Once the heart is warmed by kindness, the age will not cool. For centuries, Ukrainian parents were guided by these words of Taras Shevchenko and warmed the good, religious and national consciousness of their children, so that under the oppression of the occupiers they would not cool down, but burn with love for God and their impoverished Motherland – Ukraine.
In difficult conditions, such Ukrainian peasant sons and daughters strove for education, graduated from foreign universities and worked for the good of their people. One of them was the priest of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Teodor Hura.
Father was born. Theodore Gura was born in 1892 in the village of Huta, Sokal district in a large peasant family with six brothers and sisters. As a boy, he loved farm work, but always dreamed of getting an education. He began studying at the Sokal Gymnasium, and in 1910 graduated from the Lviv Gymnasium. Under the influence of his father’s brothers (fathers Demyan and Pylyp), he entered the Lviv Theological Seminary. At the same time, he studies at Lviv University at the theological faculty. Due to the hardships of the war, he finished his studies at the Przemyśl Seminary. In 1917, he married Maria Karpyak, a graduate of the Peremysk Gymnasium-Lyceum, born in 1897 in the village of Porozhnyk, Yaroslavl County.
After his ordination in 1911, Father Theodore was sent to Drohobych. At the same time, he works as a catechist in a gymnasium and a priest in the village of Dalyava. In 1918, Lesya’s daughter was born. For his active participation in the liberation struggle, the Polish government transferred Father Guru to the remote village of Kurylivka in the Lezay district. Under difficult conditions for the young couple, the father and his wife are reviving the spiritual and national consciousness in the village. They organize performances, concerts, performances of church and children’s choirs. Oksana, Dartsia, and Nadia are born in the village of Kurylivka. The Poles did not like the spiritual and national revival and the local secular authorities tried to remove Father Theodore from this village. After pastoral work in the villages of Sinyava and Pralkivtsi, in 1932 Father Hura became the parish priest of the village of Torky (14 kilometers from Przemyśl). There was no shortage of work here either. Various sects, communist agitators were active, drunkenness was rampant. For the religious and national revival of the village, the parish priest invited the Redemptorist fathers. They spent a ten-day mission. Finished the construction of the church with a bathhouse. Various associations began to work in the village, such as “Silskyi gospodar”, “Lug”, “Sokil”, “Cooperative”, “Union of Ukrainian women”.
The religious and national revival was not interrupted in 1939 by the Second World War. The Przemyśl eparchy was divided into two parts: before Xiang and after Xiang. Polish chauvinists under Siang began to persecute Ukrainians and tried to expel Ukrainians from their ethnic homelands with terrible night actions. Ukrainians join the rebellion, organize self-defense. The regular troops of two states: Poland and the Soviet Union were thrown against the rebels.
Father Hura and his family are persecuted and forced to leave for the so-called Soviet Ukraine. In 1948, my father’s son-in-law, doctor Stepan Golovid, settled in the village of Godyn, Mosty district, and Fr. Theodore stopped not far from the border in the village. Balich The father refused to convert to the Moscow “kazion” Orthodoxy and was forced to work underground. The son-in-law, doctor Stepan and his wife Oksana worked legally and underground. The religiously and nationally conscious family of Fr. Guri treated UPA soldiers spiritually and physically. The father confessed, took communion, anointed with oil. He performed the duties of a pastor and, together with his son-in-law, a doctor, and his daughter, also a nurse.
The underground pastoral and medical work of the family of Fr. Hura reached many villages such as: Khorosnytsia, Arlamivska Volya, Malniv, Sudova Vyshnya and others. He was often summoned by the NKVD to Mostysk, he was three times in Drohobych to the bishop of the Moscow Church, Melnyk, where he listened to various reprimands, but always rejected proposals to transfer to the Moscow Church.
In July 1951, there was a fierce battle between rebels and Chekists in the village of Gostintseve. The enemies managed to capture some rebel documents. After that, Hura’s father’s daughter, Oksana, was arrested and sentenced to 25 years. More on this should be written in another post.
After raising 4 daughters and waiting for 11 grandchildren who lived in Lviv, Drohobych and Wroclaw, Fr. Theodore Gura passed away in 1973. Father Eustachy Smal with eight Greek-Catholic priests buried his fellow confessor, a patriot of Ukraine, at the Yanivskyi cemetery in Lviv near the graves of the Ukrainian Sichovs.
Father Teodor Hura rested next to those who, like him, dreamed and fought for a better destiny for the Ukrainian people – for Independent Ukraine.
This is how the great son of the Ukrainian people, Taras Shevchenko, defended the Ukrainian word. Alla Gorska, a young and brave Ukrainian artist, wrote these words in the 60s in the lobby of Kyiv University and soon died under mysterious circumstances.
Various occupiers wanted to dominate Ukraine, but the Ukrainian people and their nightingale language stood in their way. “Take away everything from the people – and they can return it, but take away the language, and they will never create it again… You can create a new homeland, but never languages; the language is dead in the mouth of the people – the people are also dead” (K.D. Ushinsky “Native Word”).
The Ukrainian language was forbidden to study and use, and was replaced by the occupation language. Magyars in Transcarpathia and Pryashiv region forcibly introduced Magyar in schools and churches, Romanians – Romanian, Slovaks – Slovak, and Muscovites called themselves the older brothers of Ukrainians and were also seniors – they tried for centuries to take away from the young Ukrainian brother his native Ukrainian language. They claimed, and some still claim, that there was no such language, there is no such language, but only “Little Russian dialect”. In the “Evil Empire” Russian language teachers were paid more than Ukrainian teachers. Different occupiers used different means and methods: they expelled them from their native land, punished them with prisons and concentration camps, and pacified Ukrainians in Western Ukraine.
A shameful role was played by the clergy of the Polish Roman Catholic Church, which very often offered Ukrainians to transfer the metric from church to church in order to receive work. The Polish occupiers instituted compulsory education in the Polish language in Ukrainian schools, forbade the opening of a Ukrainian university in Lviv. This is how the Poles fulfilled their promise to grant autonomy to Ukrainians. The shameful operation “Visula” is genocide against the Ukrainian people on their historical lands, it is another attempt to deprive our Ukrainian people of their native language.
But our nation, having suffered great sacrifices, still persevered and preserved its native language, although it was forcibly dispersed among the occupying oppressors. It is painful to read how decent “rórzadni rusiny” interview the Polish cardinal of Lviv, asking him how he feels in the metropolitan chambers entrusted by the Lviv authorities. And why not ask the Lviv correspondents how the Ukrainians in Przemyśl feel about the Ukrainian episcopal chambers seized by the Poles, when the Poles are thinking of giving them away?
From time to time we hear a call from the leadership of the UGCC for reconciliation. But the real reconciliation is where the wrongdoers ask for forgiveness from the victims, and do not try to humiliate them with grandiose cemeteries and offensive inscriptions on Ukrainian land. With God’s help, we persevered, preserved our native language, and as Vasyl Symonenko wrote: “There is my people, in its hot veins the Cossack blood gurgles and hums.”
Author: Father Roman Kaspryshyn, parish priest of Rudnivska UGCC.
Visnyk Lyubachivshchyna No. 7, Lviv – 2002. – 112 pages.