“Per Aspera ad Astra”: Poetry Recitation Contest to honor Patriarch Josyf Slipyj
On January 27, 1963, following 18 years of Soviet imprisonment the Confessor of Faith, Patriarch Josyf Slipyj (1892-1984), was released from the Soviet concentration camps. Deprived of the possibility to return to his native Ukraine, the leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church was “exiled” to the free world, and resided in Rome, where he began spiritual, educational and consolidative mission among the Ukrainians in Diaspora, to promote the Patriarchate of the Church in Catacombs. This year Ukrainian communities around the world are honoring the 50th anniversary of Patriarch Slipyj’s release from Siberia by holding scholarly conferences, symposiums, exhibitions and other commemorative events.
On Saturday, March 2, 2013, students of the Ukrainian Heritage School in Philadelphia, PA, participated in the poetry recital contest “Per Aspera ad Astra”, (through the thorns to the stars) organized by the Josyf Slipyj Research Center of the St. Sophia Association in Philadelphia, and sponsored by the Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union and the St. Sophia Religious Association, Inc. The purpose of the event was to educate the younger generation about the persecution of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and its Leader under the Soviet regime. Twelve students from the 5th through the 12th grade honored Patriarch Josyf Slipyj by reciting various poems by the Ukrainian poets. The Judges, under the chairmanship of Dr. Leonid Rudnytzky, professor of La Salle University, and also including Olha Kostiv, Principal of the Ukrainian Heritage School; Halyna Keller, CEO of the Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union; Oksana Kryliuk, Ukrainian Literature Teacher and Ulana Prociuk, Director of the St. Sophia Religious Association, graded each performance on the fluency of the recital, clarity of pronunciation, intonation, artistic performance, power of expression and the contestant’s poise.
Five runners-up were selected during the contest: Mykhaylo Moroz (gr. 11), Yosyf Kovkiv (gr.9), Chrystyna Zayshla (gr. 6), Natalia Babiychuk (gr. 8) and Markian Shust (gr. 9). The three winners of the contest were: 1st prize - Anastasiya Kaminska (gr. 12), 2nd prize – Anastasiya Bloshchynska (gr.5), and 3rd prize – Chrystyna Biletska (gr. 8). While awarding the contestants, Dr. Leonid Rudnytzky congratulated them on their participation, saying, “I hope this contest gave you an opportunity to learn more about Patriarch Josyf Slipyj, whom I had the honor to know personally. We can call him a Hero, because he was very brave, had a profound faith in God and boundless love for Ukraine.” Olha Kostiv and Halyna Keller emphasized students’ dedication and hard work in preparation for the event.
The contestants were awarded commemorative certificates and gifts donated by the Josyf Slipyj Research Center. The main sponsor, the Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union presented the runner-ups and the winners with prizes. Such events fulfill Patriarch Josyf Slipyj’s vision for the youth, which he proclaimed in his homily on the occasion of a new academic year at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Rome in October 15, 1972, saying, “Nobody is eternal. The elderly are stepping aside and the young are following in their food steps. Blessed is the nation whose leadership is in the hands of honest and educated people who realize that they have been chosen for the good of their people and their Church. Such a nation can rest assured that their leadership will secure its bright future.”
St. Sophia Religious Assn.