Event raises more than $100,000 for UCU
PHILADELPHIA – A charity folk-ball “Perelaz” was held at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Jenkintown, Pa., on October 9. The event, the first of its kind in North American, attracted some 300 people and raised more than $100,000 for the Ukrainian Catholic University.
“It’s a great honor to be the first place in America to continue a wonderful tradition like Perelaz in support of the Ukrainian Catholic University,” said Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia Andriy Rabiy of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church as he greeted guests.
Event organizers had been planning to hold Perelaz (Neighborly Fences) for several years. If not for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions, organizers said the event would have taken place last year.
“A number of friends from Lviv came for the enthronement of Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak in 2019, and we started to discuss the idea of collecting funds in Philadelphia for the support of students and projects of the Ukrainian Catholic University,” said Askold Sandurskyy, the head of the event’s organizing committee.
“We immediately decided that the best format would be the Perelaz folk-ball, and the most appropriate place would be the territory of Mykhailivka [St. Michael’s], which also functions as a spiritual-cultural center for Ukrainians in Philadelphia,” Mr. Sandurskyy said.
Iryna Mazur, the honorary consul of Ukraine in Philadelphia, said UCU supporters understand the value of the university to Ukraine.
“The Ukrainian Catholic University is concerned about our future, about the mentality and vision of statehood that our young people will have,” Ms. Mazur said.
Ihor Zharyi, a member of the parish council at St. Michael the Archangel Church, echoed the sentiment.
“What good is success without conscience, humanity or faith?” Mr. Zharyi said. “I support UCU because this university understands that.”
Among the guests of the folk-ball was Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova, who said that attending and supporting the event for her was not simply a matter of protocol. It was an opportunity to continue a tradition of supporting an important Ukrainian educational institution.
“Even if I had many cities to choose from, I would still be right here,” Ms. Markarova said. “My family and I didn’t miss any activities for UCU in Lviv or in Kyiv. And now, when the first such event is happening here in America, of course I couldn’t miss it. [I came] not only as ambassador to the United States, but as a long-time member of the Friends of UCU,” Ms. Markarova said.
While it was the first time a Perelaz even was held in Philadelphia, the event has become an annual tradition for officials at the university. In order to help kick-start the event in the United States, UCU Vice-Rector Myroslav Marynovych came from Lviv to attend the event here. He brought with him more than 40 Ukrainian entrepreneurs, long-time friends and benefactors of UCU for whom Perelaz has long been a favorite party and a customary way to support the university in Ukraine.
Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia noted during the event how many Ukrainians traveled to Philadelphia to attend Perelaz, which in Ukrainian is an opening or set of steps that allows people to traverse a fence in order to visit neighbors.
“I don’t know if so many people would travel so far to Philadelphia for any other event. This is an important precedent. Philadelphians, now we need to travel together as guests to Lviv,” said Archbishop Gudziak, who is also president of UCU.
Archbishop Gudziak thanked the evening’s benefactors and said they are among a growing group of people who are making a lasting impact on the university.
“Philadelphia belongs to 20 cities that have committees that support UCU. And this network of support and love, I am convinced, will continue to transform the university community,” Archbishop Gudziak said.
“My mother and father attended Perelaz in Lviv a number of times and talked about this fine family celebration, so I was glad to travel here from New York,” said Sofika Zielyk, a Ukrainian American artist who lives in New York.
UCU Vice-Rector Myroslav Marynovych also thanked the global Ukrainian community for developing important leaders for the university.
“Without the expatriate of Syracuse and Harvard, Archbishop Borys Gudziak, a Ukrainian from Belgium, Fr. Mykhailo Dymyd, and a number of other diaspora Ukrainians, UCU would be like 220 other universities [in Ukraine which are]unable to overcome the genetic defects of communist education. UCU has gathered around itself those Ukrainians who suffocated in the stale atmosphere of ‘Soviet man’ and found in the university a space for self-realization and inspiring work,” Mr. Marynovych said.
A key portion of every Perelaz event is a charity art auction, and Philadelphia was no exception. Guests bid on 14 lots, including icons and graphics of noted Ukrainian artists, as well as necklaces and designer Christmas decorations.
Viktor Morozov created the musical atmosphere for the event, and guests were treated to a separate surprise, as famed Ukrainian musician Oleh Skrypka attended the party in Philadelphia.
The Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union, Meest and Askold and Svitlana Sandurskyy sponsored the event.
Individuals who donated to support student scholarships at UCU included George and Roma Temnycky, Oksana Bachynsky-Tarasiuk, Andrew and Christina Tershakovec, Stephen and Julia Szyszka, and Ihor and Vira Zharyi.
Contributions were also made by Assumption of the BVM Parish in Perth Amboy, N.J., St. Josaphat Parish in Trenton, N.J., St. Nicholas Parish in Passaic, N.J., among many others. The largest donation of $20,000 was made by an anonymous donor.
It was announced during the evening that Oleh Tretiak and his sister, Christina, donated to establish a scholarship fund in memory of their parents, Maria and Kost.