Prayer service marks one year of war, highlights sacrifices made by Ukrainians

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IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. Hundreds of people packed St. Josephats Church in Irondequoit to mark the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine.

The prayer service honored those who died as well as those who are still fighting for the freedom of Ukraine.

Churchgoers stood side by side with lit candles in the pews of St. Josephats. It’s been a year filled with pain and sorrow. They are hoping with a lot of prayers they can win this war.

There was a solemn energy in the air. However, many are holding on to their faith to see this war come to an end. Men have lost their sons; women have lost their husbands and sons. Thousands have lost their lives. There are cemeteries in Ukraine filled with dead bodies.

“I’m Ukrainian and I have a lot of family in Ukraine,” Irene Adamczuksiolaowsky said. “It’s very heartfelt to see the tragedy that is happening there.”

Many Ukrainians believe that this is a tight-knit community, especially when facing adversity. They explained Ukrainians are resilient and will persevere.

“One of the messages that father had was if you have faith and believe it will happen,” Myron Kowal said. “And so, I am here with faith and believe that we will have victory.”

Pastor Philip Weiner believes Ukraine will see victory, although he understands many are having a tough time with the loss of family and worry about their loved ones living in the middle of the war, struggling and not knowing what will happen next. His message to help them cope is to stay in faith.

“We gain faith and hope through our prayer,” Pastor Weiner said. “Through our intercession with almighty God to his blessed mother to the saints begging them to intercede with our intentions.”

The war started during the Lent season last year, a season that is about sacrifice. That’s exactly what those who have lost their lives and those who are fighting in this war are doing.

“I don’t feel it’s right to hold any grudges,” Pastor Weiner said. “We are angry. We are upset. Perhaps maybe our anger and disappointment must be transformed into prayer.”