Joining their prayers together for the citizens of Ukraine, hundreds of people from across Northeast Ohio took part in a special prayer service for an end to the violence resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The service, which took place March 6 in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, was led by Bishop Edward Malesic.
(Click HERE to watch the entire prayer service.)
“We gather to pray for peace in response to the unbelievable cruelty and violence we are witnessing against the people of the Ukraine,” the bishop told the gathering. “You share my horror at the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the senseless deaths of innocent people and the destruction taking place within their country. I know there are many people of Ukrainian descent here in our community who have loved ones who are currently in harm’s way. For you and for them, I offer the prayers and the support of our Catholic community.”
Father Volodymyr Hrytsyuk, rector of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Parma, was invited to offer a special reflection. He shared with those gathered a short list of three meaningful actions we should all consider.
“I am asking you to pray for the Ukrainian people, to be the spiritual warriors of peace. The unjust war that is always instigated by the devil needs to be overcome by prayer and fasting. Please don’t be silent and speak out to the American public and the American authorities to help alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people. I am also asking you to speak up and help open the borders for the Ukrainian refugees to be able to come to the United State," he said.
The prayer service was enriched by Taize prayer and accompaniment by musicians and a vocalist from Gesu Parish in University Heights.
Father Robert Reidy, senior parochial vicar at Mary Queen of the Apostles Parish, and Sister Rita Mary Harwood, who retired last year after serving the diocese for many years as secretary of parish life and development, organized the event.
“I feel it is very important for us to come together as a community in prayer in support of the Ukrainian people, said Sister Harwood. “For us to be able to come and pray asking God for blessings on all of them and blessings on all of us. I do have a particular concern for the people who live here in our Northeast Ohio area who have family in Ukraine. I can imagine the pain and the anguish that they feel as they watch what is happening and as they try to contact their families. And so for us to come together as a community and pray is really very appropriate.”
“Pope Francis reminded us this week that ‘God is with those who work for peace, not with those who use violence,’” Bishop Malesic added. “In a special way, we ask our Blessed Mother, Mary, Queen of Peace, to pray for us for an end to this and all war. Let this time of prayer be an expression of our desire as people of faith to come together, to work together and pray together to make our world a place of peace, of hope, and of welcome to every person.”