Halyna Barbulyak

* 1971

  • “Most of our churches were closed [during the Soviet Union times]. Still, believers would gather in front of the churches where services were held and holidays celebrated, such as the consecration of the Paskha [a basket with Easter food] at Easter. Many Greek Catholic parsons were evicted to the Siberia, as the Greek Catholic Church was forced to convert to the Orthodox rite in 1946. Those who refused to were sent to the Siberia. Their entire families were persecuted. It was a very tough time for Greek Catholic communities. Schools didn’t allow children to take part in services. Teachers monitored whether or not we went to church. I remember we had to go to school every time on Sunday at Easter; they played games with us, read stories for us, and kept us busy just so we didn’t stay at home and go to church to have the Paskha consecrated. The Easter traditions in Galicia, our region, are quite specific – we sing songs about the spring and resurrection in front of the church, children play and run around, and bells ring. It is a lovely tradition and they wanted to take it away from us, along with our entire faith. You don’t really live if you don’t know your nation’s history, songs and literature – your nation’s culture. You can’t be a normal person that way. I see something similar happening now. Back then, teachers had to list the children who went to church. They called them in and asked them and their parents why they went to church. The children were ashamed among their schoolmates. Today, our Greek Catholic faith is permitted again, and it’s a great joy.”

  • “It was really tough to earn money. They didn’t pay any salaries at all. The currency was changing at the time; instead of money, there were coupons for essential food. We would cut a coupon and get 200 grams of butter for it, having had to wait in a queue twice. There was no money as such – my father got paid in kind. For example, they gave him a box of little ducklings. At work, people could choose between taking the ducks or being listed as those waiting for the pay that someone might perhaps pay them one day. So, dad came back home with a box of ducklings. We took them to the grandma, she raised them, and at least we had some good meat in the autumn.”

  • “I knew what the trident was and what it meant thanks to grandpa. He was a blacksmith and a very strong man – he could carry 70 kilos on a single finger. In the evening, however, he would sit at the table, be sad and even weep sometimes. My brother and I couldn’t understand why such a strong man would cry. We asked him, and he said he wanted freedom. We didn’t understand, so he grabbed a piece of paper and drew the trident, the tryzub, our Ukrainian coat of arms, and said this was our freedom. And then he burned the paper so nobody could see it and he wouldn’t be punished for it.”

  • Full recordings
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    Hradec Králové, 30.03.2022

    duration: 01:55:48
    media recorded in project Memory of Ukraine
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Hitler’s war tore the family apart. Putin’s war reunited it.

Halyna Barbulyak with grandmother Anna
Halyna Barbulyak with grandmother Anna
photo: archiv pamětníka

Halyna Barbulyak (née Maslihan) was born in Novyi Rozdil, Mykolaiv District, Lviv Oblast on 6 November 1971. When she was about three years old, she heard from the Polish part of their family separated as a result of World War II developments for the first time since the war. Unfortunately, they could not reunite. Halyna studied at a high teaching school, first in Oleksandria in the Kryvyi Rih area and later in Sambir closer to her birthplace in the Lviv Oblast. When independent Ukraine was declared in 1991, Halyna started teaching at a primary school while studying at the Ternopil teaching university. While a student, she met Ivan Babulyak, a boy from her hometown, and the two married in 1992 before he took the oath, becoming a Greek Catholic parson. Their first daughter Mariana was born one year later. The family left to the first parish in the village of Vybranivka where their second child, a son, was born to them. The Polish part of the family contacted them again, but they considered the situation in Ukraine so unsafe in the 1990s that no reunion took place. From 2000, Halyna Barbulyak taught religious ethics at a primary school. In 2019, she relocated to the Czech Republic to her daughter and grandchildren; the daughter had settled in Pardubice with her husband who is also a Greek Catholic parson. Halyna Barbulyak found a job in Prague and would regularly visit her daughter’s family. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she helped the refugees who came to the Czech Republic in large numbers beginning in late February 2022. During the summer of the year, her husband arrived in the Czech Republic as well and took the position of a parson in Kutná Hora where the numbers of Greek Catholics multiplied as a result of the arrival of refugees from Ukraine. Halyna’s son also became a Greek Catholic priest in early 2023. The parts of the family separated due to the developments at the end of World War II finally reunited on this occasion. Unfortunately, many members of both families had died before this could happen.