By Jessica Easthope
Money and supplies can be sent, voices of support can be heard, but for Ukrainians living in the Diocese of Brooklyn, right now, the most powerful defense in this fight is prayer.
This past weekend, people gathered at Guardian Angel Church in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn for a Mass of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
“I don’t know how to say it, it’s really great that all the world answered for this and gave us support,” said Father Sergiy Emanuel, the parish administrator.
Fr. Sergiy Emanuel is trying to be strong for his parish community, but like so many of them, he too is worried about his family and trying desperately to get some of them over the border into Poland.
“If I see the pictures, when all the men are crying, I try not to cry,” he said.
His only comfort is knowing the world is standing with his people, especially his shepherd – Bishop Robert Brennan.
“My heart breaks with your heart but we are filled with that same sense of hope and that hope comes to us because of Jesus Christ who faced evil right in the eyes and rose over sin and death,” said Bishop Brennan.
On Sunday, parishioners at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Williamsburg, Brooklyn marched to Holy Ghost Ukrainian Church to express their unity. Though demonstrations are a display of solidarity, people like Vironika Giacchi want to do more.
“I should be there, every Ukrainian should be there, but I can’t. There are no flights. I try to be as helpful as I can, send money, join protests but I should be there to fight,” she said.
In anticipation of the Russian invasion, Vironika took a first-aid class expecting to go back to Ukraine and help defend her country. But now she’s left with no choice but to stand by her family from 5,000 miles away. Speaking with her mother she said she’s not afraid but ready to fight.
“She said ‘we’re going to fight until we die and we’re not going to give up on the freedom of my country. I’ll die before I become a slave,’ I’m not going to do it,” she said.
Around the globe and in the Diocese of Brooklyn – the prayers for peace continue and so does the hope.
Guardian Angel Church is collecting money along with emergency and medical supplies, anything from bandages to air mattresses can be dropped off at the parish.
Guardian Angel Church
2978 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11235