September 28, 2022
  • September 28, 2022

Speakers at New Castle vigil urge aid to Ukraine

By on March 15, 2022 0

NEW CASTLE – For Zenia Goodge, watching the daily events in Ukraine with the ongoing Russian invasion is personal and heartbreaking for her.

Read more: Russian onslaught halts, US officials say; Zelensky will address Congress on Wednesday

Goodge, who was a Ukrainian immigrant to the United States in 1994, said she still has family in the country, including her mother.

She said she tried to explain the ongoing conflict to her children, but often wondered “How do you explain the inexplicable?”

“The whole country is on fire,” Goodge said.

Goodge and other Lawrence County faith leaders participated in a “Stand with Ukraine, Pray for Peace” vigil Friday at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Castle.

“The circumstances we are here for cause my heart to ache,” said Reverend Erin Betz Shank, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church.

A fire burns in a building after it was hit by shelling in a residential area of ​​Mariupol, Ukraine.

Goodge’s view of the conflict

Goodge said she calls her family every day in Ukraine not only to see how they are doing, but to confirm if they are still alive and safe.

She said when the invasion started she couldn’t stop crying, sitting in disbelief, feeling hopeless and wanting to do something.

Goodge said this conflict made her realize how fragile life was and said she constantly prays for her family, her land and her nation.

More: Moon Township woman prays for her family in Ukraine as war escalates

She said the people of Ukraine are brave, courageous and resilient, ready to stand together in the face of overwhelming odds. Goodge said this showed in the continued resistance against Russia, when he was told the capital, Kyiv, was to fall within hours.

“Ukraine will fight for its independence to the last soldier,” she said.

Zenia Goodge, a Ukrainian immigrant who still has family in Ukraine, speaks at the vigil held in New Castle.

Goodge said Ukraine became part of the former Soviet Union in 1919.

She said that over the years Ukrainians would fight for their independence, only to achieve it in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Goodge said that during their years under Soviet control, the Russians would oppress the Ukrainian people and close many of their churches.

She said one of the worst atrocities committed by the Soviet Union, likely in response to the independence movement, was the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine called Holodomor, which killed millions of Ukrainians.

Goodge said an average of 17 people died every minute and more than 24,500 died every day during the Holodomor.

Read more: What is the Holodomor? A brief history of the deadly famine in Ukraine that many call a genocide

The United States is one of 16 countries in the world to have declared actions by the Soviet Union and Joseph to be genocide, with a Holodomor genocide memorial placed in Washington, DC, in 2015.

Goodge said the Soviets tried to “replace” people who died during the Holodomor by moving into the east of the country, which explains why there are the self-declared, Russian-backed breakaway states of the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the Luhansk People’s Republic. Republic.

More: Putin sends troops to two Ukrainian regions after declaring independence

She said that watching the news every day, she wonders how the world could let this happen.

Goodge said there was destruction and death every day, with 1,300 people dead in one village alone, a 21-month-old baby dying from lack of water and civilian places like a maternity hospital being shelled.

More: Graphic images warning: Russia attacks maternity hospital in Ukraine, killing three and injuring 17

More: Harris calls for investigation into Ukraine maternity hospital attack, accuses Russia of ‘unimaginable’ atrocities

More: “Horrifying”. Russia’s strike against maternity hospital in Ukraine sparks outrage as civil war toll rises

“Why in God’s name is this happening,” she asked.

Goodge said that with all the news and stories of Ukrainian citizens fighting and helping each other, she said Hollywood has enough material for its films.

Despite the resilience, she said the country urgently needs help from the rest of the world in order to fight for its freedom, its children and its future.

“We are fighting for our independence. We want Ukraine to be the best country,” Goodge said. “Help us please.”

Religious leaders pray for Ukraine

In her post, Shank said that when the invasion started, she thought about what she and her church could do, which led to the church organizing Friday’s event.

She also read messages from Ukrainian church pastors in Youngstown, Ohio, saying they are grateful for the messages of support.

