A service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral pays tribute to the victims of the war in Ukraine

NEW YORK (CNS) – New York’s Ukrainian Catholics and other faithful found community and comfort June 11 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral where Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Archbishop Borys Gudziak, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, led an evening memorial prayer service for victims of the war in Ukraine.

It was a traditional service for the deceased, known in the Eastern Catholic Church as “panakhyda”. The Ukrainian Dumka Choir from New York sang and throughout the service there were prayers and readings in English and Ukrainian.

Many faithful gathered to pray for family members and friends in their homeland and for the very future of the country, which was invaded by Russian forces on February 24.

Archbishop Gudziak, who is also responsible for the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s external relations around the world, estimated that during the duration of the 45-minute service, another 10 to 20 Ukrainians would be killed and another 60 injured. He said the total number of dead Ukrainians cannot be accurately counted because many of those killed were buried in mass graves.

After the service, the Archbishop told PIX 11 News reporter Magee Hickey that to help Ukraine, people need to “pray, be informed, plead and help as much as you can.”

“There are a lot of people who need food, medicine and the country needs defensive help,” he added.

According to Hickey, one estimate puts the amount of relief American Catholics have given to Ukrainians at $100 million.

Cardinal Dolan said many Americans are surprised by the “deep faith” of the Ukrainian people. “They didn’t realize how loyal they are and have such beautiful religious diversity – Jewish, Islamic and Christian.”

In May, the cardinal made a brief visit to Lviv, Ukraine, as part of a trip by a church delegation from New York to visit and express solidarity with Ukrainian refugees, including those from countries bordering Poland and Slovakia.

Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, Latin Rite Archbishop of Lviv, met with leaders of the Ukrainian Catholic University, families of displaced Ukrainians who found refuge during the war and student volunteers.

The American Prelate told the Religious Information Service of Ukraine that he was surprised and inspired by the Ukrainians he met. “I thought I would come to Ukraine and see a great depression,” he said. “Yes, I see sadness and pain, but I am impressed by the vitality, hope and solidarity of Ukrainians.”

At St. Patrick’s Cathedral after the prayer service, Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, told Pix 11’s Hickey that Ukraine would win the war. “Victory is imminent. It will unfortunately cost more extra lives,” he said.

As she left St. Patrick’s Day, Ukrainian New Yorker Sofika Pysanky said: “Yeah, we’re going to (win). If we don’t, it will be the end of Ukraine.

More than 13 million people have fled their homes since Russia invaded Ukraine, according to the United Nations. Nearly 5 million people have left for neighboring countries, while 8 million people are believed to be displaced within Ukraine itself, according to the UN.

The global body also estimated that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have returned to their home countries, especially to cities.

Read more Crisis in Ukraine

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