1st Assistant Chair
2nd Assistant Chair
Chicago Committee to Commemorate
Ukrainian Genocide-Holodomor 1932-1933
"HOLODOMOR"- Ukrainian term for "death by starvation"
Ukrainians refer to the Genocide of 1932-1933 as the Holodomor. The term "genocide" was not introduced into language until 1947.
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CHICAGO UKRAINIANS CONCLUDE HOLODOMOR COMMEMORATION WITH GRAND REQUIEM IN CITY CENTER
Chicago’s legendary wind whipped brisk and cold as bundled groups formed in Washington Park, the historical site for public debate and eloquent discourse that
faces Newberry Library, a storied genealogical research center. People held on to flags, banners, signs and emblems as the wind bent and unfurled them.
For weeks, radio stations, leaflets, church bulletins, posters, email postings and other information channels had been inviting, encouraging, and exhorting
Ukrainians all over the city and suburbs to come to the city center on Saturday morning, November 15, to join the procession down Chicago’s central avenues
heading for Holy Name Cathedral, the seat of the vast Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. The community had planned a Solemn Ecumenical Requiem to
mark the end of the its year-long commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian Genocide-Holodomor.
The Soviet-organized and meticulously executed genocide was launched to crush Ukrainian political aspirations and maintain the integrity of the Soviet Union, a
strategy that has resonance in current events. Decades-long secrecy about the tragedy was enforced on victims and reinforced with a blockade on travel and a
muzzling of the press, making it the largest unknown genocide of the 20th century. The anniversary milestone was a link in an international campaign to bring
attention to the horrific event and to acknowledge it as a genocide.
As yellow buses disgorged their occupants, many traveling from distant suburbs, the park filled. Monitors nudged and shaped the crowd into groups by affiliation—
parishes, youth groups, civic organizations, Ukrainian schools, the Ukrainian consular staff, and the general public of seniors, parents holding the hands of small
children, families with strollers. Uniforms and embroidery, as well as black ribbons, adorned many participants.
The procession stepped from the part and into the wide street cordoned by police patrol cars. It moved slowly along the route to the cathedral. In the lead were
young men and women in Ukrainian folk ensembles carrying a birch cross festooned in black ribbon. Three thorn wreaths came next, then a 10-foot blue and yellow
banner, followed by a coffin, draped in black with a large, stark lettering “10,000,000 VICTIMS.”
A large group of clergy from Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox parishes followed the coffin. Then came Ukrainian and American flags carried by veterans. The
procession of orderly, somber participants stretched for city blocks as the park emptied. The mood grew exuberant as the marchers looked forward and back and
realized what had happened! They saw friends, colleagues, and neighbors, but also at faces they didn’t recognize. They were all united, making a statement with
their large ranks, their number calling attention of passersby: We ask the world to recognize our genocide, our national tragedy.
As the procession crossed State Street and moved to the stairs of the cathedral, the massive central doors stood closed, cold, forbidding. Then the bells began to
intone a rhythmic, grim chant, a funereal peal. The procession stopped, stood for interminable minutes, buses and traffic piling up on either side.
Suddenly the great doors were flung open, and within, four hierarchs stood in full religious raiment, inviting the marchers inside. The cross, wreaths, coffin, flags and
clergy entered and proceeded down the main aisle as the marchers, 2,000 by some counts, silently streamed into the cavernous sanctuary.
Nestor Popowych, chairman of the 75th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, welcomed the assembled crowd and introduced Cardinal Francis George,
Archbishop of Chicago, for whom Holy Name Cathedral is the home parish. This was the first public event at the cathedral since a long renovation had kept the main
sanctuary shut to services.
The cardinal came to the lectern and cited St. Paul, remarking on the ecumenical nature of the service. He inveighed against all totalitarian regimes, particularly the
communist terror that destroyed millions. Next, the new bishop of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Bishop Daniel (Zelinsky) addressed the
crowd. An impassioned speaker, he quoted Shevchenko’s poem, “The Plague,” noting how it foreshadowed the horror and suffering of Holodomor of 1932-33. His
shout, “10 million!” rang out through the cathedral, to the 65-foot rafters. “We have to teach our succeeding generations. And we can never forget!” he charged.
Archbishop Alexandr (Bykovetz) of Detroit, a survivor of Holodomor, spoke in Ukrainian about the loss of future generations, both in numbers and in potential, “the
Sheptytskys, Mazeppas, Vyhovskis, Petluras, and Bandery,” as well as the artists, musicians, writers, and other lights of the community that were extinguished before
they could be born.
The hierachs returned to the altar and the requiem service began: lyrical, melodic incantations in the Kyivan style of the Panakhyda (requiem) sung by a choir
collected from the best voices of the numerous Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic parishes throughout the region. It was conducted by Dr. Vasyl Truchly, noted for his
deep and comprehensive study and propagation of knowledge about Ukrainian liturgical music, assisted by Michael Holian, a conductor, musician and teacher. The
music resonated through the sanctuary, supported by the responses of the bishops and the 20 priests surrounding them, and melding the spirits of the assembled
Photographers, reporters, and cameramen from the local NBC and ABC affiliates and Ukrainian media wandered through the cathedral, capturing the uplifted faces,
the rows of Holdomor survivors in the front pews, the youth organizations in uniforms, and the sleeping baby in a mother’s lap.
Bishop Richard (Seminack), head of the Western Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy and pastor of St. Nicholas Cathedral, concluded the service with a moving recollection
of the ritual of baking bread that his grandmother practiced, “blessing and praying at each step, picking up a crumb that fell to the floor and kissing it,” he recalled.
Bread is holy to Ukrainians, and this bread, the basis of their diet, was taken away from them, he noted. Their resulting starvation created a wound that hasn’t healed
through succeeding generations.
Bishop Richard thanked all the participants who so massively participated in the solemn ceremony, concluding right at high noon.
The crowd filed out, a little more noisily now. All had been visibly inspired by an event that will rank among the most memorable and affirming expressions of a
community message in the city’s history.