MILWAUKEE — For Ukrainians here in southeast Wisconsin, some say the distance between them and their families back home feels endless.
As the hymns and prayers filled the sanctuary of St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, more than a dozen Ukrainians young and old prayed for their relatives back home, with the worry and fear understandable in any language.
In a Divine Liturgy dedicated to the country, the priest gave an impassioned sermon, calling out the Russian president by name, and parishioners tell us he highlighted the pain and frustration they feel about the invasion.
Anya Nakonechna, who was born in the western city of Lviv before moving to Wisconsin as an infant, still has strong ties to the country.
She is a fourth-year opera student who says she can’t return because classes have been postponed due to the unrest.
With her extended family still there, Anya says the last few days have been difficult.
“We just did not think this was going to happen at all. I mean, this sort of thing of invasion is just like an old century thing, where you learn it in history books, and it should be in history. I just, we were so agitated yesterday. We didn't sleep at night. We kept on calling everybody; my professors, my grandparents, my teachers, everyone that we know just keep updated. Thankfully, everybody's in western Ukraine and it’s okay,” said Nakonechna.
While there is so much still unknown, Anya says the Ukrainian people are strong and will never stop fighting for their freedom.
“The Ukrainians of the world want to go and help Ukraine, but it's a very different movement. It's so beautiful. And, you know, you hear these leaders and I guess they're doing the best that they can at the moment, but we understand that they have nothing to do with it. They don't understand our culture, but that's okay. We will get there. One day, it will take a long journey, but hopefully in my lifetime, it will happen,” said Nakonechna.
In another show of support, St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church is hosting a Stand with Ukraine rally Friday morning at 7 a.m. on Maple Street in Milwaukee and invite anyone to attend.