MIHAJLO KOVAČ ( 1909-2005 )
Mihajlo KOVAČ was born on 27 October, 1909 . His father Janko was born on 5 February, 1878 and mother Ana ( maiden name Kulič ) was born on 20 December, 1879. Little Mihajlo was baptized by Fr. Kiril Drohobecki ( brother of Bishop Julii Drohobecki). There were ten children in his family of whom he was fifth.
The eldest sister Ilja ( Helen ) died as a little girl. The next one, Ana, was born in 1899 and later on, got married to Dragic Teodosijevic ( he was Serb ) with whom she had 7 children. She died in 1979. Both of them were born in Bačinci.
Then, Mihajlo's parents moved to Šid. There, they had Veruna and Ilja ( second ). The fifth was Mihajlo himself. However, by the time Mihajlo was born, his sisters Veruna and Ilja ( second ) already died.
After 1909, Kovač family moved to Andrijevci. Ana and Janko had four more children of whom only one boy, named Stefan, lived. The other three died in the early age.
After World War I, the tenth child was born to Kovač family. He got his father's name - Janko. However, he died as a baby.
Mihajlo's parents, Janko and Ana, lived together for 60 years. Then Janko died in 1956, and Ana outlived her husband for 6 more years.
Mihajlo started with his education in Šid, in 1917. Then he continued his education in Civil School, which was organized thanks to Serb Orthodox Community of Šid. Jelena ( Helen ) Besermenji, Kiril Beserminji, Olga Bindas and Mihajlo Kovač were the only Rusyn children among pupils of the first generation in this school .
In 1925, when he graduated from Civil School, Mihajlo was sponsored by Bishop Dr. Dionizii Njaradi, and sent to Križevci where he graduated from School for Teachers in 1929.
As a young teacher he got his first job he got in Babska-Novak village, in December 1929. Next year he becomes school master in Markusica village. But thanks to Bishop, he is transferred to Ruski Kerestur in 1931. Here, he becomes secretary of Rusyn National Education Society (RNPD). He works as an editor of children's magazine and director of amateur dramas, he edits annual editions of "Ruski Kalendar" calendar etc.
Mihajlo Kovač is pro-Ukrainian and pro-religion oriented and because of that he gets into trouble with communist administrators and especially with, as he says, " domestic administrators - usurpers from ranks of our [ Rusyn ] people."
He starts writing under the influence of Osif Kostelnik and Bishop Njaradi. His first story Ataman's Son was published in Ruski Novini newspaper in 1927, and his first poem About an Old Man he published in Ruski Kalendar for 1936.
Mihajlo Kovač published the following books:
My World - poems (1964) Quiet Waters - stories (1970) Hric Bandurik - novel in coauthorship with Štefan Hudak (1972) At the Edge - stories (1983) Children World - children stories (1970) First Joys - children stories (1977) Drawn John [Jani Maljovani] - children stories (1978 & 1981) Songs of the Old Gardener - poems for children (1979)
By 1992, there were seven more books published as part of Selected Works Edition:
I, the Worm - Eaten Oak Tree - selected poems An Old Little House - selected children poems At the Daybreak - selected dramas Whisper of the Earth - selected stories The Quince - selected children stories Diaspora - travels and autobiography Literary Work of Mihajlo Kovac - monograph
He died in Novi Sad, on June 17, 2005.
Protopresbiter ( Archdeacon ), Dr. Phil.
HAVRIIL KOSTELNIK (1886-1948)
Havriil KOSTELNIK ( Homzov ) was born in Ruski Kerestur ( in that time - Bacs Keresztur ) on June 15th, 1886. As for wealth, he belonged to the average family. His father, Fedor, was a smart man who was a member of the village government from 1895 to 1919. His mother's name was Ana and her maiden name was Makai. Havriil had five siblings : brothers Michal and Janko, and sisters Maria, Jula and Helena. All his siblings stayed in their native village working as farmers.
