My trip back to Monastyrec, Poland
by Mike Kilyk / USA

My parents arrived in October 1949 to NY, but had to stay on the ship for an extra day because they arrived on Columbus Day. My mother and father were actually next door neighbors in Monastyrec and ended up somehow in Aschaffenburg at the same time, even though my mother, grandmother, aunt and uncle were taken by the Germans in the summer of 1943 and I'm not sure how my father got with them; so, they were married in Aschaffenburg, as were some of their friends and neighbors.

Luckily, my grandmother had been to the U.S. in the early 1900's and my Uncle Wasyl and Uncle Ivan were born in eastern Pennsylvania (Shamokin I think), so Uncle John (Ivan) left Monastyrec around 1934/5? for America, but left his older brother Wasyl to stay home (Wasyl was born in 1909 and died in 1981, John was born in 1911 and died in 1998), so they were "sponsored" by Uncle John and then when Uncle Wasyl arrived in NY with my grandmother he was able to sponsor my mother and father.

I had to take the train from Berlin to Bartoszyce/Olstyn (Poland) in order to take a bus to Galiny; the bus dropped me off in front of the cemetery and I saw the tombstone for Naberezna, so I knew I was in the right town.

There were a lot of Kilyks in Monastyrec and it's a lovely little village that had about 400 houses and the church is at the lower end, not too far from the river San. My parents were at the "upper/higher" end of the selo, about 3-5km from church. (I often wonder if I could ever get my mother's house back). The church has been taken over by the Polish Roman Catholics and I've been inside it twice.

There was an old woman I met on my first trip to Monastyrec and the church and some workers were doing a bit outside of the church, when she came up to me and my cousin Michael (he lives in Zbarash, Ukraine) and whispered to me in Ukrainian, "Are you Ukrainian?" and I answered, "Yes." And she said, "I pray that someday our church will be Ukrainian again," so she didn't want the Poles to hear her...but there are only a handful of Ukrainians left in the little selo (town) and I doubt if the church ever returns to the Byzantine Catholics.

Although I was born in NJ, I can't explain to you how 'at home' I felt when I arrived in Monastyrec. Maybe it's because my parents always spoke so fondly of their poor little 'selo' and their hard life, but I sometimes think that if I live long enough to enjoy some retirement years, I'd like to spend time there.

My mother and father were married in Aschaffenburg in November of 1947 (they left for America in October of 1949; I have no idea as to how many Ukes were held there, but it was my mother, her sister and her brother-in-law, and her oldest brother and sister-in-law)...I was able to visit the "camp" back in 1986 (a friend was working in Frankfurt and drove me out there) and walked around but they wouldn't let us in any of the buildings.


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