PARMA, Ohio — It's been one year since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began and war began ravaging the country. With Parma home to the largest Ukrainian population in the state, the community has spent the year supporting the country, which many still call home or have loved ones who do, through action, fundraisers, and most consistently—prayer.
On Saturday at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Parma, a prayer vigil was held to remember the thousands of lives lost over the year of war and terror.
"365 days of war. 365 days of terror. 365 days of resistance. And 365 days of prayer," Rev. Michael Hontaruk during the vigil. "On this one year of war we are all overwhelmed with what with we have seen and what we continue taking place all over Ukraine and the suffering of her people."
Throughout the service, prayers were sent for those who have died in the war, those who are overseas to this day, those who have fled the country for refuge and for all who have supported Ukraine since the day the invasion began.
"It's a sovereign celebration. And all the churches, including the Orthodox and Catholics, we are trying to gather community to remember those who were lost and also pray for those who are today defending the freedom and independence of Ukraine," said Saint Josaphat Eparchy Bishop Bohdan Danylo.
Throughout the church, prayers and song echoed through the hall. While the message held a message of tragedy, it also held one of persevering.
"Ukraine is standing. Ukraine is praying. We ask them in prayer, we're asking to end this war. Nobody wishes to fight, especially Ukrainians," Danylo said.
After the prayer vigil, those in attendance left the church to meet in the community space in the next building, hearing stories from those who have experienced the war in Ukraine. A silence around the room as those with loved ones or history in Ukraine listened to the realities of the war, making many in the room emotional.
While the day was solemn, a sense of hope buzzed around the room as well.
Because at the end of the day, those sending their prayers were doing so with one major hope in mind.
"Let's hope that it will happen tomorrow that we are celebrating the only first and the last anniversary of this war that we don't have to once again remember those people who are dying," Danylo said.
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