Slovakia Research Forum

Question 37537
I was researching the name Dvoroznak in the village of Udol. I was told that Udol was the only Rusyn village in that region. I was told that I may be Rusyn, I always thought I was Russian. Are these names pronounced the same and what exactly is Rusyn?

Well, I'm going to violate the rule that I learned in Somerset County, PA (see my prior note). I want to comment on Rites. The Orthodox Church is catholic, like the Roman Catholic Church. They are in fact the two main branches of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church which split apart in the year 1054 (The Great Church Schism). The Roman Catholic Church is further divided into Rites. A Rite in the Roman Catholic Church is a church (within the Roman Catholic Church) that uses a distinctive, but catholic liturgy. There are many Rites within the Roman Catholic Church: Latin Rite, Byzantine Rite (Greek Catholic Rite), etc. The Orthodox Church is not divided into Rites. It is presently divided into 15 autocephalous (or independent) Orthodox Churches (aka Eastern Orthodox Churches). They are generally aligned to national orientations, for example, Russian Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Church, Antiochian (Syrian) Orthodox Church, Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Orthodox Church In America, etc. There are also several so called "Oriental" Orthodox Churches, such as the Coptic Orthodox Church, Armenian Orthodox Church, etc. Prior to 1596 and 1646, the Byzantine Rite Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Catholic Church were part of the Greek Orthodox Church (under the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople). Under Polish and Hungarian political intrigue, certain Orthodox Churches that were in their respective territories, now in Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, etc., were coaxed to leave the Orthodox Church and accept the Bishop of Rome (i.e., the Pope) as their head. These unions occurred as the result of the following two compacts: Church Union of Brest (in 1596) and the Church Union of Uzhhorod (in 1646). [The Orthodox Church calls the results of these two compacts the "Unia" and the Greek Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic Churches are called Uniate Churches. The Unia is one of the major issues of contention between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/13/97 21:31:00EDT

Dear Larry: Agreed and also lets take into account the high numbers of our people outright have left the churches, both Orthodox and the Greek Rite Catholic Church due to all of the silly nonsese that has gone on and will unfortunately go on always. Even here in America with all the education, modern ideas, etc., people are still arguing who is right and who is wrong, it is so stupid especially for a church. Also, sorry Rich, was speaking of the Greek Rite Catholic Church just just did not type out the entire sentence but thought everyone understood I was speaking of the Greek Rite Catholic Church. This is becoming quite a chat room!
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 11/13/97 11:20:00EDT

Hello Joy: You are correct. Let's thank God for creating the USA where people can belong to any religion that we want to. And, we will not reverse centuries of misunderstanding in this little forum. How many people visit this site? Maybe a few hundred, a thousand. There are millions who don't. Plus, it's our respective church leadership that need to talk (The Pope and the Patriarchs), and they don't want to. Too much power is at stake. So let's do what we say in Pennsylvania, at least in Somerset County: "We don't talk about religion or politics outside the bedroom." [I know I'm going to get a comment on this one too. This is America, right!] Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/13/97 12:20:00EDT

This is way off topic but since it's being discussed -- the term "Greek Rite" does not mean "Catholic"; the Orthodox Church also is "Greek Rite". "Rite" does not automatically imply "Catholic". The name of the particular Eastern Catholic Church of the Rusyns is Greek Catholic or Byzantine Catholic.
Submitted by R Custer on 11/13/97 12:08:00EDT

Larry, see my above statement, guess I should have said it a different way. As far as coming over to the Orthodox, well, that has been batted back and forth for some time, the Greek Rite took the Orthodox Church, the Orthodox took the Greek Rite Church, I can understand that way back when no one knew anything but the big shots, ok, I can go with that but why do people then still identify with Greek Rite Catholic and know that they are under the Pope today? I am not siding with one or the other, both sides have enough blame on them for all the back and forth and it will go on, unfortunately until the end of time as with all religions but to me, up in a little village far away from it all they would have just gone on and stayed in the "Greek Rite" church, maybe not knowing what that meant, but, I think they were more interested in just survial than who owned the deed to the church over there.
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 11/12/97 23:42:00EDT

