There were a lot of tears, prayers and hugs at a local community service for Ukraine on Sunday afternoon.
Many were sharing their stories as the group came together at a Ukrainian Cathedral in Maryland.
“Truthfully, I feel like I should be there,” said Ivanna Ivaniv.
She arrived in Maryland on Saturday from Lviv. She came to the U.S. on a visa to stay with her sister. She is divorced and lives in Ukraine by herself with her three children.
“I felt like I wouldn’t be able to protect them in a critical situation,” Ivaniv said.
Her parents and other family members are still in Ukraine.
“I really do want to be there,” she said. “It’s a very strong society right now because the Ukrainians are united with a very patriotic feeling. But I felt like I needed to protect my kids.”
She was part of a packed community prayer and candle lighting service at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Silver Spring.
People were stopping their cars and getting out to take pictures of the chapel and a large banner out front that said “pray for Ukraine.”
The service included a sermon, prayers and traditional Ukrainian songs. Crying could be heard during songs as many people embraced each other and supported each throughout the service.
“I hope that Ukrainians can hold their ground and be strong. It’s going to be very tough,” said Katarina Gramatova. She is from Slovakia and is a member of the church.
Jarol Boam from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, grew up with a friend from Ukraine who goes to the church. When she heard about the vigil on Sunday, she felt like she had to be there.
“I’ve been supportive of Ukraine and the number of immigrants that have come over the years,” Boam said. “I really hope that we can achieve peace and work together.”
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