Archdiocese of Chicago holds special prayer services at Holy Name Cathedral, others to stop Russia-Ukraine war in Kyiv

CHICAGO (WLS) – Support is pouring in around the world for Ukraine, including in Chicago.

Churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago are holding special Masses and Rosaries on February 26 and 27 to pray for peace and an end to war.

Holy Name Cathedral is holding a service at 9:00 a.m. Saturday.

At least three different churches across the Chicagoland area are holding a mass on Saturday to pray for peace in Ukraine. At a Catholic church in Willow Spring on Friday evening, there was a special mass.

A large group of supporters joined Ukrainians living in Chicago at a rally in Millennium Park Friday night, begging for help from President Biden and the United States.

What started as a group of a few dozen quickly grew to more than 1,000 as protesters marched down Michigan Avenue.

Thousands of people in the Chicago area have ties to Ukraine. It is estimated that approximately 200,000 Ukrainian Americans live in Illinois, including more than 50,000 in Chicago. Many have family and friends who are currently under attack in Ukraine.

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“What will happen tonight is unpredictable,” said Anatoliy Mushak, a Ukrainian from Chicago. “They are under siege right now.”

“Ukrainians are hoping President Biden will impose aggressive sanctions,” Andrew Sobko said.

Many Chicago employees of Sobko’s import/export company are Ukrainians. And about 50 of its employees and their families are currently in Ukraine. They hid in bomb shelters that have existed since World War II. Sobko’s 60-year-old father joined the Ukrainian army.

“My dad said there were huge queues,” Sobko said. “He said people signed up…to defend their freedom.”

Ukrainians in Chicago and the suburbs have been gathering to pray and show support since the Russian invasion began.

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“It’s heart-warming,” said protester Stephan Marchuk. “Chicago has a large Ukrainian population. That’s the best we can do.”

Caravans of cars were spotted all over the city, honking and waving Ukrainian flags. Meanwhile, Vladyslav Levinskyi holds his breath, trying to communicate with his family.

“They hear all the sounds of war and bombs and all that,” he said. “They’re sitting in the basement.”

His 83-year-old father and older brother have decided to stay in Kyiv while Levinskyi’s 15-year-old son runs to the western border with other relatives.

“They’re still in Ukraine. They’re moving there because the roads are overcrowded. It’s congested. And that makes it a lot more difficult,” Levinskyi said.

Maria Dziuma grew up in Ukraine when it was under Soviet control, and most of her family remains there.

“They just went to the basement. They’re trying to put water and supplies there. And they say, this is our land. We’re not going to go there,” she said.

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Maria Klimchak shared photos of family friends in Kiev, who got married in a church on Thursday and took up arms to fight the Russians on Friday.

“They’re in the army. The volunteer army. I can’t even imagine, it’s their honeymoon for the young couple,” Klimchak said.

The children of the school of Saint Nicholas Cathedral turned to their faith.

“I have faith in God that God will lead our country to peace. We will be a free country again,” student Uriana Rybak said.

Many Ukrainian families endured another sleepless night saying the sanctions against Russia were not enough.

“It’s not enough,” said mother Iryna Lyuta. “Sanctions take time to work. It’s not enough time. People are dying.”

“A lot of Ukrainians will fight, and they will kill the most wonderful and beautiful people, the patriots,” Dziuma said.

At a press conference at the Ukrainian Cultural Center, Senator Dick Durbin agreed that the current sanctions were not enough, but said more were on the way.

“They’re not enough. They’re not enough at the moment, but there are other penalties coming. I don’t know all of them,” Durbin said. “I would impose tougher sanctions, the sooner the better, to the point where it is clear that it directly affects the Russian people and their leadership.”

Deana Lozak teaches religion at St. Nicholas Cathedral School. Her message to the children there is to spread love in this time of uncertainty.

“It’s a tough time and I think the road ahead won’t be easy either, but with our faith and pride, it will be okay,” Kozak said.

ABC7 spoke with a woman in Ukraine who is struggling to keep herself and her family safe.

Kira Palatchenko was on vacation in Rio, Brazil, and arrived in Kyiv on February 21. She spoke to ABC7 via Zoom and said she heard loud noises outside.

Kira suspects that they are bombs dropped by Russian planes.

“We have to go to the bomb shelters… now my family is sleeping but I am not sleeping… I will wake them up to go to the bomb shelters,” she said.

Kira’s friend Maryana lives in Chicago and was also vacationing in Rio. Maryana said she has relatives and friends currently in Ukraine.

She said her family had moved from the city to a nearby village. They feel they will be safer there.

“I have friends trying to flee the country,” Maryana said. “They’re going to the border and they’ve been stuck in traffic for six hours… Some are going to Germany, some are going to Poland and you can’t quite describe the feeling I have.”

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