A brief history of the League of Ukrainian Catholics of America (LUC)
The League of Ukrainian Catholics of America was formed in August 1933 in Chicago, IL, through the efforts of members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church community in the United States and Canada, along with the clergy in Chicago.
History of the Organization and Work of the Ukrainian Catholic Youth League by Stephani Blidy – information taken from LUC Archives, Stamford, CT:
“In view of the fact the 1933 was the year of the World’s Fair, and that the week of August 13-19 was Ukrainian Week, some of the young people of Chicago formed a Temporary Committee for the purpose of having a Convention of the Ukrainian Youth from the United States and Canada in order that they might organize a League. Members of the Committee were: Vera Spikula, Mary Dziawronyk, Helen Bahry, Staphanie Blidy, Bohdan Katamay, John Kaniuk and Steve Schurko.”
At this time our country was in the midst of a Great Depression. The clergy of St. Nicholas, Chicago, IL responded to the requests of the youth of the Eparchy, and the needs of the parishioners and they worked very hard to give them both Spiritual solace and assistance with their many problems. In response to these needs, the youth organized the Ukrainian Catholic Youth League (UCYL) organization now called the League of Ukrainian Catholics (LUC). It was intended to provide religious and social activities for the Ukrainian American/Canadian Youth and also to provide an opportunity for the children of the new immigrants to be able to socialize with their peers in and through the Church community.
Some early facts:
The UCYL/LUC published a magazine, the “Ukrainian Youth”, written in both Ukrainian and English with a subscription rate of $1.50 per year beginning in 1934.
It is written that this magazine has been “friend and teacher encouraging us, inspiring us, teaching to love our own, our church, and country”. All this time it has been anchoring brother to brother, brother to sister, parents to children and children to parents. It has been enlightening us, the members of the Ukrainian second generation on this continent, about the faith and country of our fathers. It has been striving to show us the beauty of our faith, rite, and nationality and the reasons for the subjugation of Ukraine. It has been awakening in us a lover for all that is Ukrainian, and instilling in us the determination to defend our own, be it Church or country.”
The LUC continues to publish a periodical under the title of “Action”. This publication was issued regularly by the former editor Harry V. Makar and currently published from the Niagara Frontier Council by Father Marijan Procyk.
The UCYL/LUC was not just a social organization. As it grew, it focused its attention on the need to keep our Religious heritage alive as well as our Ukrainian identity. The membership in their local Councils/Chapters engaged themselves in their parishes, working closely with the Hierarchy and clergy to keep our Ukrainian Catholic Rite and identity ever visible.
The following are some highlights of the various activities of the League of Ukrainian Catholics that evolved from the early structure of the Ukrainian Catholic Youth League.
The League has held Annual National Conventions from the founding of the League (earlier referred to as a Congress) up to the present time. During the war years, the membership ceased to gather, however resumed at the end of those times – 1948. This year we celebrate the 79th Convention and the 85th Anniversary of the founding of the organization.
It is written in some of the early annals (1938) of the UCYL/LUC that there were “Track and Field” meets held during the conventions. The “track and field” events became known as the Sports Rally in later years. These rallies were organized separately from the Conventions. The Sports Rallies were held annually in the Spring where the membership competed in various sporting events. Events such as bowling, golfing, tennis matches, trap shooting, youth putting course, ping pong, billiards etc. were the regular activities, as well as other events for the younger children. The Sports Rallies brought together the young families of the parishes and through these events, the young children formed friendships that have lasted well into their middle years.
In keeping with our Constitution’s first purpose, that is “To promote the personal sanctification of each individual member. By personal example to draw others to a deeper love for God through the practice of our Catholic Faith in the Ukrainian Rite” the officers of the National Board and under the direction of the Spiritual Director, Rev. John P. Stevensky, a program of Annual Retreats was begun in July of 1977 and continues until today. In the early years two retreats were held – one in English and one in Ukrainian. Currently, the English retreat continues to enroll participants for the Lenten period.
Sometime in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s, the National Board of Directors began a program of support for “vocations”. During the annual Convention, a monetary award was presented to a young seminarian to help in his studies. Later, in 1980, during the convention at Johnstown, PA, a “pledge drive” began and funds were collected that allowed the League to open several Burse Accounts that would then draw interest, that would be gifted to not only seminarians, but it was voted upon to help all – religious men, women and those in the seminary, from all Eparchies, to further their studies.
School Endowment Fund:
The second purpose of the League is Educational. In the late 1970s, the membership and the Board of Directors initiated the Sr. John Paskevich School Endowment Fund. The fund was established to grant to one of the Metropolia parochial schools a gift in the name of an exceptional student named by the school principal. This gift is given annually to a school in one of the Eparchies, on a rotating basis.
The League of Ukrainian Catholics, membership continues to work diligently in their local parishes and deanerys to keep the heritage of our Ukrainian Catholic Church alive and thriving. Each continues to support the activities of the Church, the League and each other.
May God continue to bless the membership of the League of Ukrainian Catholics and may He continue to guide us and provide us with new, joyful opportunities to serve Him.