Holodomor Candle Lighting Ceremonies Held

Candle lighting ceremony at St. Josaphat Cathedral in Edmonton. Left to right: Kyria Bacinski (CYM), Sofia Ovcharenko (Ivan Franko Kursy School), Tars Struk (Ridna Shkola), Andriy Kisil (Plast)

NP-UN Western Bureau.

Members of Edmonton’s Ukrainian community gathered at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, September 21, to honour the memory of the millions killed in the genocidal Holodomor of 1932-33, with a candle lighting ceremony and memorial service.

As Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial President Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz explained, this ceremony was part of an international action initiated by the Ukrainian World Congress to united Ukrainians around the world.

Its beginning was marked when the Hall of Memory of the National Museum of Ukraine in Kyiv, lit a candle on September 1. Every day, for 85 straight days, following September 1 a candle will be lit in cities around the world to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the famine – the purpose being to honour the memory of the victims and to prevent the repetition of such genocides in the future.

“In June of 1933, at the height of the Holodomor, 28,000 Ukrainians were dying of starvation each day. In an attempt to supress the quest for Ukrainian national identity, Josef Stalin and his Bolshevik followers were determined to teach Ukrainian farmers ‘a lesson they would not forget’ for resisting collectivization,” she stated.

Four symbolic candles were lit by youth representing Plast, SUM, Ridna Shkola and the Ivan Franko Kursy School.

This was followed by a Panakhyda (Memorial Service) led by Bishop David Motiuk, Eparch of Edmonton, with concelebrating clergy.

In a brief, but eloquent homily following the service, Bishop David explained that the term “Vichnaya pam’yat” (Memory Eternal) “means not so much that only we remember… it means that their memories may live on forever. That God would never forget.”

“In a small way tonight as we gather to remember, to pray, we give witness to the millions (who died), that through the lighting of these candles, that Christ is within our midst. He is the life of the world. Where there is darkness… at least in some small way the light will continue to shine through… and the light, which is Christ himself, will always prevail,” he added.

September 21 candle lighting ceremonies were also held at St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Calgary, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Calgary, St. Vladimir Church Ukrainian in Red Deer, Sts. Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Catharines, and Chaminade College School in Toronto

September 23 they were held Civic Square, City Hall in Saskatoon, and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Montreal.

September 24 they were held at Bishop Filevich Ukrainian Bilingual School in Saskatoon, and at the Holodomor Memorial in Winnipeg.

October 21 will mark the unveiling of the Holodomor Memorial in Toronto, and on November 19 there will be a National Commemoration on Parliament Hill.