In the early 1980s, a collection of dreamers, of Ukrainian origin, met in Tallinn. Most of them studied at EKA: Viktor Šolomii, Andrii Stasevskii, Ivan Zubaka, Volodymyr Matijko, Volodymyr Makarenko, Volodymyr Gamal and others. Together, we journeyed to the Leningrad Academy of Arts to celebrate T. Shevchenko’s birthday. It was not until the collapse of the Soviet Union that we learned that these meetings had been organized by the KGB General.
Volodymyr Kalnenko, a teacher at the Academy of Arts, invited us reliable Ukrainian dreamers to his attic on the Vasilyev Peninsula in Leningrad. Frequenters of this attic included, for example, the artist brothers Gumenjukõd from Lviv, as well as teachers of the Greek Greek Catholic Church from Karaganda, who were operating under the floor at that time. We gave part of our scholarship to create a statue of T. Shevchenko in support of the Ukrainians detained in Leningrad and Perm. As 80% of the students of the Academy of Theology were of Ukrainian origin, a funeral train was organized there in honor of T. Shevchenko. These dreamers stayed with me for the rest of my life.
From the moment I decided to stay in Estonia, I dreamed of the Greek Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Cultural Center.
The first meetings were in my home in Tallinn, at the address Võrgu 13-6. It was there that Igor Svõrõda organised prayer evenings, as he understood them. The meetings took place both in Tallinn and Leningrad, and the candles used during the meetings were fused together into one. This candle remained in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Tallinn until 2017.
After that, I received a blessing as soon as possible from Blessed Volomyr Sternjuk for the registration and establishment of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Tallinn. V. Sternjuk also gave his blessing to Igor Svõrõda and also gave him items to be used in prayer (Igor knows more about these things). This is how my apartment became the official residence of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
At that time, official papers could also be written in Russian. Sergii Zubkov, together with Estonian law specialists, created the statute of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Tallinn congregation.
I am sincerely grateful to my wife and children for their patience, because for years, an infinite number of nice people stopped and gathered in our apartment. I am also grateful to my friends, church teachers, monks, nuns, Ukrainian dissidents, and the Estonian authorities for their help in establishing the Ukrainian church. From here, our circle of friends began to expand beyond Tallinn. Bogdan Cherepaha united us with the Greek Catholic people of Põlva, then the priest Pavlo Jahymets joined from Vilnius and it all kicked off!