The pastor of two Ukrainian Catholic churches in Pittsburgh said he is thankful that Pope Francis and Bishop David Zubik have called for prayers for his homeland as Russia appears poised for an invasion.
Father Ihor Hohosha, pastor of St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church on the North Side and St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in McKees Rocks, grew up in western Ukraine. His mother and his brother and his brother’s family still live there.
“I believe that prayer is one of the most powerful tools that exist,” Father Hohosha said. “Pope Francis’ request for prayers worldwide is huge.”
Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine in recent weeks, as the U.S. has put its military on high alert for potential deployment. Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, seizing control of the Crimean Peninsula.
“We are all sisters and brothers to each other,” Bishop Zubik said in a statement this week. “We bear the sacred image of God…and are called to love and help each other.
“I ask everyone, those of our faith tradition and beyond, to lift their prayers for peace,” Bishop Zubik said. “Pray that God may guide the work of the diplomats and change the hearts of those who seek domination and violence in a land that has already suffered inexpressible horrors over the past century.”
“This is sad,” Father Hohosha said. “Russia does not recognize the sovereignty of Ukraine.
“If you have God in your heart, there is no reason to be afraid of evil forces,” he said. Bishop Zubik concluded his statement: “May Mary, the Mother of God, who whom the Ukrainian people have a deep devotion, hold them in her embrace of love, mercy and protection.”