Ukrainian Orthodox Community of NJ Commemorates Day of Resistance
Ukrainian Orthodox Community of NJ Commemorates Day of Resistance

Ukrainian Orthodox Community of NJ Commemorates Day of Resistance

Honoring 10th Anniversary of Russia's Occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol,

and 2nd Anniversary of War in Ukraine

The Ukrainian Orthodox Community of New Jersey stood in solemn remembrance as they marked the Day of Resistance at the Spiritual Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (South Bound Brook/Somerset, NJ), commemorating the 10th anniversary of Russia's occupation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, along with the second anniversary of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Gathered together in a show of solidarity and resilience, members of the community welcomed dignitaries from the state capitol in Trenton, NJ, as they came to address the Ukrainian-American community.

The event was a poignant display of unity and determination, with children taking a prominent role in the proceedings. As representatives of the future generation, they presented Governor Phil Murphy, the chief executive of New Jersey, with a heartfelt gesture—a meticulously embroidered towel adorned with the likeness of Taras Shevchenko, a symbol of Ukrainian national identity and cultural heritage. Alongside the towel, a candle painted in the vibrant hues of blue and yellow—the colors of the Ukrainian flag—was offered, signifying hope and solidarity in the face of adversity.

Welcoming the Governor of NJ, Archbishop Daniel stated: “This evening, we are honored by the presence of the Governor of our Great State of New Jersey – Phil Murphy, who continues to be the strong VOICE of support and care for the people of Ukrainian descent in the State of New Jersey, but also in our ancestral homeland Ukraine.

On behalf of the Ukrainian community in New Jersey and beyond, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to you Governor Murphy for the unwavering support of the people and nation of Ukraine during these challenging times of war.

Governor, your steadfast commitment to standing in solidarity with Ukraine has been a source of immense encouragement and hope for all those who are affected by the ongoing war. Your advocacy for peace, justice, and humanitarian assistance reflects the values of compassion and solidarity that define our shared humanity.

In times of crisis, it is the support of allies like you, the highest representative of our Great State of New Jersey, truly MAKES STRONGER our resolve and uplifts our spirits. Your efforts to raise awareness about the plight of the Ukrainian people and to mobilize resources for humanitarian aid have made a tangible difference in the lives of those who are suffering.

As we continue to navigate the complexities of this conflict, your advocacy remains instrumental in shaping policies that promote peace and stability in the region. Your dedication to upholding the principles of freedom, democracy, and human rights serves as a beacon of hope for all those who aspire.”

Responding to words of welcome, the Governor stated: “Your Eminence Metropolitan Antony. Your Eminence Archbishop Daniel. Respected ladies and gentlemen!

It is an honor to join you this evening to commemorate the Day of Resistance to the Russian Occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol… an occupation that began ten years ago today… and to mark the second anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine.  

Over the past two years, the world has watched in awe as the people of Ukraine have refused to bend the knee to Vladimir Putin. 

Even in the face of unspeakable war crimes — like the indiscriminate bombings of hospitals and schools… or the torture and murder of civilians and children — the heroes of Ukraine have not once wavered or backed down.

They have been resolute and undaunted in their determination to remain free.

And this evening… the resilience and courage of the Ukrainian people is evident in each one of you: the members of New Jersey’s Ukrainian American community.

That is especially true for those of you with friends and loved ones who are still in Ukraine… like Subdeacon Maksym Zhuravchyk.

Archbishop Daniel tells me that, like many brave Ukrainian citizens…. Subdeacon Zhuravchyk’s brother, Stepan, did not hesitate to defend his homeland during the early days of Russia’s invasion.

In fact, in May 2022, Stepan was serving on the frontlines with the Ukrainian Army when he was severely wounded in combat. He injured his spine, and ultimately, he had to get his leg amputated.

Stepan is a hero, not only for Ukraine… but for the entire free world.  And Subdeacon Zhuravchyk: please know that we are praying for you, Stepan, and your entire family.

We are praying, as well, for every one of the heroes fighting, today, to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Heroes like Mykhail Akulenko... who is — at this very moment — serving in the Ukrainian Army, near Donetsk Oblast.

I understand we are joined this evening by Mykhail’s son, Subdeacon Andrii Akulenko.

Subdeacon Akulenko: God bless you, your father, and your entire family.

And at this moment, I think it is only appropriate to say… on behalf of our entire, nine-point-three million strong New Jersey family: Slava Ukraini!

The heroes of Ukraine — like Mykhail and Stepan — are stronger than any pathetic dictator — like Putin — will ever be.  

And it saddens me to say that… there is really no starker contrast to the strength and bravery of these Ukrainian heroes… than the cowardice of the Members of Congress who are currently blocking much-needed military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Let me absolutely clear: these lawmakers — and their enablers outside of Congress — do not represent our state, or our nation’s, values.

The American people — and the people of New Jersey — have always stood with the people of Ukraine… and we will continue to stand with Ukraine. As long as it takes.

And that is not just because our state is home to one of the largest Ukrainian American communities in the nation… or that we are the spiritual home of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America.

No, we stand with the people of Ukraine because their fight for freedom is, in many ways, our fight for freedom.

As Americans and New Jerseyans… we see, in Ukraine, our own proud history...

…we see, in Ukraine, that same, quote, “yearning to be free” that is not only emblazoned on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty… but emblazoned, as well, into our national psyche… 

…and we see, in Ukraine, a struggle for independence that will shape the future our entire world… our shared future.

And you need not look far to find proof of the American people’s deep, abiding commitment to the Ukrainian cause.

Just drive through nearly any town — and you will find flags, bumper stickers, yard signs… all featuring the glorious blue-and-yellow flag of Ukraine.

And that enduring commitment to Ukraine is reflected within our state government, as well.

As your Governor, I promise you: we will continue providing support to Ukraine any way we can…

…We will continue pushing Congress to pass this aid — immediately…

…And we will always keep fighting to ensure Ukraine remains a free nation.

Thank you. And God bless you all.”

His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, the spiritual father of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, delivered a stirring address to the gathered assembly. His words echoed with a sense of resilience and determination, urging the community to remain steadfast in their commitment to the cause of Ukrainian sovereignty and independence.

The presence of local and state authorities underscored the significance of the occasion, reaffirming the unwavering support of the American government for the Ukrainian people in their struggle for freedom and self-determination. Archbishop Daniel and Natalia Honcharenko served as masters of ceremonies, guiding the proceedings with grace and dignity.

As the program unfolded, the atmosphere was filled with the stirring cadence of poetry and song, as seminarians from St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary offered heartfelt recitations and melodic hymns in tribute to their homeland. The voices of children from the local St. Andrew School and SUM (Association of Ukrainian Youth) resonated with youthful vigor and passion, as they performed traditional dances and songs, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Ukraine.

In commemorating the Day of Resistance, the Ukrainian Orthodox Community of New Jersey reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to the principles of freedom, democracy, and human dignity. Through their collective efforts and steadfast determination, they stand as a beacon of hope for all those who seek to uphold the values of justice and liberty in the face of oppression and tyranny. As the struggle for Ukrainian sovereignty continues, they remain united in their resolve, drawing strength from the timeless ideals of courage, solidarity, and resilience that define their nation's spirit.

Ukrainian Orthodox Community of NJ Commemorates Day of Resistance

Photos by Subdeacons Maksym Zhuravchyk, Mykola Stefanyk and Elizabeth Symonenko

(49 images)

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Mailing Address
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
P.O. Box 495
South Bound Brook, NJ 08880

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Metropolia Center
135 Davidson Avenue
Somerset, NJ 08873