Notre Dame marks one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Peter Breen | Friday, February 24, 2023
To mark one year since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies arranged a commemoration in Nanovic Hall, which was followed by a candlelit prayer service for peace at the Grotto with University President Fr. John Jenkins Thursday evening.
In the Nanovic Hall Forum — adorned with the student research exhibition “Ukrainian Art as Protest and Resilience” — sophomore Marko Gural welcomed attendees on behalf of the Ukrainian Society of Notre Dame.
“I think that one year ago harkens back to a completely unrecognizable reality, on Feb. 23, 2022, the Ukrainian Society hosted a panel of Notre Dame professors that evaluated the state between Russia and Ukraine,” Gural said. “That evening Russia invaded.”
Four exchange students from Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) then gave their stories of war and exile. The last to speak, Andriana Opryshko, who is studying cultural studies at UCU, explained the hatred she has felt during the past 365 days.
“I let myself be angry at every Russian soldier… who put me in danger, every person in my country in this danger…,” Opryshko said. “It was something that I screamed into my pillow about, something that made me want to break and throw things. I remember being jealous of people who could cry and tried not to snap at my friends because of the anger that wasn’t even directed at them.”
Next, those gathered in the forum acquired candles and marched together toward the Grotto.
Director of liturgy for Campus Ministry Kate Barrett received the procession after the lit candles were placed inside the rocky cavern, greeting the crowd on behalf of the President’s Office.
“We’re so glad to gather together in prayer, even though it’s really hard to believe that we are here recognizing the one-year anniversary of this invasion,” Barrett said. “Walking together as you all did to get here reminds us of the many people who have been displaced from their homes due to this war, but it also reminds us that we are each on a journey to God that is made easier when we walk together.”
Subsequently, Jenkins, inviting his colleagues Fr. Yury P. Avvakumov, Fr. Herman Majkrzak and Fr. Andrij Hlabse into prayer, asked God to be with the people of Ukraine.
“Lord God, we pray for the people of Ukraine for all those suffering or afraid that you will be close to them and protect them,” Jenkins said. “We pray for the world leaders for compassion, strength and wisdom to guide their choices.”
Following UCU psychology student Yevdokiia Yevdokimova’s reading from Isaiah 41, Jenkins urged the Notre Dame community to take action through prayer.
“Let us as Notre Dame continue to stand with all peace-loving people in praying for an end to this unjust war,” Jenkins said. “Let us pray for peace and freedom and dignity of all the people of Ukraine and for all peoples around the world. We ask God until that comes to keep safe the innocent men, women and children who are currently in harm’s way.”
Afterward, UCU computer science exchange student Yana Muliarska brought petitions before the congregation.
“We pray O Lord our God to give us the grace to remember to have mercy on our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and Russia who are involved in violent conflict,” Muliarska said. “Remove from their needs all hostility, confusion and hatred lead everyone along the paths of reconciliation and peace.”
Wrapping up the program, Barrett relayed the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s proclamation for a day of fasting, prayer and almsgiving on Feb. 24, 2023 — marking one year from the day of the first full-scale assault of the war.
“We may want to consider spending some time tomorrow [at the Grotto] or wherever we are, participating in this day as we feel called and as we are able,” Barrett said.
Jenkins called on God to intercede in the war with peace in the closing prayer.
“Lord God, look down with mercy on the people of Ukraine,” Jenkins said. “Protect and save them from unjust aggression of those who seek to subdue them… You give the people strength and courage to defend what is good, right and holy… let us pray for peace.”