Ukrainian pastor inviting community to pray for peace Thursday night at his Joliet church

Rev. Mykola Bodnarchuk is ‘grateful to God’ for freedoms in the U.S.

Rev. Mykola Bodnarchuk, pastor of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Joliet, will host a prayer service for peace at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night at 1000 Barber Lane in Joliet.

The prayer service is called a moleben and it is a form of intercessory prayer that Is used in the Orthodox and other Eastern rite churches.

But anyone of any religious background is invited to attend and ask God to stop the war, Bodnarchuk said.

“Please come and pray,” he said.

Bodnarchuk said he is “grateful to God” to live in the U.S. where there is peace.

“But in my country, there is a war,” Bodnarchuk said. “People are killed. Many are wounded. I don’t know what to say. It’s hard to describe.”

Loved ones remain in Ukraine

Bodnarchuk said he spoke to some of his relatives on Thursday. He said the attacks occurred in all parts of the Ukraine.

“At 5, even before 5, they started using their weapons all over the entire Ukraine,” Bodnarchuk said. “It was everywhere.”

Bodnarchuk said one relative lives near Poland. Bodnarchuk said missile attacks happened just 7 kilometers from his home. Bodnarchuk himself is from Western Ukraine.

While watching “scary videos,” Bodnarchuk said, he was moved to see the volunteers joining the Ukrainian Army. But he also understands that not all people are brave enough to fight.

“Some people are scared,” Bodnarchuk said. “Some people tried to escape, true. And I’m not blaming them. Some people have families. And I’m grateful that some countries opened their borders ... of course, we cannot be strong in everything. Ukraine is a peaceful country. We don’t have millions of people in the Army.”

Coming to the U.S. and returning to the Ukraine

Bodnarchuk said he left Western Ukraine in 1992 to come to the U.S. with his family. His three children were 4, 7 and 9 at the time, he said.

“I was afraid for my family,” Bodnarchuk said. “So we decided at the time – we had young children – to come to a place where they would be safe.”

The move itself wasn’t difficult because of the priest shortage in the Orthodox church, he said. Adjusting to a new culture was more challenging.

“Everything was different,” Bodnarchuk said. “But I am very grateful to God that I found so very many good people. I am the luckiest man to have such good support. This is a blessing.”

Bodnarchuk said he was planning to visit Ukraine this summer and hopes the trip is still possible. When his father and his wife’s parents were alive, he tried to visit every other year. But now he is older and many of his loved ones have died and he wants to “pray over their graves.”

And he feels grateful for everyone’s efforts.

“I have to say, ‘thank you’ to all the people in the world and to all the governments who are supporting Ukraine,” Bodnarchuk said.

But Bodnarchuk is also concerned for the Russian people and for those who will lose their lives while fighting.

“This is not the way it should be,” Bodnarchuk said. “So I am going to pray for peace. So if interested, please come to our church tonight at 6:30 p.m.”