St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh hosted an ecumenical prayer service for peace in Ukraine last night (Friday 24 February), writes Corrie Young.
Archbishop Leo Cushley was joined by Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Holy Family of London, the Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, and Bishop John Armes of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Archbishop Cushley said: “This is not political. This is about coming to the house of God and bowing our heads before Almighty God and asking him to spare his people, to grant us a peace that we are unable it seems to give ourselves, to do that with humility.
“I was delighted and honoured that so many distinguished people were able to join us like the Moderator, the Lord Provost, the Bishop of Edinburgh, and above all the Catholic Ukrainian Eparch.”
Bishop Nowakowski said: “This evening was a time of great emotion for us to be able to pray together with Archbishop Leo and all of the other faith and civic leaders.
I continue to thank God for the wonderful people of Scotland and for the openness that especially the Catholics have shown to these people here in in Scotland who have fled.
"I think when we prayed the Lord’s Prayer, we prayed as one big family. The Scottish people have shown solidarity, generosity, and kindness.
“It's been a horrific year of atrocities but the Ukrainian people are very resilient. They are not just fighting for their own existence, they're fighting for Europe, for democracy, and for freedom.
“For me personally, I cannot be more grateful than I am. I continue to thank God for the wonderful people of Scotland and for the openness that especially the Catholics have shown to these people here in in Scotland who have fled.”
The Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields said: “We’re here because we felt we had to be here to stand with the people of Ukraine and pray for the people of Ukraine to let them know that we are constantly thinking about them in our prayers.
"We are praying for this awful experience to end.
“The atmosphere this evening was humbling. A real, deep sense of God’s peace and presence there tonight. It was beautiful.”
Scottish Chistian leaders will join Rt Rev Kenneth Nowakowski, Eparchial Bishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic community in Great Britain, to pray for peace.
This Ecumenical Prayer Service for Peace takes place at St Mary's Cahtedral Broughton Street (next to John Lewis) at 7pm on Friday 24 February.
"Our principal intention is to encourage earnest prayer for peace in Europe, and in particular to assure our suffering Ukrainian brothers and sisters of our human and spiritual solidarity with them." - Archbishop Cushley.
Rosyth parish gives warm welcome to Ukrainian family
A Ukrainian family fleeing war have received a warm welcome at their new home in Rosyth.
The extended family of seven – a grandmother, her two daughters and four children – arrived in Scotland today (6 May) and are living at the church house of St John & St Columba (parish of The Most Holy Trinity), made available by the Archdiocese.
Deacon Pat Carrigan described the arrival of the family as “an amazing community event”.
He said: “Parishioners and the folk of Rosyth took the project to their hearts and turned a house into a home within a matter of days.
"Gifts poured in, a team prepared the house with love and enthusiasm, while trades people gave freely of their time and skills.”
He added: “It took a lot of effort and the assistance from the office of local MP and MSP Douglas Chapman and Annabelle Ewing, who chased the Home Office for visas.
"Thanks to all volunteers for their selfless dedication to this project, especially Karen Parker, Mel Porter and our translator Agnieszka Denicka - their support has been tremendous."
Parishioner and volunteer Karen Parker said: “We’re so delighted they’ve arrived – it’s quite emotional to see them at last.
"They are safe, in a lovely home and are so appreciative of all the gifts that have been donated. I think they will be very happy here.”
Sr Mary Pierre, Director of Properties for the Archdiocese, said: “We learned about this family with four small children through Fr Vasyl Kren, parish priest at St Andrew’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Edinburgh, who asked if there were any vacant presbyteries that might be available.
“The house was just ending refurbishment for a residential let, however, the parish was very excited to host a refugee family instead. After the Archdiocesan Trustees gave their approval, Deacon Pat coordinated the parish and community to make a new home for this family.”
Love & Support
Archbishop Leo Cushley said: “This is a small but important gesture and such practical help demonstrates our love and support for our Ukrainian brothers and sisters.
"Deacon Pat, parishioners and the wider community have all worked hard to make this happen. I call on all Christians to continue praying for peace in Ukraine.”
The news follows that of another Ukrainian family recently being given a home by the Carmelite nuns in the guest house at their monastery in Dysart.
Want to help those in Ukraine? Donate to SCIAF's emergency appeal at sciaf.org.uk
Message to Moscow: seek peace in Ukraine
In an impassioned plea to the head of the Orthodox Church in Russia, Patriarch Kirill, Scotland's Catholic Bishops have urged him to "intervene with the President of Russia to bring this tragedy to an end".
Highlighting the death of innocent people, the letter points out that "the beauty and power of the Orthodox faith is a message of peace".
The letter is signed by the President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, Bishop Hugh Gilbert on behalf of all the bishops of Scotland.
His Holiness Patriarch kirill of Moscow and all Russia
The conflict in Ukraine
As the situation in Ukraine continues to worsen and innocent people are being killed and injured, the Catholic Bishops of Scotland implore your Holiness to intervene with the President of Russia to bring this tragedy to an end. The beauty and power of the Orthodox faith is a message of peace and inclusion for our world that seeks to break down barriers "that they may all be one"
This Holy season of Lent is a call for a conversion of hearts not for destruction and death. We are all called to die to sin, to die to our selfishness, our national interests, and to seek a new way of reconciliation and peace. May our Lord Jesus Christ who transformed an instrument of torture and death to become the tree of eternal life, shine on us this Easter, especially the people of Ukraine and Russia. May we imitate the beloved disciple who did not flee through fear but stood united with our Lord and His blessed Mother at the foot of the cross and made a home for her in his house.
