Interfaith leaders call for peace in Ukraine at Wheaton vigil

Community and interfaith leaders gathered Feb. 28 in Wheaton to hold a peace vigil in support of the Ukrainian people.

Organized by the Rev. Jay Moses, pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church, the vigil featured dozens of attendees and speakers from various faiths, including John Jaresko, the son of Ukranian immigrants and president of the St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bloomingdale.

Jaresko expressed hope that unity throughout the world will help Ukraine maintain its independence in the face of last week’s invasion by neighboring Russia.

“We are not a colony of Russia,” Jaresko said. “We are a separate people, and we want freedom and peace.”

In addition to words from local Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh leaders, spokespeople for U.S. Reps. Sean Casten and Bill Foster read statements from the congressmen condemning Russia’s actions and pledging continued support for Ukraine.

Naperville Councilman Ben White spoke at the vigil as a representative of Naperville Neighbors United.

“The people of Ukraine need to know they are not in this alone,” White said. “Granted, we’re not over there fighting and going through what they’re going through, but we’re praying for them and we want them just to persevere and stay focused on doing what they can to save their country.”

Moses thanked the diverse group of community members for coming together in a common cause.

“People of good faith need to stand against political tyranny and political aggression,” he said. “You coming here tonight creates that spirit of the peace process from the grassroots up.”