Catholics prep day of prayer for peace in Ukraine
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This article was published 01/03/2022 (464 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Already praying daily for his home country, Rev. Mykhaylo Khomitskyy welcomes the additional support of Catholics hoping for peace in Ukraine.
For the second time in five weeks, Pope Francis has called upon Catholics around the world to unite Wednesday in a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Ukraine.
“The call from Pope Francis is very important because the war is not only between Russia and Ukraine, but it is also a war between good and evil,” said Khomitskyy, priest at St. Basil’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Winnipeg.
“Prayer is one of the most effective channels to stop the bloodshed in Ukraine.”
The Ukrainian-born priest, who has family in the eastern European nation, has led daily prayers at his St. James neighbourhood church since Russia invaded Feb. 24. Sometimes, he’s joined by church members and others, he’s praying in an empty church with parishioners watching via livestream.
“I know many of us are praying at the same time, but I know not everyone is able to come,” he said of the daily prayers, held at 8 p.m.
The worldwide day of prayer falls on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, when Christians are called to pray, fast and do good works in the six weeks leading to Easter, said Rev. Darrin Gurr, director of liturgy for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Winnipeg.
Ukrainian Catholics follow a slightly different calendar; their first day of Lent fell on Feb. 28.
This season is also special because it’s the first time Christians have been able to pray together in person during Lent or Easter after two years of lockdowns or gathering restrictions, said Gurr, priest at St. Gianna Beretta Molla Roman Catholic Church.
“As we come through the pandemic, we’re learning we are a global community,” said Gurr, who planned to lead Ash Wednesday services at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
“We are mindful of each other’s struggles and blessings.”
Canadians of Ukrainian descent have felt that sense of community and support in recent weeks, said Archbishop Lawrence Huculak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Winnipeg.
Having Pope Francis dedicate another day to pray for peace comforts Ukrainians Catholics in Canada and in Ukraine, says Huculak, who says it is always the responsibility of Christians to pray — and advocate — for peace and justice wherever people are suffering.
“We line ourselves up with human justice and for the right of people to vote,” said Huculak, also metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada.
“For us, the issue is freedom and self-determination.”
In addition to attending prayers at local churches, Winnipeggers can log into a virtual national vigil for Ukraine at 12 noon (CST) Wednesday, organized by the Catholic social justice organization Development and Peace.
“I believe in the power of prayer, but I also believe in the power of people praying together,” said Winnipeg-based staff Jason Cegayle, who will lead a portion of the prayers.
“It’s giving the sense of the spirit of solidarity as we are connected with each other in faith.”
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Brenda Suderman has been a columnist in the Saturday paper since 2000, first writing about family entertainment, and about faith and religion since 2006.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.