Service for Deceased Remembers Victims of Russian Invasion of Ukraine


The Archdiocese of New York and the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia offered a Panakhyda (service for the deceased) for the victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine June 11 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Cardinal Dolan and Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia Borys Gudziak presided at the early evening service.  

The cardinal, in welcoming remarks, acknowledged the Ukrainian Catholic archbishop, stating, “We’re sure grateful to you for your leadership and for your initiative in gathering us this evening at St. Patrick’s.”

The service for the deceased included “prayers for peace and prayers for solace and comfort in eternal life for those who have lost their lives,” the cardinal said.

Archbishop Gudziak, addressing the congregation, said “by most recent accounts, we could say that during our short prayer…between 10 and 20 persons were killed or died of their injuries, or of other causes like cholera, starvation, lack of water, lack of medicine, because of this brutal Russian invasion—just during our prayer. And 60 others were maimed. It’s probably one death every 90 seconds. And four times as many injuries.”

“We have come to accompany in prayer those who have died, those who are being killed, those who have given their lives and the innocent who have had their lives taken from them.”

“For almost four months now,” he continued, “the world’s attention has been riveted to the war against Ukraine.”

Ukrainians know that Americans stand with them, Archbishop Gudziak said. “Ukrainians are beholden to this assistance, to this solidarity.” He specified that Ukrainians are grateful for the aid in defense, the information, the advocacy, the deep investigative journalism and for the journalists who have given their lives to bring the story to the world. “They’re grateful for the prayer. And they’re grateful for the incredible generosity,” he said

He estimated that American Catholics have contributed more than $100 million for humanitarian aid for the victims of the war.

“Dear brothers and sisters, you and I are created to live forever,” Archbishop Gudziak said. “That is the will of our God. That is our spiritual DNA. Today, the people we pray for, those who we mourn, are showing the world that death is not the end, that death is not the worst thing that befalls us, that there are things that are worth facing death for.”

Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, permanent representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, said in remarks that “thousands of Ukrainian men and women have stood up to defend their nation and the future of their children. And let us be frank: by doing so they defend the entire European continent and beyond.”

“The good will win,” Kyslytsya concluded. “Ukraine will win. And the world will win with Ukraine. Eternal memory to all killed by evil during the war of Russia against Ukraine. Let their souls rest in peace. Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.”

The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York provided resplendent music under the direction of Vasyl Hrechynsky.

Kvitoslava Pryhoda, 17, who relocated to the United States from Lviv, in western Ukraine, three years ago, attended the “beautiful” cathedral service with several of her family members, including two sisters, Adriyana, 14 and Olena, 12, who relocated from Ukraine three months ago, and their mother Marta, 52, who moved from Ukraine nine months ago.

The family, who belong to St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church in Hillsboro, N.J., spoke with CNY after the service.

“It was really important for us to attend this, since we are Ukrainian,” Kvitoslava said. “It is important for the Ukrainian community to get together,” she added, “especially if we can pray for our country” and for family members who remain there, including for the Pryhodas their father, 23-year-old brother and a brother-in-law. “It is important for us to support them.”

The cathedral service was helpful, the family said. Their bond with their Ukrainian Catholic community bolsters them. “We go to church every Sunday,” Kvitoslava said. 

Cardinal Dolan, addressing the press after the service, underscored the significance of the gathering for the faithful. He said Ukraine is a land of great faith and of great religious freedom, and includes those who are Jewish, Islamic and Christian.

“They’re people of deep faith and prayer,” he said. “Because faith is always nurtured by suffering, and the Ukrainians have suffered immensely. And they’re doing it now as well. So that we would gather in prayer with and for them means the world to them and to us.”


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