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Actor-priest pays tribute to Holodomor victims

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Father Edward Evanko in Dormition of the Mother of God Church in Richmond. Photo by Brent Mattson / The B.C. Catholic.By Nathan Rumohr
The B.C. Catholic

History is still coming to grips with a horrifying genocide.

Forgotten for almost 60 years, Holodomor devastated the Ukrainian people.

Now Father Edward Danylo Evanko, a Ukrainian Catholic priest, is thrusting that sorrowful chapter of Ukrainian history into the hearts and minds of parishioners in the Archdiocese of Vancouver and the Eparchy of New Westminster.

Father Evanko, a professional performer before being ordained a Ukrainian Catholic priest, will present Holodomor: Murder by Starvation at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Feb. 24.

The hour-long presentation, based on writings of survivors who were young at the time, will take place after the Stations of the Cross in the Byzantine Rite.

"The writings were done by youngsters. They were resilient, and wrote about their experiences," said the priest, who has performed the one-man show in Australia, U.S., and Ukraine. "I present their stories."

Holodomor, literally translated as murder by starvation, occurred after Ukraine was forced into the Soviet Union (1932-33.) The communists forced Ukrainian farmers to collectivize their farms under the empire. They resisted.

In retaliation Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin starved Ukraine into submission. He had the Soviet forces confiscate grain, withhold food, and execute any Ukrainian who tried to obtain food or flee.

The result was the death of 10 million people, 25 per cent of Ukraine. Three million victims were children.

Holodomor was kept secret for the rest of the Soviet reign. Anyone who spoke up about the events was silenced and any leaked reports were considered anti-Soviet propaganda.

With the fall of the Soviet Empire in 1991 Holodomor was revealed to the world. Hidden documents showed that Stalin had bragged about the mass death inflicted on Ukrainians.

While the subject matter of Holodomor is very dark, Father Evanko hopes to add a little music and humour. "A song or a hymn encapsulates the story I am telling."

Holodomor: Murder by Starvation, will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation to Sts. Peter and Paul Parish's building fund.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 February 2012 09:40  

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