Ukraine conflict: Catholics in Rome pray for peace

Ukraine conflict: Catholics in Rome pray for peace

Ukraine conflict: Catholics in Rome pray for peace.

Evening prayer at Rome’s Cathedral Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus on Feb. 25, 2022. / Hannah Brockhaus/CNA.

Rome, Italy, Feb 25, 2022 / 12:50 pm (CNA).

Catholics living in Rome met on Friday to pray for peace in Ukraine.

The small Cathedral Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus was filled to overflowing for vespers, or evening prayer, on the evening of Feb. 25, the day after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Some who attended the prayer service were passersby who noticed the Ukrainian church and stopped in to pray.

The church has been the Rome parish of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, a Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Church, since 1970. The church contains a copy of a miraculous Ukrainian icon, Our Lady of Zyrowice.

There are three Ukrainian Catholic parishes in Rome, as well as other churches which have Sunday Divine Liturgies in Ukrainian.

Cardinal Angelo de Donatis, vicar of the Diocese of Rome, opened the prayer service with a short address.

“We are here to ask God, with all our strength, to give us peace,” the cardinal said.

At the end of Vespers, Bishop Dionisio Paulo Lachovicz, apostolic exarch for the Ukrainian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Italy, addressed the congregation.

Msgr. Pierpaolo Felicolo, from the Rome diocese immigration office, said that the Ukrainian community “is a hardworking community, active in accompanying the elderly, in domestic work, and everyone is here with the prospect of being able to help relatives who have remained in Ukraine.”

“The concern is visible and palpable, because everyone has family members and friends who are fighting or refugees in subway stations,” Felicolo said.

According to the Diocese of Rome, the pastor of Saints Sergius and Bacchus cathedral, Father Taras Ostafiiv, said that the church “is open from 6:30 in the morning until late in the evening and many come even during the breaks from work to say a prayer. Everyone is in close contact with their families who are living this terrible war situation.”

Olga, a mother with one young child who is expecting another, said: “We’re praying, because what else can we do?”

Olga, who declined to give her full name, wanted to return this year to Ukraine to be closer to family. “But now…” she trailed off.

She said hadn’t slept all night and was receiving many messages from family and friends trying to escape Ukraine.

Some of her family is close to the western border with Poland. Other family members in the center of the country are trying to reach western Ukraine, which is believed to be safer.

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