Cardinal Cupich joined Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak and Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk for an ecumenical memorial prayer service commemorating the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. The service at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, 835 N. Oakley Blvd., included prayers from the Ukrainian Catholic prelates, Cardinal Cupich and representatives of other Christian traditions. The Ukrainian Catholic Church is an Eastern-rite church in full communion with the Holy See; its St. Nicholas Eparchy is based in Chicago. Cardinal Cupich told the congregation that those killed in Ukraine are not unlike those who gathered to pray. “These are people who did not choose being a soldier as career,” Cardinal Cupich said. “They are mothers and fathers, teachers, doctors, nurses, policemen, civil servants, businessmen, priests and sisters who were taking up the call of their vocations as God has wanted and yet were forced into a conflict to defend their fellow citizens and their homeland. “Six million are displaced in their own country and tens of thousands of citizens, noncombatants, have been killed. We pray for all of them. Who are these people? Look around this church tonight. See the children who are here. Who are these people? They are us. … It is clear that the Russian government has made a decision that they cannot win this war, so rather they will inflict terror on people by destroying their infrastructure, their utilities, their buildings, their schools, their hospitals. That is what’s taking place, and that is why we must be steadfast in our support of the Ukrainian people, steadfast in calling for an end to the war now.” Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak, who said he had recently returned from his sixth trip to Ukraine in the past year, reported that the people he spoke to there asked for prayers. “It’s so good to be together in prayer and in solidarity at a time of tragedy and pain and sorrow,” he said. “Being with God in his house, and holding each other by the hand, gives us hope, renews our faith and gives human beings the strength to do the right thing.” Resistance to the Russian invasion of Ukraine gains strength from such solidarity, he said. “There are truths that we are manifesting,” he said. “Just like Peru is not going to be a colony of Spain, Algeria of France, Australia of England, just like Blacks are not going to be slaves of whites, so too Ukraine will not be a colonial part of a Russian empire.” The war is a manifestation of the first sin of human beings, who ignored the gift that their lives were to try to take what God told them they must not have, Archbishop Gudziak said. “The problems began when God the giver said, ‘Don’t be a grabber. There is something here that will kill you. Don’t grab it. Don’t take it,’” he said. “All the evil, all the weakness, the feebleness, the sinfulness in our human nature, is connected with this gesture, with the grab — ‘I, for me, I take yours’ — and there’s no worse grab than an imperialist war. War is a summation of all sin. All the commandments are trampled in war.” Rev. Myron McCoy, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, prayed that the “Russian leader” would have a change of heart and end the “reprehensible war.” “From the beginning, the Christian conscience has struggled with the harsh realities of violence and war, for these evils clearly frustrate God’s loving purposes for humankind.” McCoy said. “We yearn for the day when there will be no more war and people will live together in peace and justice.” Rev. Andreas Garabedian of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church said his people know what it is to suffer atrocities. “But it is not suffering and atrocity that unites people and gives strength,” Garabedian said. “It is prayer. Please allow me to offer a prayer of peace and rest for all those who have suffered and died. Regardless of the language and tradition we pray in, prayer gives us strength.” Prayer also draws people closer to God, said Rev. Jaime Briceño, pastor of St. Michaels and All Angels Episcopal Church in Berwyn. “Despite the darkness of war and the anguish of loss, God remains with you,” Briceño said. “Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God, not even the power and the violence of war. Those who are hurting will find comfort, those who weep will be consoled, those who despair will find hope and those who thirst for justice will find fulfillment. God with you always, and his love endures forever.” Earlier in the day, students at St. Nicholas Cathedral School held their own prayer service to commemorate the beginning of the war. The day after explosions signaled the beginning of the invasion, the school opened its doors to the first refugee family from Ukraine. Since then, St. Nicholas Cathedral School has welcomed more than 95 children from Ukraine.