Hi: If by some chance you run into a more truncated version of your Dvorovznak, keep me in mind! So far, I am back to about 1775 with the surname Dvorovy and Dvorovi spellings in Zamuto, Zemplin County, with others in Sookut, Rudlyo, etc. Somewhere along the line, the names may converge? please let me know if you should happen to see my surname in any of your village records, and I'll keep an eye out for variations with endings such as yours. Thanks, talk to you later, bye! Jim Dvorovy in Canton, Ohio
Submitted by Jim Dvorovy on 11/12/97 23:42:00EDT

Dear Irene: I too, am Rusyn and sorry to hear of the troubles you speak of in Poland. There have always been problems with the religious issues over there but, up in a village far away from everything what I was trying to say was I think most would have just gone on the way they were, I do not think such structure was apparent in a small village church as it became here (who belonged to what, etc) and to survive they adapted, such as under the communists, to keep their church open. All I can say is Thank God my people came to America as we are free here to discuss our views openly.
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 11/12/97 23:27:00EDT

Dear Joy, On two recent trips to Eastern Europe, I learned that unlike our country,some European nations simply prohibit freedom of religion. For example: in recent years, Poland has outlawed the Greek Catholic Church,and made them all Roman Catholic. There may have been more freedom of religion under the Socialist Regime (even tho the leaders were not religious) than there is presently in Poland. Also, I am Rusyn (English) Rusin (a variation of spelling) a Rusnak (singular) Russyni (plural, meaning sons of Rus) Ruteni (Latin), and other hyphenated descriptions. I prefer the term Rusyn, used most frequently in publications I have read.
Submitted by Irene Yurista Mikkelson on 11/12/97 14:18:00EDT

Hello Joy: I have a different opinion about your statement that if our people would have remained in Europe they would have remained Greek Catholic. Our people were originally Orthodox (from 1054) and they (the lay people) did not knowing "convert" to the Greek Catholic Rite or not truely understand what the Unia (the Church Union with Rome). The Unia was primarily due to political intrigue by the Polish gentry in 1596 and Hungarian action in 1646 which converted the Orthodox churches in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and later Austria Galizien, and the Orthodox Churches in Hungarian Ruthenia and Hungarian Slovakia to the Greek Rite Church. When our immigrant ancestors came to America they said that they were "Pravoslavny" (Orthodox), in most cases only their priests and bishops knew that they were no longer under the Orthodox Ecumencal Patriarch (Constantinople). Read the court transcripts of church conversion suits in Pennsylvania during the early 1900s. (relative to Saint Alexis Toth (Tovt). Thus, if our people had the education that we know many would have probably returned to the Orthodox Church, which has occurred (see biography of Saint Maksym Sandovich) and is still occurring in Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/12/97 11:41:00EDT

Dear Paul: Glad to see you found the right girl due to a discussion on who was what! It is my experience that alot of Rusyns became Orthodox here in America due to the problems with the Roman Catholic Hiearchy over title of property, married priests, etc. Due to this I assume most just picked up the name Russian because they were attending a Russian Orthodox church, the OCA did not get started until much, much later and they have now changed to become more of a "American" church (i.e. Christmas on Dec 25). Most Rusyn families have both Greek Rite and Orthodox in their families these days and I think if they had stayed in Europe, they would have stayed Greek Rite for the most part as they do not have the political stuff there such as we have here.
Submitted by Joy E. Kovalycsik on 11/12/97 09:34:00EDT

Here's one to add to the answers. Its because of this confusion between Russian and Carpatho-Russian and Rusyn, that I'm married today. When I first met my wife and we were discussing nationalities, she of course said she was Russian. As there is not a great Christian Russian enclave of "pure" Russians here in Chicago, what I call peple from the country called Russia, (Moscow, St. Petersberg, etc.) I of course questioned her answer and the great debate started, and 17 years later, were still discovering her Rusyn ancestry, though to give credit where its due, she is still a member of the Orthodox Church of America, i,e, following the Russian Orthodox ideals from a North American point of view. Watch out for those discussions, they can lead to years of wedded bliss!
Submitted by Paul Valasek on 11/12/97 01:32:00EDT

