Religious Information Service of Ukraine (RISU)
Lviv, Ukraine, June 13, 2003
Lviv, Ukraine......RISU..........An academic and memorial expedition "In
the Footsteps of the Famine of 1933" visited three southern regions of
Ukraine, Kherson, Mykolaiev and Odesa. Initiated by the Ukrainian Greek
Catholic Church (UGCC), the purpose of the expedition is to remember the
70th anniversary of the Soviet-forced famine in Ukraine.
Members of the expedition group, with leader Anna Semeniuk, reported on
the journey on 11 June 2003 at a press conference held in the metropolitan
palace of the UGCC in Lviv.
The expedition visited areas where large numbers of people died from famine,
got familiar with archival data regarding the events of 1932-33, gathered
testimonies from witnesses of the famine, visited places where victims of
the famine are buried, and celebrated memorial services that involved
various religious confessions.
In Odesa, representatives of the UGCC, Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan
Patriarchate, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian
Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, the Anglican, United Methodist, and
German Lutheran churches took part in joint memorial services for victims of
the famine. Ecumenical memorial services were also held in Kherson and
"We had the courage to witness to the truth," said Redemptorist Fr. Mykhailo
Voloshyn, a member of the expedition. "If nothing is said about it, the evil
will be repeated. Various confessions were open to learning about the
The members of the expedition noted that they gave special attention to the
spiritual consequences of the famine.
They said that the famine destroyed a generation of the local population,
and so religious and national traditions and spirituality were not handed
They said that in these regions the lack of spiritual-pastoral care rules
and is strongly felt, and that various new religious movements are taking
advantage of this.
According to Semeniuk, materials are now being prepared for an international
congress on the famine, to be held this October. An appeal will also be sent
to the United Nations to acknowledge on the international level the fact of
the genocide of Ukrainians. Semeniuk said that, at the governmental level,
the president's decree to mark a year in memorial of the famine not been
carried out, and more than once members of the expedition met opposition
from civil authorities.
Members of the expedition met with school and college-age students to talk
about the events of the famine and to encourage the younger generation to
learn more about the tragedy.
The members of the expedition thanked the hierarchy of the UGCC for its
support of this action and hope for such support from the Ukrainian
diaspora. The second stage of the expedition will begin soon, traveling to
the central Ukrainian regions of Khmelnytsk, Vinnytsia, Cherkasy and
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