23 February 2023, The Tablet

Prayers for peace on first anniversary of Ukraine war

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that there have been 18,955 civilian casualties in Ukraine.

Prayers for peace on first anniversary of Ukraine war

Two Sisters of St Joseph of Peace, Margaret Byrne and Margie Fort, protesting in Nottingham against the Russian invasion of Ukraine and calling for peace.
Sisters of St Joseph of Peace

The anniversary of the war in Ukraine on 24 February will be marked by ecumenical prayers and calls for peace.

Friday morning will see one of the first prayer services for peace in Ukraine, at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile in London.

There will also be an ecumenical memorial service at the statue of St Volodymyr the Great in Holland Park, followed by a candle-lit procession to the Russian embassy in Kensington. 

The Ukrainian church in Coventry will hold a prayer service, followed by an evening candle-lit vigil in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral. This will commemorate the civilian casualties of the war, estimated at 18,955 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: 7,199 killed and 11,756 injured.

“We pray and hope for a quick end to this unnecessary war, and for a return to peace and the ability of people to live normal lives, in peace, safety and freedom,” said participants.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and Liverpool Cathedral are to hold a joint afternoon vigil, starting at the plaza outside the first before continuing at Liverpool Cathedral. The vigil will include speakers representing a range of faiths, a choir of Ukrainian singers and Evensong sung by Liverpool Cathedral Choir.

Canon Tony O’Brien, Dean of the Metropolitan Cathedral, said that “as a cathedral and diocese we have close links with the Ukrainian community here on Merseyside and strong links with a Catholic diocese in Ukraine…and we pray for an end to the conflict, for peace and for a just settlement.” 

Bradford Cathedral too will hold a prayer vigil, and Exeter Quakers are among the groups organising outdoor candlelit vigils in town centres.

In Scotland, St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh will host an ecumenical service on Friday evening.

Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London will join Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh, with Bishop Mark Strange of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Dr Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Over the weekend, Bishop Nowakowski will travel to Cardiff for an ecumenical service in St David's Catholic Cathedral and events to commemorate the anniversary of the invasion.

On Saturday, Pax Christi England and Wales and Justice and Peace groups are due to join the national demonstration, “Stop the War in Ukraine – Peace Talks Now!”

Walking through London, from the BBC in Portland Place to Trafalgar Square, they will call for peace talks.

“We oppose Russia’s invasion, but this war of attrition will only escalate and possibly spread if it continues,” said the organisers, warning that “in the absence of negotiation the danger of escalation, possibly nuclear escalation, is very real and this is why we demand peace talks now”.

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