the twenty six years previous years conducting this memorial, I felt the weight of the Holodomor on my heart and soul, along with a connection to those of the Ukrainian nation who were never able to speak out about what was happening all around them and to themselves. The world was deaf to their suffering and cries of agony. The world, not just the Soviet regime, had been successful for decades in burying the truth about their fate. I was compelled to speak in their name, to proclaim that we must be their voice, never abandoning them, never remaining silent about them, because our silence simply emboldens – and truthfully enables – those who would dare to commit such atrocities again. It was an incredibly moving moment, which I will never forget.”
Absent, through no choice of their own, were the Director and Members of the Dumka Chorus, who have sung responses for the memorial service throughout its history; US Senator Charles Shumer, present almost every year strongly declaring his support for the Ukrainian people and their nation and the declaration of the Holodomor as an act of genocide by every nation of the world; representatives of the US government and other politicians and guests who all assured that they would return for the 2021 Memorial Service.
The full service is available on You Tube – a link can be found at this location.