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Archimandrite Eugene Pappas with the Ukrainian community president Ihor Andrusiv, at left, secretary Stepon Struk, and deacon Vasiliy Medzaer. Photo: TNH/ Michalis Kakias
BROOKLYN – A message of peace, immediate ceasefire and a call to world leaders to increase their solidarity was shared with The National Herald by Archimandrite Eugene Pappas, presiding priest of Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church in Brooklyn.
“I pray every day for all the children, for all the parents, for all the people who are being tested so hard. The war must stop immediately and peace must come,” said Fr. Pappas, adding that “as it is known, in our parish we host Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians. Sometimes we work together and sometimes separately, with three different liturgies. There are four priests, me, two Ukrainians, father and son, and one from Belarus, ordained by the late former Bishop Philotheos.”
Fr. Pappas continued: “About a month ago we all started praying together, day and night, for peace in Ukraine. The day before the start of the war we held a vigil in the church full of believers, Greeks, Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Germans. Unfortunately, the war was not averted. It was God’s will, because it is the mystery.”
“What really moves me is that despite the war there are no quarrels and animosities between the Russian and Ukrainian members of our Church, everyone wants to stop the bloodshed and deaths of so many innocent people,” said Fr. Pappas. “We come to church to pray and embrace as brothers in Christ. This phenomenon of coexistence of three ethnicities began 25 years ago with the blessing of Archbishop Demetrios formerly of America. Ukrainians and Russians participate in my Liturgy, as well as serving as altar boys. Also, the number of believers from Georgia has been increasing a lot lately. I wholeheartedly hope for peace to prevail. May God protect the whole world. Our prayers and support are always with those who suffer.”
The Ukrainian priest Fr. Vasyl Shak, spoke to TNH with pain in his soul about the tragic and inhuman, as he said, situation prevailing in his country.
“We are terrified of the Russian invasion,” he said. “Ukraine is vigorously resisting and defending its freedom and its future, with unfortunate consequences. Millions of our compatriots are leaving their homeland and taking to the road as refugees. Countless civilians have been killed so far, and the country’s economy has been devastated.”
“We pray daily for the dead, our defenders and our army,” Fr. Shak noted. “A huge thank you and immense gratitude to the countries that have accepted the refugees, to the people who have been left homeless and living for a while and to the whole world who are constantly working day and night to stop the attacker and return peace to Ukraine.”
He continued: “Our minds and thoughts are constantly with our relatives and friends in Ukraine. Unfortunately many times there is not even a way to communicate with them.
“My father, Fr. Roman, a priest here at Three Hierarchs, is leaving for Ukraine today,” Fr. Shak said. “He can no longer stay here watching his compatriots suffer so much, he wants to be by their side and help them as much as he can.”
“Still others help in different ways,” he added. “Every Sunday about 100 Ukrainians come to church and collect money, clothes, food, medicine. All Ukrainians in New York offer what they can.”
“A big thank you to our spiritual father, Fr. Eugene Pappas, and to all the Greeks of the parish of the Three Hierarchs for their support and love,” Fr. Shak concluded.
NEW YORK - The Archiepiscopal Encyclical on AHEPA Sunday follows:
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Members of Leadership 100, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America:
My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Christ,
Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!
Together with all the spiritual children of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, I extend our heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association on the occasion of our Church’s annual observance of AHEPA Sunday.
PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.
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