Chicago gathers to pray on one year anniversary of Russia invading Ukraine

Several prayer vigils were held in Chicago on Friday to show support for Ukraine exactly one year after Russia invaded the country.

On the steps of Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ukrainian Village, hundreds stood in solidarity for Ukraine, with hundreds more spilling into nearby streets.

"Remember to be grateful for what you have, know that it can be taken away just like that in an instant," said Oleh Holovatiuk, a community member.

The Friday night rally was held in honor of those who have been killed in the war, and to encourage continued strength.

"I don't want to go back to St. Nicholas next year at a second anniversary, I don't want to come back here and talk about a second anniversary, I want to come back here and talk about, what does victory mean," said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of the 5th District of Illinois.

The event was attended by community members, religious leaders, and elected officials.

"No matter how tough we think we have it here, we know nothing of the daily sacrifices of the people there who are hungry, who are cold, who are burying the dead, who are mourning the losses every single day," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Earlier in the day, schoolchildren and teachers at St. Nicholas Cathedral School spent their afternoon praying for peace in Ukraine, and around the world.

Since the invasion one year ago, 95 student refugees from Ukraine have been welcomed into St. Nicholas with open arms.

After fleeing with their families, the school, which is located in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood, has become their safe haven.

Together, schoolchildren, teachers, elected officials and religious leaders assembled in the gymnasium with candles and flowers.

They sang, shared their stories, and honored the lives lost amid Russia’s invasion of their home country.

"You’ve opened your hearts, your school, your home, to accompany those – giving them food, shelter, language classes, love, fun and perhaps most, a shoulder to cry on. In doing so, you’ve shown us all the way," said Josh Hale, President and CEO of Big Shoulders Fund.

Following Friday night’s rally, a prayer service was held at St. Nicholas Cathedral.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, another rally to raise awareness about the ongoing war will begin at 2 p.m. outside the Water Tower located at 806 North Michigan Avenue.