By Eileen Jevis | Staff writer

On Sunday, Feb. 27, close to 200 people gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse to participate in a holy hour for peace. Parishioners throughout the Catholic diocese joined thousands of other people of all faiths and religions across Central New York to pray for Ukraine and a peaceful end to the war.

In his homily, Bishop Douglas J. Lucia asked that we pray for a conversion of heart and for an end to what one can only describe as the greatest threat to world peace since the end of the Cold War era.

  Bishop Lucia reflected on his time growing up in the ’60s and ’70s and being so afraid of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear warfare. “I can remember living in the shadows of Plattsburgh Air Force Base. I knew it wasn’t the safest place to be. I knew the base was a potential … target.” But Bishop Lucia said that that is not what he worries about today. “Today, more than any nuclear threat that might be out there, I’m more concerned that we open ourselves to God. For me it’s the greatest fear that we do not open our hearts to God. Because it is God who we know died and rose from the dead. We know it is He who can triumph over everything.”

Mary Ellen Scott, a parishioner at St. Michael’s/St. Peters, attended the prayer service to show support for Ukraine and its people. “I wanted to offer prayers for peace with others in our community,” she said. While Scott doesn’t personally know anyone in Ukraine, she knows the power of prayer can bring hope and comfort.

Sister Alma Pukel was one of several Sisters of St. Francis and Sisters of St. Joseph who attended the service. She echoed Scott’s message of the power of prayer. Sister Alma said she felt united with all other faiths who are praying for peace. “The prayer service was moving and the Bishop’s referral to sunflower seeds and its meaning was powerful.” The Bishop mentioned the significance of sunflowers as Ukraine’s national flower. They are a symbol of hope between Ukraine and Russia. “The seeds of faith will always be planted and blossom,” said Sister Alma. She and the Sisters of St. Francis will continue to pray the rosary for peace.

The Bishop asked the congregation to open their hearts to God. “As we continue now, let us pray that we will open our hearts to God.” As the prayer service ended, the congregation joined the Bishop in singing:

Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me

Let There Be Peace on Earth

The peace that was meant to be

With God as our Father

Brothers all are we

Let me walk with my brother

In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me

Let this be the moment now.

~ Jill Jackson/Sy Miller

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