The Rusin Cultural Garden, on the upper and lower East Boulevard, between the Czech and Slovak Gardens, is the fourth garden in succession from the East Boulevard and St. Clair intersection. Set in a wooded glade sloping down to the lower boulevard by way of a spacious terrace overlooking Doan Brook, it has a sandstone terrace with parapets of brick and stone on the upper level. The Rusin Garden is sponsored by the Rusin Cultural Garden Association, headed by Reverend Joseph Hanulya, pastor of Holy Ghost Greek Catholic Church.
Plans for the Rusin Garden were drawn up and approved in 1938. Chief supporter of the Rusin Garden movement was the Rusin Educational Society, with the Reverend Joseph P. Hanulya as president, Dr. Eugene Mankovich as vice-president, Michael Surso as secretary, and Sig T. Brinsky as attorney.
The Rusin Garden plot was dedicated on June 25th, 1939. ceremonies began with a parade led by the Cathedral Latin High School Band. The opening address was by the Reverend Joseph P. Hunalya, president of the Rusin Cultural Garden Association, who alluded to the spot as a " shrine to the culture of all Rusins," as their garden joined the 28 other nationalities represented in the Cultural Garden League. The Garden site was blessed by the guest of honor, the Right Reverend Bazil Takach of Pittsburgh, Bishop of the Greek Catholic diocese of America. Bishop Takach led the litany, and in his address to the assemblage of over 1000 people of Rusin descent from Cleveland and Northern Ohio, urged, " with all your attention to the culture of your ancestors, do not forget to be loyal to this, our adopted country." Mayor Harold H. Burton expressed the wish for the continuance of Rusin culture in the city, because " Cleveland knows too little about your people and would like to know more." Dr. P. I. Zeedick, representative of the Greek Catholic Rusin Union of Pittsburgh reviewed the history of the oppressed Rusin people, and their noble struggle to preserve the elements of their ancient national culture. The Reverend Joseph Jackanich of Youngstown spoke about Alexander Duchnovich, Carpatho-Rusin poet. Other speakers were John W. Bricker, governor of Ohio, and Dr. Hugo Varga, director of Cleveland parks. National anthems and sacred chants were rendered by the combined choirs of Holy Ghost and St. Gregory's Greek Catholic Churches. At a banquet at Guildhall, Builders' Exchanged Building, following the dedication, plans for the further development of the Rusin Garden were discussed by members and officers of the Rusin Cultural Garden Association.
Father Alexander Basil Duchnovich
On May 25, 1952, a bust of Father Alexander Basil Duchnovich was unveiled in the Rusin Garden by Father Joseph Hanulya. Msgr. Tomislav Firis, pastor of St. Nicholas Parish, officiated at the ceremony. The work of Sculptor Frank Jirouch, the bust, at a cost of $1300, was made possible by donations contributed by those present at the Rusin Cultural Garden dedication in 1939. On it are inscribed the words, " I was, am, and always will be a Rusin" —written by Father Duchnovich when a political prisoner, as a reply to the court which offered him his freedom if he would renounce his Rusin tendencies. These words later became the nucleus of the Rusin National Anthem.
Father Duchnovich, Rusin priest, patriot, poet, educator, and author of the Rusin National Anthem, lived from 1803 to 1865. He is honored as the chief force in elevating the cultural standards of the Rusin people. Also distinguished as dramatist, historian, scholar, legislator, humorist, and philosopher, this priest in the Greek Catholic church consecrated his life to the enlightenment of his people, largely through writing and publishing books in the Rusin language. He carried on his dauntless struggle for universal education and a rebirth of the national spirit during a period of the darkest political, economic, and even moral eclipse. In addition to the National Anthem, he is famous for the Rusin national march, several primers for children, volumes of poems, plays and history, and—one of the most cherished treasures of the Rusin people—a prayer-book, "The Bread of the Soul."
Books Father Duchnovich defined as "selfless friends, faithful friends…a lighthouse in the darkness of doubts, an anchor in the tempests of passions." Father Duchnovich lives on, a hero in the truest sense, to his beloved Rusin people.
The Rusins are a Slavic race of Asiatic origin, from which stem the Russians and Ukrainians.
Prior to World War I, the Rusin people comprised a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the main, the Rusins lived in the Carpathian mountains, and were at times called Carpatho-Rusins.
In governmental and ecclesiastical documents the Rusins there are sometimes called Ruthenians.
Bishop Takach at Rusin Garden Dedication
Subsequent to World War I and as the creation of the Republic of Czechoslovakia the Rusin state, Ruthenia, was established as a part of the new republic.
Ruthenia is the eastern state of the said Republic of Czechoslovakia, however, large Rusin communities are found in the state of Slovakia which is adjacent to Ruthenia on its west.
The faith of the Rusins is Catholic. The rite is the old Bizantine-Slovanik of the Catholic Church.
A conscientious, thrifty, and homeloving people, they have enriched Cleveland's civic and cultural life by their love of independence and political liberty, by the splendid ???acapella choirs of their fellow Byzantine rites churches, and by sharing with their fellow citizens the Rusin Cultural Garden and the great work of their national hero, Father Duchnovich.
The spirit of the Rusin people, their history and their background are mirrored in the lovely garden which they have established as a part of the Cleveland Cultural Garden chain.
Parade to Rusin Cultural Garden on Dedication Day
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