He was the most educated Rusyn from Vojvodina, of his time. He was educated and served on the West, but his heart belonged to the East. All his works resemble unsettled spirit and passion that burnt in his heart. He wrote in Rusyn, Ukrainian, Croatian, German, Polish, and Latin discussing philosophical topics, theology, history, sociology and linguistics, as well as writing poems and plays. He married Eleonora Zaricka ( 1891-1982 ) , daughter of the principle of Lviv Ruska Gimnazia, in 1913. With her, he had five children: Sviatoslava ( 1914-1920 ), Irinei ( 1916 ), Bohdan ( 1921-1941 ), Zenon ( 1924 ) and Christina ( 1925 ) .
First six grades of the Primary School, he completed in the village he was born, during 1894-1898. He was an excellent student, especially when it came to mathematics and recitals.
First and second year of the Grammar school, he finished in Vinkovci, Croatia, and third and fourth grade he completed in Zagreb, Croatia.
He enrolled in University of Zagreb Theological Faculty, in 1906. But during the first year of his studies, Bishop of Križevci and dean of Theological Faculty, Dionizii Njaradi, spotted his talent, and sent him to Lviv, Ukraine for further studies. He graduated from Lviv Spiritual Seminary in 1911. At that time he officially became member of Lviv Archieparchy, although current Bishop of Križevci, Julius Drohobeckyi, never let him go.
Being a member of Lviv Archieparchy, he got scholarship from Archbishop of Lviv, Andrei Sheptycky, for his postgraduate studies. He was sent to Freiburg, Switzerland, to the famous Catholic University, to study philosophy. In 1913, Havriil is awarded level of Ph.D. for his thesis About the Basic Principles of Cognition. He prints his thesis in Latin : "Gabriel Kostelnik, De Principiis Cognitionis Fundamentalibus, Leopoli 1913", and verifies the same Doctorate at Lviv University in 1915.
The First Rusyn Original Book
Havriil Kostelnik was author of the first original book of Rusyns in Vojvodina : Idyllic Sequence - From My Village . This book was printed in 500 copies in Žovkva, Ukraine, in print shop of Basilian monks in 1904. Kostelnik got a positive critique from Volodymyr Hnatiuk, who said that this book was the most important accomplishment of Rusyns of Hungarian Rus, even comparing to O. Duhnovič and O. Pavlovič. Thanks to recommendation of Hnatiuk and Šahmatov, Petersburg Academy decided to cover the costs of printing. However, Rusyns in Vojvodina were very poor, and hardly anybody did want to buy Havriil's book. Therefore, he had to pay for the printing himself. This assured young author that his effort was pointless, and he decided to stop writing in Rusyn.
Accomplishments in Croatian
Being a theology student, Kostelnik becomes a member of Croatian catholic youth organizations. He writes in Croatian his Romances and Ballads which was published in 1907. In 1911 he published his collection of poetry Zumberak - Mountain Symphonies , and in 1917 in magazine Enlightenment he prints his poem Moments.
Accomplishments in Ukrainian
In 1918 he published historical poem Arise Ukraine . The poem was created in times of revolutionary changes in Russian Empire and disintegration of Austro-Hungarian Empire. During a short period, when Galitia was no man's land, Ukrainians hoped that they could create their own state. This period will be marked with workers' strikes, national and religious confrontations. International community will be deciding Galitia's future for five years, and the decision will be in favor of Poland. Kostelnik praises Ukrainians' battles for creation of their state, and portrays Archbishop Andrei Sheptitsky as a great religious and secular ( political ) leader.
In 1921, when his daughter Sviatoslava died, he wrote a poem dedicated to his late 6 year old child, To the Late Daughter . Broken hearted, Kostelnik asks who's sins little Sviatoslava had to suffer for. He concluded, that it was probably because she was so innocent that God loved her so much and took her to His Kingdom, and those who sinned, were left on the Earth to suffer the calamities of XX century. Although he believes that God is just, Kostelnik cannot find comfort, for tragedy of the parent who survived his offspring is great.
