Suffering of Ukrainians recalled at cathedral Holy Thursday Mass

BOSTON -- Members of the local Ukrainian Catholic community participated in the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Holy Thursday, April 14, as Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley invited the faithful to remember the people of Ukraine in their prayers.

Concelebrating the Mass with the cardinal was Father Yaroslav Nalysnyk, the pastor of Christ the King Parish in Jamaica Plain. Two of his parishioners participated in the foot-washing ceremony: Ihor Kowal, Christ the King Parish's choir director; and Myron Kravchuk, the leader of Ukraine Forward, a nonprofit that collects medical supplies for Ukrainian hospitals.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, less than a week before Lent began. Pope Francis called the faithful to pray and fast for peace in Ukraine on Ash Wednesday, which fell on March 2. But the war continued as Lent went on, with millions of Ukrainians fleeing their homeland and tens of thousands losing their lives.

Speaking to The Pilot on April 20, Father Nalysnyk expressed his gratitude for Cardinal O'Malley's ongoing moral and pastoral support for the Ukrainian community, as well as the archdiocese's tangible support for Ukraine, which was demonstrated through the organization of a special collection for relief last month.

Father Nalysnyk said that he and his parishioners were "so honored to be present at the cathedral during the liturgy."

"It was so humbling and an uplifting experience," he said.

In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley again addressed the needs of the Ukrainian people and encouraged prayers for them.

He reminded the faithful of the pope's consecration of Ukraine, Russia, and the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25. The cardinal also said that Pope Francis had called for a ceasefire and truce the previous Sunday.

"The violence continues unabated, and our brothers and sisters in Ukraine are suffering the horrific attack of an unjust aggression. And we know that millions have fled their homes and their families are torn apart. So on this sacred night, when Jesus was betrayed and arrested, we want to be very present to our brothers and sisters in the Ukrainian war," Cardinal O'Malley said.

He explained that Kowal and Kravchuk would participate in the foot-washing ceremony "representing all of our brothers and sisters of Ukraine who are suffering in the whole world."

Father Nalysnyk said that he "experienced Heaven on Earth at that moment" in the liturgy, as he imagined Jesus at the Last Supper, "establishing the holy sacrament of the Eucharist and washing the feet of his disciples, showing us how to serve one another in a spirit of love and humility."

He said he found meaning in a comparison between Ukraine's present suffering and the suffering of Jesus during Holy Week.

"Jesus suffered, and something good came out from this suffering, the salvation of the world. And I could see that Ukraine right now is suffering, but something good will come out," Father Nalysnyk said.