Lehigh Valley Ukrainians seek solace through prayer, combined church services

Written by on February 24, 2022

Lehigh Valley Ukrainians seek solace through prayer, combined church services

By Emma Illick-Frank
February 24, 2022

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Ukrainians in the Lehigh Valley have been praying for peace in their homeland as the military threat from Russia grew into attacks overnight. 

Oksana Koziak immigrated to the U.S. when she was 2 years old. Like many Ukrainian Americans in the Lehigh Valley, much of her family still lives in Ukraine.

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Koziak leads the Bethlehem chapter of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America. Her family left Ukraine to escape World War II. Now she’s worried history is repeating itself.

“This could go on beyond Ukraine,” Koziak said. “Our families, having lived through other points of history where there has been extreme destruction of human life, where despots have not been stopped early on, we all know what has been the result of that.”

“Everyone’s feeling so anxious and almost hopeless in a way in terms of what we can do to help out at this point,” she added.  

One thing that gives her solace is prayer, Koziak said. In the last few weeks, Ukrainian churches across the Lehigh Valley have begun holding joint services. They rotate between Catholic and Orthodox churches each week. 

The Rev. Oleg Kravchenko, a priest at Assumption of the Virgin Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Northampton, is one of the organizers.

“We pray to God. Honestly, I don’t really know what else we can do. Probably a hundred times per day I check the news, and it’s not, uh, positive,” Kravchenko said. 

Services are held on weekday evenings. 

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