26 August 2022, The Tablet

Ukrainians in UK mark six months of war

“I see this terrible evil but also the grace which expresses itself in human faith,” said Fr Taras Komych at a Liverpool prayer service.

Ukrainians in UK mark six months of war

The ecumenical prayer service at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral on 24 August. The service was linked to Drohobych Cathedral in western Ukraine.
Archdiocese of Liverpool

An ecumenical prayer service in Liverpool’s Catholic cathedral on 24 August marked both Ukraine’s independence day and six months since the Russian invasion.

The service was led by Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Neylon and Fr Taras Komych, chaplain to the Ukrainian community in the city, who said it was appropriate to “join together in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, the Prince of Peace, and in Liverpool where I see this outpouring of love”. Liverpudlians, he said, “give the impression they just want to embrace us Ukrainians”.

“I see this terrible evil but also the grace which expresses itself in human faith and all those people around us,” said Fr Komych. “I am grateful to all the people who pray for Ukraine.”

The service included members of the Ukrainian community and music from the Ukrainian choir “Svitoch”, and was linked to a service in Drohobych Cathedral in western Ukraine. The Archdiocese of Liverpool has maintained close links with the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Sambir-Drohobych, whose Auxiliary Bishop Hryhoriy Komar was taught by the Liverpool priest Fr Francis Marsden.

The archdiocese has sent a number of shipments of supplies to the region through its “Liverpool4Ukraine” appeal, launched in March.

Ukrainian communities across the UK marked 24 August with prayers for peace, and the Eparchy of the Holy Family in Exile held a divine liturgy for Ukraine and a Parastas (a Greek-rite memorial service) for the innocent victims of the war in its cathedral in Mayfair.

The eparchy also announced the release of a single from the British choir SANSARA to mark six months of war and to support its work with refugees in the UK. “A Quiet Night – Tyhoyi Nochi” sets the words of President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan to music by the Kyiv-born composer Natalia Tsupryk.

Ms Tsupryk said that her life “was split into before and after” by the invasion. “Everything I do now, both professionally and personally, is about Ukraine.”

Chris Gunness, director of the Myanmar Accountability Project, commissioned the piece to combat the threat to Ukraine’s cultural identity. “The destruction of cultural heritage is a common feature of conflict,” he said. “The culture ministry in Kyiv has confirmed the damage and destruction of over 400 historical buildings, museums, libraries, churches and public monuments. This piece is a beautiful reminder that there must be full accountability for these acts of barbarism.”

Proceeds from the initiative will support the work of the Ukrainian Welcome Centre, based on the premises of the cathedral in Mayfair. The centre’s director, Andriy Marchenko, said that refugees “need to thrive here but also need to cherish their culture and language, keeping an emotional connection with their home country”.

The Ukrainian Catholic eparch, Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, said that the centre’s “credibility, expertise and scalability make us uniquely positioned to meet the tasks of signposting, assisting and just being there for the newly-arrived people.”

SANSARA will premiere “A Quiet Night” at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 25 November.

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