NEW YORK – In remarks at the start of a visit to the United States, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, thanked church leaders for their support and expressed his belief that continued solidarity can carry Ukraine to victory over Russia.

“Thank you very much for your tireless prayer and work for the good of Ukraine and our speedy victory in the Russian invasion,” Shevchuk said. “We will definitely win if we are together – together with God, together with each other, no matter where we live in the world, and together with Ukraine.”

Shevchuk, the archbishop of the Archeparchy of Kyiv-Galicia, made the remarks in a March 3 sermon he gave at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington, D.C. The divine liturgy Shevchuk celebrated kicked off his week-long visit to the United States, that will include meetings with church leaders and lawmakers, and stops in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the largest Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See. Shevchuk has led the church since 2011.

Those in attendance at the liturgy included Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Military Services and head of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, USA; Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia and the Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States; Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington; and Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop emeritus of Washington.

Shevchuk thanked all of the American bishops in attendance. In particular, he responded to Broglio’s prior visit to Ukraine, saying the archbishop gave “special testimony of the solidarity of Catholics in America with the suffering people of Ukraine.”

He also mentioned the efforts of Gudziak and the other Ukrainian bishops in the United States.

“They are doing everything so that we can not only survive this difficult period, but also serve the Lord God and the Ukrainian people with dignity, as our great predecessor, the servant of God Lubomyr, taught us,” Shevchuk remarked, acknowledging Gudziak’s visit to Ukraine, and the fund they created.

Beyond the American church, Shevchuk also took time to thank Ukrainians in the United States for their support through the last two years. He said that Ukrainians in the United States and at home unite in prayer for those impacted by a recent Russian drone strike in Odessa, where at least 10 were killed.

“On behalf of those who are the weakest and most vulnerable in Ukraine today and whom our Church was able to serve for two years thanks to your sacrifice and generosity, I express my heartfelt gratitude,” Shevchuk said in a message to Ukrainians in the United States.

Accompanying Shevchuk on his visit to the United States are five bishops of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Their visit comes about a week after the two-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and at a critical juncture in which billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine is currently hung up in Congress as budget negotiations continue.

Shevchuk spoke of the American clergy and Ukrainians in the United States in the latter half of his sermon. The first part, meanwhile, was more of a message to Ukrainians back home. He spoke of the importance of this Great Lent season in the context of facing struggle and finding meaning within it.

Shevchuk spoke of Great Lent as a period of spiritual pilgrimage where people will experience a period of struggle. A “burnt out” feeling that comes with fighting evil, both personally and in the context of the war, and the natural temptation to give up when that feeling hits.

“Many people in Ukraine told me: the wound itself does not hurt so much as the fact that I do not understand its meaning,” Shevchuk explained. “That is why Ukraine today needs so much to find the meaning of personal struggle, its crying, its suffering, and it is the honest and life-giving Cross of the Lord that gives us these meanings that make us an indomitable and invincible, albeit crucified, people.”

“From now on, the Cross heals, not oppresses, wings, not scares – it is no longer an instrument that causes death, but a tree that revives,” Shevchuk said.

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