Song for God, printed in 1922, is a poem which consists of 58 homilies. It was Kostelnik's most favorite. He thought that it was the most valuable writing he could ever compose. In this poem he praises God, represents a city as something unnatural ( Babylon - the source of sin ). The image of unnatural city receives Rome, too. This is probably the period when he already reconsiders Union (of Eastern Orthodox with Catholic Churches ), and starts seeing it as a Polish device for disintegrating Ukrainian nation. He also criticizes communist atheism and absolutism. Nationalism, according to one of the 58 homilies, is also against God's laws.
Dew Drops and the Sun is book published by Dzvoni, 1931-1932 in Lviv. It consists of 31 lyrical essay which are of moralistic, social,metaphysical and nature oriented character. In Stalin - the modern pharaoh he attacks Stalin, and calls him "pharaoh who built his pyramid from human bones".
The First Rusyn Original Play
Jephthah's daughter was printed in 1924. I was inspired by the story about Jephthah, from Judges 30-40 [BIBLE-NLT]. According to the author, this is a tragedy which contains five acts. But if one reads the play carefully, one will also recognize conventions of comedy, too.
Although based on a biblical story, this play has a renaissance and burlesque character, called Osifko ( Joseph ), who is a disabled person and an object of constant ridicule ( a character from comedy dell arte). The play itself followed the form of ancient tragedies.
According to Dr. Julijan Tamas, one should think of this play as of an allegory, moral of which is that one should accept one's destiny as given by God.
Post Mortem Publications
After Kostelnik's death, Ruske Slovo published two collections of his works in Ruthenian :
Poetry,1970 Prose , 1973
Havriil Kostelnik starts his scientific activities with his doctorate thesis De Principiis Cognitionis Fundamentalibus.
He wrote Christian Apologetics, where he considers reality and correctness of Christianity. As an experienced Christian apologist , he concluded that something was wrong with it as a separate science. The book consists of seven chapters:
1.Religion 2.God 3.Genesis 4.Soul 5.Epiphany 6.The Church of Christ 7.Causes of atheism
In the field of theory of cognition, he favored noetics ( he was a neothomist, after all). Studying this field, besides his doctorate thesis, he wrote the following discussions: The Conscious and Subconscious of Cognition , Sources of the Subjective Cognition, Cognition of the External World, The Logical Order, The Principle of the Basis of Identity of All Conclusions, Meaning of Negation and Nothing in Human Perception.
Psychology was perceived by Kostelnik as a science about soul. He was especially interested in experimental psychology and so called "psychology of stigmatization". He studied Nastia Volosin, who had stigmas or "Christ's wounds." Kostelnik acknowledged that stigma phenomenon in Nastia was not a hoax, and that it was probably real. He recognized her abilities of creating "mystical images" which carried hidden divine messages to Ukrainian people.
In 1923, Kostelnik prints in Sremski Karlovci his Grammar of Bach-Rusyn language . This year will mark the new era in cultural life of Rusyns in Vojvodina ( Bačka ). They have got a set of norms, which will help in preserving their native tongue.
In his book Boundaries of Democracy, Lviv, 1919, Kostelnik considers human rights and their application in political life of that time. He considers various moral aspects which should have been a benchmark for the new born Ukrainian state, which would last only for a short time. This book was advertised by Ukrainian Catholic clergy, as a must for every citizen "who is interested in social questions of our time".
Some authors claim that his affiliation towards eastern Orthodoxy started, when he got back from Italy in 1925. He undertook a detailed study of historical aspects of papacy and unions of Eastern Churches with Church of Rome, and concluded that Popes unjustly pronounced their primacy over eastern Patriarchs. He also concluded that Union of Brest and Union of Uzhorod, were artificial creations which allowed western nations to take advantage of Ukrainians, making them their servants and slaves.