Ooops, I forgot to tell you that you can get the Map of Carpatho-Rusyn Settlement from the Carpatho-Rusyn Research Center, whose catalog is online at the web site Many excellent books are available from them too -- I recommend _Our People_ as a starting point. Good luck!
Submitted by R Custer on 11/11/97 17:04:00EDT

You will find out much more about your Rusyn heritage than can be described here if you spend time at -- also, I recommend the _Map of Carpatho-Rusyn Settlement_, a nearly definitive illustration of all Rusyn villages past and present in Central Europe. Usually the identification of Rusyn Americans as "Russian" dates from the MISTRANSLATION of the word Rusyn into English as Russian. In the past Rusyn was also translated as "Ruthenian" but we now prefer to leave Rusyn -- our own name in our own Rusyn language (and the original name of all Eastern Slavs) as simply RUSYN or CARPATHO-RUSYN. Russian Orthodox priests in the USA, imbued with the idea of Russian Messianism, and the idea that all Eastern Slavs were part of the Greater Russian Nation (whether they were Ukrainian, Galician Rusyn, Belarusian, or Carpatho-Rusyn / Lemko) also encouraged Rusyn Americans (including immigrants) in their churches to identify themselves in English as Russians. They in turn looked to everything Great Russian (language, culture -- folklore, traditions, church chant, and even ways of thinking) as their own and thus LOST THEIR IDENTITY. Modern ideas of nationality reject the possibility that Rusyns and Ukrainians are part of some supposed "Greater Russian Nation" although obviously, this way of thinking still exists.
Submitted by R Custer on 11/11/97 17:02:00EDT

Udol, just east of the town of Stara' L'ubovna is, historically, a Carpatho-Rusyn village. It is surrounded by other Rusyn villages: Hajtovka to the west, Orlov to the southeast and Starina to the northeast. It lies to the west of the greatest concentration of Rusyn settlement in present-day Slovakia.
Submitted by Tim Cuprisin on 11/11/97 08:50:00EDT

Hello: There are many, many Rusnak/Rusyn villages throughout northeastern Slovakia. An excellent map showing the location of all Rusnak/Rusyn villages throughout Slovakia was prepared by Andrew Perejda in 1979. It is called "Uhro-Rus', Ethnography -1906." and was published by the Greek Catholic Diocese of Passaic, New Jersey. It shows outlines the Magyar, Slovak, German, and Polish settlement areas in northeastern Slovakia. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/10/97 21:19:00EDT

Hello: Ms. Joy Kovalycsik, who often responds to questions here, has family in Udol. Find her e-mail address among the questions and contact her. She visited Udol last year to see family! Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/10/97 21:05:00EDT

Hello Mr./Ms. Troast. The word Rusyn, and Rusnak which I will describe below, mean "from Rus'" (or peoples from Rus', if you will); Rus' being the historical homeland of the people now occupying Ukraine, (including southwestern Ukraine, i.e., Transcarpathian region), southeastern Poland (Lemkovyna), and roughly northeastern parts of Slovakia. [In southeastern Poland and northeastern Slovakia Rusnaks/Rusyns have historically been among other peoples, e.g., Poles and Slovaks, respectively). Rusnak is the word that is indigenious to their language. Rusyn was developed from the Middle Latin word Rutheni, which is a Middle Latin word that means Russian (that's what my unabridged Webster dictionary states). Rutheni was developed sometime during the 1500-1600s when former Orthodox churches left Eastern Orthodoxy and accepted the See in Rome. I personally call myself either Rusnak or Carpatho-Russian to distinquish myself from Great Russians (or simply Russian). The terminology that one uses to identify himself often falls along ones religious preference. Those who are Orthodox prefer to say that they are Rusnak, Carpatho-Russian, or simply "Russian", here Russian being the general term of people occupying Rus' lands, not the more common meaning or connotation, i.e., a Great Russian, or a person who is a citizen of modern day Russia, the nation. If you are Byzantine Rite Catholic (Greek Catholic), they prefer to use the term Rusyn. It can get very heated sometimes over what term to use. We'll get alot of response on this one. Everybody has their point of view, the above is mine. Thus, call yourself whatever term you feel comfortable with. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 11/10/97 20:58:00EDT

Return to the archives forum question list