- Associated Press - Monday, February 24, 2014

NANTICOKE, Pa. (AP) - The Myasopusna festival is always a big event for parishioners at Transfiguration of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church.

The pre-Lenten celebration features signature Ukrainian dishes, and performances by dance groups and a choir. It has happened every year since 2006.

But on Sunday, about 200 people flocked to the church for the Myasopusna festival, which organizers said may be the largest crowd for the event yet.

Christine Mash, a church school teacher at the parish, chalked the big turnout up to three things: Warmer weather, people wanting to return to the festival after their first visit and Ukraine being in the news.

Mash said the revolution for independence happening in Ukraine, which has left at least 82 people dead, has made residents more mindful of what is going on in the country.

The parish’s pastor hails from Ukraine.

The Rev. Volodymyr Popyk, in his thick Ukrainian accent, speaks pridefully of his former home, explaining the protestors in Ukraine are fighting what we take for granted in America.

“People in Ukraine want to live like we do here,” Popyk said. “Because the United States is good example of how to have a good democracy, how to free yourself, how to be free.”

According to Joanne Kawczenski, a council member at the church, this year’s Myasopusna festival had “extreme meaning” for members of the church.

“We opened with a prayer for those that lost their lives in Ukraine,” Kawczenski said. “(The revolution) is really tied into the festival this year.”

Mash said she got choked up when reciting Ukraine’s national anthem, titled “Shche ne vmerla Ukraina,” which translates to “Ukraine Has Not Yet Died.”

“(The song title) is so true,” Mash said. “The whole history of Ukraine has been a struggle for independence.”

One line, which translates to “Our enemies will vanish, like dew in the sun,” hits Mash particularly hard, she said.

While the revolution in Ukraine did have an impact on Sunday’s theme, Mash and Kawczenski said the event was not meant to be political, but rather, an entertaining day out as the weather heats up.

“We like to bring the people out of their doldrums and we like to have a little bit of a festival,” Kawczenski said. “â€1/8 The singing and the dancing is really gorgeous. It just lifts everyone’s spirits. In a way, we’re preparing for Lent.”

By Popyk’s account, the day was a success, saying his favorite part of the meal was Ukrainian borshch, which is a soup-like dish comprised of beets, meat and assorted vegetables.

But according to Popyk, Sunday was “Meatfare Sunday,” which means stricter fasting rules, including eating no more meat until Easter.

Popyk said some of Sunday’s attendees of the celebration came from more than an hour away to experience the unique festival.





Information from: The Citizens’ Voice, https://www.citizensvoice.com

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