We pray for Your Holiness, for the Orthodox Churches, the peoples of Ukraine and Russia. May our Lady, Queen of Peace, intercede for all of us.
With sentiments of respect and esteem.
Yours Sincerely in Christ
Bishop Hugh Gilbert
Bishop of Aberdeen President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland
Read Archbishop Leo's pastoral letter on Ukraine
Archbishop Cushley has written a pastoral letter to Catholics in our Archdiocese updating them on the Ukraine crisis and reminding us to support SCIAF's annual WEE BOX campaign.
Edinburgh, 27 March 2022
My dear friends,
I know that all of you will have been as shocked and saddened as I was by the invasion of Ukraine last month. I know also that you will be keeping in your prayers not only all those who have already lost their lives, but also those who have lost loved ones and those who have been driven from their homes.
One of the consequences of this unjustified invasion is that millions of Ukrainians are now on the move across Europe and we, therefore, face an unprecedented refugee crisis. As Ukrainian families begin to arrive in Scotland, I want you to know that I have urged the Scottish Government to use its resources to house and financially support these refugees, and that the Archdiocese is working with local government agencies to help in any way that we can.
I know you will warmly welcome and support the Ukrainian families that come to live in our communities.But there are also several other ways in which you can help.
Fr Vasyl Kren, the priest attached to our Ukrainian parish in Edinburgh, says that he is extremely grateful for everyone’s generosity but that, for now, there is no more space there to take gifts of clothes, bedding and food. The most effective way, then, to help our Ukrainian friends right now is to contribute to SCIAF’s appeal for the Ukraine.
This is because SCIAF forms part of Caritas Internationalis, the great international charity of the Catholic Church. Caritas is present in the Ukraine, in Poland, and in other countries affected, and by responding to SCIAF’s Ukraine appeal, you can help our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in all the countries where they find themselves stranded in great numbers, chiefly in Poland and the other Western European countries bordering on the Ukraine.
SCIAF’s main work, helping the poor of Africa, the Americas and Asia, will continue through the Lenten Wee Box campaign and through the collection at the end of today's mass. But SCIAF is also collecting specifically on behalf of the Ukraine.
I urge you, therefore, to support the people of the Ukraine, without forgetting our friends who still rely upon us elsewhere.
May the Lord bless you abundantly for your goodness and generosity.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh
Archbishop Leo prays for peace in Ukraine
Pope Francis asked bishops and priests across the world to join him in a prayer for peace and in the consecration and entrustment of Russia and of Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at 4pm this Friday.
Archbishop Leo prayed for peace live on our YouTube channel here.
STATEMENT: Bishops’ Conference of Scotland on Ukraine
At their meeting this week, Scotland’s Catholic bishops welcomed Right Rev Kenneth Nowakowski Bishop for Ukrainian, Belarusian and Slovak Eastern Catholics in Great Britain and expressed their solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
In a statement, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said:
“Together with Pope Francis, we fervently pray for an end to the conflict in Ukraine and for all those who have become victims of such senseless violence. We continue to be shocked at the horrific loss of life and destruction and appalled at the humanitarian catastrophe which is unfolding before us.
"While we welcome the steps taken by the UK Government to resettle Ukrainian refugees in the UK, we hope that open sanctuary will speedily be offered to them, giving them the right to live, work and remain here as is happening in other countries."
"We hope too that the Scottish Government will assist Ukrainians who come to Scotland with visa sponsorship, accommodation and other coordinated practical help. We urge our fellow citizens to give an open and generous welcome to those who seek refuge from the bloodshed and chaos in their nation, as we recall the words of St. Matthew “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35).
"We commend those who wish to offer homes or work to refugees and encourage everyone who can manage to give financial help while asking people to pray for those who are suffering so grievously. The Catholic Church has begun the process of identifying properties which may be suitable for Ukrainian refugees.
We encourage Scotland’s Catholics and all people of good will to open their arms to the refugees from Ukraine.”
Archbishop Cushley and Fr Vasyl Kren prayed for peace tonight (Wednesday) at Our Lady of Pochayev and St Andrew's in Edinburgh.
Around 100 people attended the Ukrainian Catholic Church in a show of spiritual support, some of them making donations of clothes, medicine and cash at the Dalmeny Street building.
Archbishop Cushley said: "It is surely a terrible burden, and we want to share it with you, first by being here.
"But the last thing we should do when we come to church is to be here as a protest, or a demonstration, or as virtue signalling.
"What we do best when we come into God’s house is, humbly and silently, to bow our heads before almighty God; to remember those we love and care for; and to hold them in prayer before Him.
"Because when we come to God’s house, we look for a word of comfort, of love, of peace. Outside, we work and struggle for peace; in here, we implore God for His peace."
He added: "My dear friends, our God is a God who saves. In this dark moment for us all, let us comfort each other and our Ukrainian friends with the assurances of our faith, and let us implore the Lord with all our hearts for a return to peace and charity, in Ukraine and among all the world’s peoples."
The prayer service follows Pope Francis' call to make Ash Wednesday a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine and other conflicts across the world.
Fr Kren, parish priest at Our Lady of Pochayiv & St Andrew's, spoke recently following the outbreak of war in his home country.
Pray for Ukraine
Pope Francis has asked us to make it a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine and other places of conflict (such as Yemen, Syria and Ethiopia).