Lviv residents seek comfort in Sunday services

Lviv, Ukraine (AP) — Some of the inhabitants of Lviv, clasped in prayer and full of horror and sorrow, sought comfort at the Sunday Mass of the Catholic Church in the western city of Ukraine.

The 17th century church was silent during the ceremony. This reflects an ongoing emotional and worrying moment. Russian invasion..

Some people in the church had small pieces of paper with the names of their loved ones. Others just stood silent and their heads bowed during prayer.

Built by Jesuit missionaries, the Church of the Most Holy Peter in Lviv was damaged during World War II and held more than two million books during the Soviet era.

Since reopening in 2011 after the refurbishment, it has served as a military church and has provided prayer and comfort to Ukrainian service personnel.

In the last 11 days of the Russian invasion, the church is more important than ever, even though Lviv itself has never seen the heavy bombardment and destruction of other cities in the country.

Rev. Taras Mykhalchuk explains, “Because the church is a garrison church, the priests preaching here are chaplains.”

“First, for the past eight years, we have been spiritually helping the army, praying with them, and striving to fulfill all our duties as priests,” he said.

Unable to be with the army outdoors due to fierce fighting, the priests are trying to provide comfort to those who are left behind and need more comfort than ever before, Mykhalchuk said.

“We are increasing the amount of prayer, and we are praying,” he said. “We need to work with the army to understand that we are in our land.”

Dozens of candles flickered inside, illuminating the faces of men and women waiting in prayer.

In the corner, there are dozens of commemorative photos of the fallen Ukrainian soldiers who died in the 2014 clash. Men and women in military uniform were seen among the worshipers.

Donated clothing, bedding, and relief supplies are stored in another room, waiting to be distributed where they are needed.

Mykhalchuk is convinced that Ukrainian soldiers are “guided by love and light” to protect their country.

“Love is a very strong emotion, stronger than death,” he said. “God is a fair judge and I think everything will soon be in the right place.”


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