The spiritual leader of Ukrainian Catholics in South Jersey said that now for his parishioners it is really worrying, as Russia continues to invade Ukraine.
Boris Gudziak, archbishop-metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, “hopes for God’s intervention,” he said in an interview with Hanneth of New Jersey.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the attack on Thursday morning. claiming the purpose of the attack had to protect Russian-speakers in Ukraine.
“(Thursday) was a very sad day for Ukrainian democracy, which was considered an attack by a psychopath who wants to create an empire,” Gudziak said of Putin. “He has power over 11 Russian time zones, but that should not be enough.”
Hudziak has been the archbishop-metropolitan since 2019. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia serves 12,000 parishioners in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Washington.
It has the churches of South Jersey in Cherry Hill and Millville.
Messages of support for Ukraine appeared on the Facebook page of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. Michael in Cherry Hill.
“We believe that in this historic moment the Lord is with us!” – said in a statement. “He who holds in his hands the fate of the whole world and of each person in particular is always on the side of the victims of unjust aggression, suffering and captivity.”
Hudziak said that about 60 percent of his parishioners are either Ukrainian immigrants or children of immigrants of the last 25-30 years.
“Most Americans have never had to deal with such violence and violent deaths in their lives,” Gudziak said. “They see that people are traumatized by this, but it’s someone else’s tragedy, it’s close. It’s been the background history of Ukraine for the last eight years.”
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Concerns among Ukrainians have risen since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, the archbishop added.
And why is Russia attacking now?
“The real answer is that Ukraine is a democracy with freedom of the press, religion, and living civil discourse,” Hudziak said. “(Putin) is very afraid that culture right on his doorstep could spill over, affect his authoritarian state. Dictators are afraid of freedom because they want control. ”
Hudziak spent the first two weeks of February in Ukraine, where, in his words, the mood of the people “was a combination of certain types of stoicism.”
“They are used to difficulties,” Hudziak said of the Ukrainians.
“There was no panic when I was there, no one ran for toilet paper or food, no one withdrew money from bank accounts,” Hudziak continued. “Life is hard. People understand this and keep calm, a firm upper lip. ”
But Russia’s attack on Thursday changed that dynamic.
“Of course, yes,” Hudziak said, adding that “people are being killed.”
“The defense was courageous,” Hudziak said. “Russian planes shot down, invaders taken prisoner. I feel sorry for Russian mothers and the widows and orphans created. There was no reason for war.”
Returning home to the Philadelphia region, Gudziak said parishioners and members of the community had mobilized before Thursday’s invasion.
Protests in Washington and prayer marathons in churches have already continued. Contributions and charitable donations for the people of Ukraine continue. And, according to Gudziak, parishioners wrote to congressmen and senators, demanding more decisive sanctions and provisions against Russia, “to stop this war.”
“It’s a pretty simple attempt, it’s the fabric of our lives,” he said. “These efforts are helping people deal with the anxiety caused. Our parishioners are very generous. A lot of piers have been sold to build churches and fund various charities.”
Meanwhile, Hudziak prays that support will come to Ukraine.
He says the country needs help against Russia.
“Have you ever been to the subway when a bully attacked a little old lady?” Hudziak asked. “In order for the defenders of the little old woman to get rid of the bully, they need tools for that. They are giving their lives, but they need international support. ”
Hudyak, who spoke on the phone from Paris, planned to return to Philadelphia to attend Sunday’s service at the cathedral on North Franklin Street.
“We hope to be together,” he said, taking a break to reflect on the baptism he performed for the boy earlier in the day.
“It was a beautiful symbolic moment in the midst of all that was happening,” Hudziak said.
Anthony Coppola, a native of South Jersey, has been involved in a variety of rhythms in The Daily Journal, Courier-Post and Burlington County Times, including awards in sports and business coverage. Coppola, who joined the staff in 2008, now focuses on regional education reports. Please consider supporting local journalism with a digital subscription.