As the sun rises over the lush hills, most villagers are still asleep, except for a handful that have gathered inside the Greek Catholic church. “We don’t have many believers, but those we have are always excited to come,” says the priest, Oleg Grigorik, as he greets the crowd in Chornoholva, a Ukrainian village located a stone’s throw away from the Slovakian border.
This region has shifted borders many times in history, creating a patchwork of ethnic and religious diversity. “During the Soviet Union, it was prohibited to be affiliated with the church. After the fall of communism in the 1990s, people returned. Currently, the number of believers is lower, but we’re not trying to get more followers—we work to have people who have faith in life,” says Pavlo Fitsay, a Greek Catholic priest in neighbouring Uzhhorod.
Dotted with historical wooden churches and icons, religion retains a strong presence in both Eastern Slovakia and Western Ukraine—a reminder of the not-so-distant past. This story documents the various religious communities, weaving together the diversity present.
Commissioned for Are We Europe's Losing Our Religion? issue.