JEWETT, N.Y. – Following divine liturgy on Sunday, March 22, parishioners of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church here in the Hunter area marked the 201st birthday of Taras Shevchenko with a heartfelt and intimate program of poetry and song. The parish event joined that of countless others honoring the great bard that take place annually within Ukrainian communities around the world.
Some of St. John the Baptist Church’s youngest members were the first to pay tribute during the program. Laura Briegle opened with a sincere rendition of the poem “Selo” (Village). Lev Ferencevych enthusiastically sang “Poklin Tobi, Tarase” (We Bow to You, Taras), while Adriana Briegle recited an excerpt from “A ya Shevchenka Znayu” (I Know Shevchenko). Luba Ferencevych voiced the poem “Tarasovi Kvity” (Flowers for Taras), and Oleh Pavelyk stirringly recited Shevchenko’s classic “Subotiv.”
During the second half of the program, church trustee and cantor Stepan Korostil sang two non-traditional, yet relevant songs: “Molytva za Ridnyi Krai” (A Prayer for My
Native Land) and a love letter to the city of Ivano-Frankivsk called “Misto Moye” (My City). These pieces were intentionally chosen as an act of solidarity, as the current tensions in Ukraine and war in the country’s east being fought by Shevchenko’s brethren parallel the bard’s own struggle for human rights and freedom for the Ukrainian nation.
The Shevchenko birthday celebration culminated in an emotional rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem, followed by an opportunity for parishioners to mingle and enjoy homemade baked goods and coffee.
For more information about St. John the Baptist Church in the Hunter area, readers may visit UkrainianMountaintop.org.