Diocese joins with pope for Act of Consecration toward Ukraine
Bishop Michael W. Fisher, with a large contingent of diocesan priests and deacons, prayed for Ukraine and Russia in a solemn Act of Consecration of Humanity to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the Solemnity of the Annunciation on Friday, March 25 at St. Joseph Cathedral.
The Act of Consecration petitioned by Pope Francis was intended as a gesture of the universal Church to pray at the same time for all those who suffer and implore an end to violence, and to entrust the future of our human family to the Queen of Peace.
Churches throughout the world prayed for peace at approximately 5 p.m., Vatican time or noontime, eastern time in the U.S. The Holy Father also asked everyone to pray throughout the day in union with one another.
In addition to the Mass and Consecration at the Cathedral, parishes within the diocese also were encouraged to celebrate Masses, holy hours or rosaries during this time to pray for Ukraine and the conflict with Russia.
During the early evening, Bishop Fisher led a solemn Stations of the Cross that juxtaposed traditional prayers with intentions for Ukraine that showed scenes from the war-torn country projected on the Cathedral wall behind the altar.
Following the Fifth Station of the Cross, the Very Rev. Marijan Procyk, pastor of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Buffalo, spoke of the conflict.
Father Procyk said that the Russian aggression has led to the “slaughtering of children, women and elderly population” of his country. According to the latest statistics from the United Nations, 2,685 civilian casualties have been documented since the Feb. 24 invasion.
“This is not a simple military operation as claimed by the Russian president,” Father Procyk explained. “Which completely makes no sense, as the Russians claim that the Russian population in Ukraine needs to be liberated.
He cited a document that 395 worldwide scholars have signed denouncing the invasion and strongly rejecting the false claims of Russia of a Ukrainian genocide against Russians and a neo-Nazism movement in Ukraine.
“Russia is misusing the history of World War II to justify their own violence,” he continued.
As Pope Francis has consecrated Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and as the Buffalo Diocese had also done earlier today, we lift our request for peace to God.
All human life needs to be respected, and we hope that the war in Ukraine will end soon, he continued. According to the United Nations, more than 4.1 million refugees have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries and elsewhere.
In the first month of the war, Ukraine has seen thousands of different missile attacks and hundreds of air raids. Father Procyk implored the United States to help close the airspace over Ukraine as has Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“We need fighter jets, we need planes … all we are asking for is to sell us 1 percent of all tanks and planes,” he said. “We just want to save our people; we just want to survive.”
The U.S. Department of State reports that total security assistance to Ukraine has topped $1 billion over the past year.
He compared the 14 Stations of the Cross to cities in Ukraine under siege.
“The stations are the cities of the Ukraine to bear their cross, they are trying to destroy our history, our way of life.”
The pastor explained that God is with the Ukrainian people and that all nations need to remember that God is with us.
He expressed his eternal gratitude for all the support that has come and pledged that the Ukrainian church will ensure that all gifts to Ukraine are received.
“We feel your prayerful support and we must emerge victorious from this situation with someone who accompanies us. The Lord Jesus is here with us,” he said. “Please continue to pray for Ukraine, we really need you.”
Father Procyk concluded his remarks by reciting President Zelensky’s appeal to the U.S. Congress that adapted Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.