CHICAGO – Members of the Plast men’s fraternity Pobratymy celebrated the 50th anniversary of their founding with a commemorative divine liturgy on Sunday, October 2, and the blessing of the new flag of their senior chapter, followed by a banquet and luncheon at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church in Chicago.
This three-day event kicked off on Friday evening with a “Meet and Greet” pub night at Chicago’s popular Frontier restaurant, which specializes in exotic meats, followed on Saturday by the fraternity’s annual conclave (“rada”) held at the Oselia campground of the Ukrainian Youth Camping Organization (UYCO), at Round Lake, Ill. Over 50 current and former members from throughout the United States and Canada attended this celebration.
While most Plast fraternities and sororities (“kureni”) were founded in Ukraine and Europe, Pobratymy was the first men’s kurin established in North America. The founders first met as energetic and idealistic young scouts in the summer of 1964 at the inaugural Plast camp counselor and leadership training camp in Hunter, N.Y., known as “Lisova Shkola.” Their initiative of forming a new North American fraternity was crystallized during a group hiking trip to the Colorado Rocky Mountains in the summer of 1966, and the following December the preparatory fraternity held the first official rada in Chicago. The group was formally accepted by the world Plast organization as kurin No. 35 in 1968.
Over the years, Pobratymy have worked in the commands and administrations of numerous Plast camps, international jamborees, and regional and local scouting events throughout North America and Europe, as well as in many diverse leadership and executive roles, such as Plast branch leaders and youth counselors in their respective cities. They have organized numerous specialized camps for Plast scouts focused on activities, such as skiing, canoeing, biking and mountain hiking.
In 1992 Pobratymy established the Pobratymy Foundation Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation for the purpose of supporting Plast and scouting-related activities throughout the world. Over those 24 years, this foundation raised over $250,000, and distributed $140,000 to help numerous causes, including educational activities of local and regional chapters, organization of international Plast jamborees, infrastructure improvements at Plast facilities, Plast’s Chief Scout Fund and, more recently, assistance for humanitarian and medical relief efforts and support for soldier-members of Plast and their families, who have been injured, wounded or killed in the war-torn conflict zones of eastern Ukraine.
Support for the foundation has come from generous individuals and corporate sponsors, as well as from proceeds of the traditional Pobratymy Plast-Chicago Charity Golf Outing, which recently celebrated its very successful and well-attended 18th annual tournament.
The fraternity’s golden jubilee celebration included the blessing of a new flag for the senior chapter (No. 37) of the Pobratymy kurin. the flag was blessed by two Pobratymy Clergy, Fathers Taras Lonchyna and Andrij Onuferko, and the Rev. Mykola Buryadnyk, pastor of St. Joseph the Betrothed Church.
The commemorative banquet and luncheon featured speeches by the founders, an exhibition of numerous archives, greetings from other Plast groups, and the presentation of movies and slides from the fraternity’s colorful and vibrant history. The anniversary’s organizing committee, chaired by Dr. George Kuritza, worked on preparing this event for well over a year.
In addition to commemorating and celebrating 50 years of accomplishments, the event offered the opportunity for members young and old to reunite, and rekindle, and refresh friendships that began over half a century ago.