DC prayer service honored victims of war in Ukraine

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Listen to the prayer service for the victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As the war in Ukraine continues, mourners gathered at a memorial service in D.C. to pray for those who’ve died in the invasion.

Several Catholic archbishops were present Wednesday night to host the prayer of the Panakhyda, a special service for the deceased, in the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast.

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Several Catholic archbishops held an evening prayer service for Ukraine in the crypt at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Borys Gudziak said he’s visited war-torn Ukraine four times in the last five months.

He spoke about the devastation he’s seen while visiting the country.

“What a sadness it is to see the daily stream of funerals to cemeteries throughout the country,” he said. “Seeing so many funerals and so many grieving families is painful.”

Congregants sang and prayed their way through the evening remembrance service. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington, said the event honored those who’ve died and their families, many of whom never got the chance to pray for them.

“So we do that, we become that family,” Gregory said. “The prayer that we offer this evening links us to those families and reminds us that there is only one family: God’s family.”

“We may speak different languages, come from different cultural backgrounds, live in different regions, but we are one family. And this evening in our prayer, we grieved as a family. But we also took great hope, that no life is ever lost, or ever unimportant.”

Cardinal Wilton Gregory and Archbishop Borys Gudziak held a prayer service for Ukraine in the crypt at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

At the end of the service, the archbishops were asked whether international efforts to assist Ukraine are helping and what else people could do locally to help.

“We won’t do enough until there’s peace in Ukraine. Until the integrity of the country is respected, until their freedom is acknowledged,” Gregory said. “But what we’re doing, and have done, should inspire people to do even more.”

“The people of Ukraine need all the help that we can provide them,” he said. “Not just financially, but … morally, our prayers, and our instance in the political arena that this war be brought to a close and peace be restored to the people from whom peace has been taken.”

WTOP’s Dick Uliano reported from the Basilica of the National Shrine.