Far from home, Ukrainian refugees pray at Easter for peace
BUDAPEST – Far from home and unsure when or even if they will ever return, war-displaced Ukrainians gathered in churches across Eastern Europe on Sunday to celebrate the Orthodox Easter holiday in safety and security. pray for an end to fighting with Russia.
Hundreds of believers gathered in St. Michael’s Church in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, to take part in a liturgy delivered by a Ukrainian priest, a sermon focusing on the cohesion of the Ukrainian people and prayer for those left behind.
“As Ukraine celebrates this holiday, for us Ukrainian Christians it is also a celebration that gives us hope that with the resurrection will also come victory in Ukraine, and that good will prevail over evil” , said priest Damien Habory after the hour-long meeting. a service.
Easter, observed by Orthodox worshipers according to the Julian calendar, comes as nearly 5.2 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee the violence unleashed on their country by the Russian invasion.
Most entered countries on Ukraine’s western border: nearly 2.9 million Ukrainians fled to Poland, while another 775,000 fled to Romania and 490,000 passed through Hungary since the beginning of the war two months ago.
In Bucharest, the Romanian capital, dozens of Ukrainian refugees as well as Romanian faithful went to the parish church of Brancusi for the Easter liturgy and to hear a choir sing religious songs in Ukrainian. A priest chanted “Christ is risen!” to the faithful, to whom they replied, “Indeed, he is risen!”
After the service in Budapest, worshipers lined the street outside the church with Easter baskets filled with offerings of hand-dyed eggs, candles and pasca – a traditional sweet Easter bread. Habory greeted worshipers and blessed their Easter baskets with holy water thrown from a liturgical brush used for blessings.
Yaroslava Hortyanyi, president of the Hungarian Ukrainian Cultural Association, said bringing Ukrainians together for the Easter holiday was an opportunity for them to pray for themselves and those they left behind.
“We are all happy for the resurrection of Christ, but we don’t have happiness in our hearts because at the same time Ukrainian children, Ukrainian soldiers and Ukrainians are dying,” Hortyanyi said. “People who believe in God believe this is a way for God to test them…They believe their prayers will help their husbands and parents they have left at home.
Kate Gladka, 31, who arrived in Hungary from Ukraine’s capital Kyiv a month ago, said she struggled to hold back tears during the Easter service, which for her is usually a time of celebration .
“We have a new meaning this year because we are perhaps the liveliest nation in the world now, and we understand what it means to stand up all the time,” she said.
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