Calgary bells ring out for peace in Ukraine

By  Mario Toneguzi, Catholic Register Special
  • March 21, 2022

Church bells rang out across Calgary at noon March 18 to show solidarity and support for the people of Ukraine who have been suffering through the brutal Russian military invasion of their country.

It was part of A Day of Prayer for Peace in Ukraine where parishes throughout the Diocese of Calgary offered opportunities for the faithful to pray for peace through eucharistic liturgies, prayer services and devotional prayers.

The ringing of the noon bells was prolonged or extended as a call for peace in the war-torn country.

The Day of Prayer was coordinated with all the parishes/churches of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton, the Anglican Diocese of Calgary, the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, Anglican Diocese of Athabasca, the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Paul, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.

Calgary Bishop William McGrattan said each of the Christian denominations were encouraged to take the opportunity to gather as a community.

“The ringing of the bells was a symbolic sign. A call to a greater sense of peace, a greater sense of wanting to make sure that this war is ended,” said McGrattan.

“Our Holy Father is going to be consecrating both Ukraine and also Russia on March 25 to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and he’s asking all of the churches and the bishops throughout the world to join or to make the faithful aware of this Act of Consecration. We as Canadian bishops will be issuing a statement in support of that and encouraging all of the dioceses throughout Canada to mark this as well.

“There’s also a Novena that the Patriarch from the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ukraine has also asked that the world would pray that in leading up to the day of consecration that Pope Francis will be offering.”

McGrattan said there is a sense that there are diplomatic and much-needed initiatives to end this war, but prayer and a spiritual response can also move hearts.

“Hopefully these acts, these prayers, can be a way in which we are united but also they can be effective in bringing about peace,” he added.

Fr. Michael Bombak, of St. Stephen Protomartyr Ukrainian Catholic Church in Calgary, said the parish had a devotional service where the faithful asked Mother Mary to intercede for all the people suffering in Ukraine at this time, for an end to the hostilities, protection of the innocent and to let peace prevail there.

“We rang our bells at noon in solidarity with many other churches in Calgary. It was originally envisioned as a Calgary event but our Bishop David (Motiuk, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton) made it a province-wide event. Many other churches joined our ranks, being in solidarity with this,” said Bombak.

“It’s important because as Christians prayer and fasting are two primary weapons in the real war. The war in Ukraine is a real war, an invasion in fact, but as Christians we are always sort of engaged in a spiritual battle, and there is a great temptation at this time to hate our brothers and sisters in our hearts because of this tragedy. We have to resist that. We have to resist the temptations to become confused, to become disoriented because of the fear that this situation is causing and we have to fight the temptation to forget who our real enemy is, which is the evil one and his forces here in our own hearts.”

Bombak said prayers are essential. They’re efficacious for the people in Ukraine who are suffering, but also for the spiritual warfare people are engaged in during these turbulent times.

Bombak said St. Stephen, and its sister church in Calgary, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, have received overwhelming support from parishioners and others for the people of Ukraine with generous donations of items and money.

As of March 15, the Eparchy of Edmonton had raised more than $840,000 including matching donations, supported by more than 1,100 donors. All donations of up to $500,000 are being matched by an Alberta family.

Both Calgary parishes also received a huge supply of donated goods that have been shipped to Ukraine.

“Ukrainian Catholics have been galvanized but a lot of people who may not have even known sort of where Ukraine was on the map before really are pulling together to offer support,” said Bombak.

“The outpouring of love in this difficult situation has just been incredible.”

St. Stephen has a unique situation in that it opened its church a few years ago to share space with the St. Basil’s Melkite Greek Catholic Church that has many parishioners who are Syrians driven from their homes by violence. They too had a prayer night for Ukraine and have raised money for humanitarian aid.

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