Reverend Dave Young Sr., pastor of the Prevailing Word World Outreach Center in Union Township, said there are three words that prevail in the situation in Ukraine.

These are ‘sympathy’, or understanding the situation in which the Ukrainian people find themselves, ’empathy’, or the Ukrainian people’s sense of grief, and ‘compassion’, which combines sympathy and empathy, while doing something to try to ease the grief. .

“There is power in prayer,” Young said. “I believe that God hears the prayer of the righteous.”

An explosion in an apartment building that came under fire from a Russian army tank in Mariupol, Ukraine.

Chuck Jewel, the pastor of New Creation Free Methodist Church in New Castle, spoke about loving your neighbor because through Christ everyone is our neighbor. Therefore, it is important to help neighbors in Ukraine.

Reverend Joseph McCaffrey of Holy Spirit Parish, New Castle said that in war there is bloodshed, horrors and senseless death.

However, he said he believed those who are truly innocent will never truly die and those like Russian President Vladimir Putin will never truly win, because of God’s love and the notion that he will protect those. who are good in their fight against evil.

More: Elon Musk challenges Vladimir Putin to single combat on Twitter: ‘The stakes are Ukraine’

Sam Bernstine, the former rabbi of the former Hadar Israel Temple in New Castle, said this situation is a human tragedy and a personal tragedy for people like Goodge.

He said that Ukraine, which has around 44 million inhabitants in 24 different regions, already has around 2 million refugees, with 1.5 million going to neighboring Poland and others to Hungary and other countries. .

More: ‘Anything we can’: Polish border town opens its doors to desperate Ukrainians fleeing war

Bernstine said he was working with someone in Ukraine, who was doing graphic design while the house next to her was bombed.

He said he knows people in Ukraine who are constantly on the run, hiding in the subway.

More: Putin’s invading forces besieged Ukrainian citizens to face the grim realities of combat – again

Bernstine said he wanted to give advice from the Hebrew Bible when it comes to world peace: turn away from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.

Reverend Lorrie Ghering-Burick, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in New Castle, closed the service by saying that God, who is the source of our being, loves everyone more than you think and waits for everyone.

Other stakeholders

New Castle Council President MaryAnne Gavrile said her Romanian-born father left his country aged 16 with his younger brother and sister to the United States for a better life and to escape the regime of former dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu.

She said that with people in the United States complaining about issues like potholes and high gas prices, they should be grateful to be safe and pray for Ukrainians.

“We’re not running for our lives,” Gavrile said.

After the service, county resident Mark Fort said he had visited Ukraine more than 20 times and donated more than $16,000 over the years to support families across the country.

More: ‘We stand together’: Ambridge church raises funds for Ukrainian refugees

Goodge’s warning to the world

After the service, Goodge said she felt the power of prayer, saying she felt everything was in God’s hands right now.

“It gives us strength, and it also shows that the world is with us, not against us,” she said.

Goodge said examples of this were high waves preventing Russian ships from deploying troops into a town, and high winds blowing Russian troops, by parachute, from their targets.

She said that for many years the Ukrainian people have been oppressed by Russia, and said that they are thirsty for freedom, because this is their last chance, now or never.

Goodge also warned the rest of the world if they didn’t come together to try and stop Putin.

“If we don’t stop Putin now, he won’t stop in Ukraine,” she said. “Right now he’s threatening the whole world with atomic bombs, and I feel like the whole world is being held hostage right now.”

More: Representatives Matzie and Boyle introduce legislation to help Ukrainian refugees

Ways to donate

For those wishing to donate to the victims and the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, one can go to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church USA website,

Residents can donate through the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia website at

Checks to the Archeparchy can be sent to 810 North Franklin St., Philadelphia, PA 19123, with “War Victims and Humanitarian Crisis in Ukraine Fund” in the subject field.

One can also donate to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, through the National Bank of Ukraine, either online or by international bank transfer.

Information on how to do this can be found at the link:

Nicholas Vercilla is a reporter for the Beaver County Times and Ellwood City Ledger. He can be contacted at [email protected]