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Introduction
  • Introduction

  • St. Michael the Archangel

  • Easter Greetings/ Christos Voskres

  • Cholera Cemetery

  • Gwardia Ludowa Monument

  • St. Demetrius Fence Project

  • In the Carpathian foothills of southeastern Poland, there is a cluster of villages not far from the town of Gorlice. For many centuries, the villages of Pielgrzymka, Klopotnica, Folusz and Wola Cieklinska were populated by Rusyn peasants who shared a common language and Eastern religion. Living in the rhythms of agricultural seasons and liturgical cycles--the alternate fasting and feasting of their faith, our ancestors raised their families, farmed the relatively infertile land, logged the forests and herded sheep.

    The countryside is beautiful; the history is tragic. Poverty led to heavy emigration in the late 1800's and early 1900's. The homeland later became a battleground upon which mighty empires and nations twice fought in devastating world wars. Forced transfers in 1944-1946 and a final brutal deportation in 1947 robbed the Rusyn peasants of their farms, homeland and heritage.

    What remains? Today, only eight Rusyn families live in these villages. Of the two churches which served our ancestors--both Greek Catholic at the time of great immigration, only St. Michael the Archangel in Pielgrzymka remains--a small Orthodox community now served by the Gorlice priest. The 150 year old St. Demetrius the Great Martyr church in Wola Cieklinska was destroyed in 1953. Both church cemeteries with their tilting and broken crosses serve as memories of a fading culture. A Talerhof memorial and three military cemeteries are sad reminders of ethnic hatred, violence and war. Farther afield can be found wooden churches tucked among forests and an outdoor museum with architectural examples of the Lemko-Rusyn culture.

    What remains? Far more than these few structures and stones. Land trod upon by our ancestors. Hallowed land.






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