In 1947, after Andrei Sheptytsky died, Kostelnik will be one of three men of The Initial Committee, which will organize Lviv "Council". The "Council" will "annul" Union with Catholic Church, and declare that all Ukrainian Greek - Catholic Christians are members of Russian Orthodox Church. That will put Greek - Catholic Church in a very hard position. It will have to go to the underground for forty five years.
After he Lviv "Council" was over, Kostelnik got the highest honors a married priest can get. He became archdeacon. At that time he was pastor of Holy Transfiguration parish. On 20 September, 1946, after he completed serving the mass he headed home, which was located near the church. When he was about to open the door, suddenly a man got out of the car and assassinated Kostelnik with a machine gun. After he completed his malicious mission, the assassin committed suicide. He was never identified.
Kostelnik was buried on The Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv, cemetery where honorable and prominent persons were buried. His funeral was attended, at least according to some Soviet authors, by around 40,000 people. Church leaders decided to inform the highest Soviet administrators of "the great loss" they suffered. Among others, J.V. Stalin and Nikita Chruschev were contacted.
But who was the assassin ? Was it just a sole action of an individual? Communists tried to convince their citizens that this was action of a western agent who was hired by the Pope, as part of revenge plan against Kostelnik's affiliations towards Eastern (Orthodox ) Church.
Some blamed Ukrainian nationalists, who apparently killed him for treason of Ukrainian Greek - Catholic Church, which always defended Ukrainian rights, and played a key role in forming of Ukrainian identity and politics.
After fall of communism and disintegration of the USSR, the third theory arose. Kostelnik was probably killed by communist apparatus. After Kostelnik broke the relation East - West, shut the influence of the West on the people, Stalin accomplished what he wanted - the absolute ideological power over Ukrainians, and Kostelnik's "mission" was over. But still, he had to pay for his nationalistic, militant anti - communist and anti - Stalinist views of the past. Stalin might have wanted to get rid of Kostelnik in a very delicate manner. In the eyes of the people Kostelnik was made a martyr and a hero. The kind of hero who could not speak and jeopardize Stalin's plans for the future.
JANKO FEJSA (1904-1983)
Janko Fejsa was born on 13 August, 1904, in Kocur.He was one of the Founding Fathers of the Literature of Vojvodina Rusys. His childhood and almost all his life he spent in his native village. For a short time though, he lived in Niš, Serbia.
The first six grades of the Primary Shool, Fejsa completed in Kocur. He attended Grammar School in Croatia, in Zagreb, Varaždin and finally in Ilok. In order to become a teacher, he had to attend school in Križevci. He receives his diploma in 1926.
His first job as a teacher was in his home - village, Kocur. After that, he teaches children in a nearby town, Verbas and Savino Selo (at that time - Torža).
Young Fejsa starts writing already in Grammar School, in 1921. Unnfortunately, when he was comming home, somebody stole his knap - sack, and with it all his early works.
Like many others, Fejsa, too appears for the first time in public in Ruski Kalendar, calendar for 1925. The poem was called Brothers, let's spread.
He published three books of poetry:
Bud (1929) Green lieves (1964) Rustling Wheat Ears (1970)
Janko Fejsa is one of the first poets who translate other poets into Rusyn. He managed to translate works Serbian writters, such as Desanka Maksimović and Jovan Jovanović Zmaj.
Although it appears to be logical, to acknowledge that his literary work begins in 1925, the author himself disagrees. He wanted to mark the 50 anniversary of his literary work in l971 by publishing Seeds of the Heart Sencere. However, Ruske Slovo, the only publishing house which was available to Rusyns at that time, made a request for a few changes the author could not agree to. Therefore, he never lived to see this collection of children's rhymes and skatches printed. The book was published only after its author already passed away.
He died in Kocur, on 3 October, 1983.