YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — On Sunday at Youngstown’s Byzantine Center at the Grove, stuffed cabbage dinners will be served as a fundraiser for the people of Ukraine. But this is more than just a fundraiser. For the pastor of the Byzantine Catholic Churches, this is personal.
Inside Youngstown’s 105-year-old St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church with its three domes overlooking Wilson Avenue Father Mykhaylo Farynets sat in front of the ornate altar and talked about his family in Ukraine.
“Some of our relatives are in the war. They’re fighting in the Ukrainian army,” said Father Farynets. “My wife’s parents were helping refugees. So a family will live in their house.”
Father Farynets, his wife Maryna, and one of their three children came to the United States in 2014 and came to Youngstown a year later. He’s not surprised by the Russian atrocities.
“The only reason they have toward us is to hate us, and to always submit to them completely losing our identity as a nation,” said Father Farynets.
His home in Ukraine is in the Zakarpatia region of Ukraine near Slovakia.
“It’s one of the regions that were never bombed or never attacked. So that’s why were are that region right now is actually a hub for the people, for the refugees,” said Father Farynets.
Father Farynets was noncommittal when asked if the United States should send in troops. “We will appreciate any help,” he said.
What many people call stuffed cabbage, Father Farynets calls Halupki, and he knows exactly where the money’s going from Sunday’s sales.
“We’re trying to raise money to send it to our Eparchy of Mukachevo. It’s like the diocese for the Byzantine Catholics in that region where I live,” said Father Farynets.
Father Farynets has a striking resemblance to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “Yes, they told me a couple of times already, especially my parishioners. Yes,” he said. It’s a resemblance he’s proud of. “He became really an iconic figure. Not being scared.”
The stuffed cabbage or Halupki dinner is Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Byzantine Center at the Grove on Shady Run Road in Youngstown. It’s take-out only. They can be bought individually, by the dozen, or with the dinner. It’s recommended people call ahead and pre-order at 330-782-6388.