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2-Yr anniversary: Knights launch novena for peace in Ukraine

Burying the dead in Kharkiv, Ukraine

MAXYM MARUSENKO | NurPhoto via AFP

John Burger - published on 02/14/24

"The most important thing is we continue to help the Ukrainian people feel that God is present among them in their suffering," official says.

With Ash Wednesday falling on February 14 this year, the first 10 days of Lent come at a time when some people are anticipating the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Knights of Columbus, who operate in Ukraine, have developed a novena for peace and healing in the war-torn country. 

“As we approach the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Knights of Columbus invite Catholics and people of goodwill to join in prayer for the people of Ukraine, including our brother Knights and their families, by undertaking this novena from February 15-23, ending on the eve of the anniversary,” said Szymon Czyszek, Director of International Growth-Europe for the Knights of Columbus. “Each day of the novena focuses our spiritual attention on those in need of our prayerful solidarity: widows, orphans, the deceased, the wounded, veterans, refugees, prisoners, and young people.”

Czyszek, who is based in Krakow, Poland, said that the novena was mainly written by a Ukrainian young adult. He told Aleteia that the Ukrainian people “need this sign of solidarity, this sign of unity, this sign of fraternity, and we also want to give a voice to those who have suffered in the war.”

Individual prayers speak of those who have survived war’s violence but “carry wounds both visible and invisible.” Veterans might come home from the front, but their hearts “remain in the intensity of war” and face a “new battleground.” 

Inspired by Blessed McGivney

Each day of the novena contains a particular intention that can be tied to a title of Knights of Columbus founder Blessed Michael McGivney, as found in A Litany of Blessed Michael McGivney: Defender of the Widow and Orphan, Friend of the Lonely and Suffering, Comforter of the Sick and Dying, etc. [Photo above shows relatives and friends reacting during a funeral ceremony for a family and their three children who died in a fire following an attack by Russia’s Shahed strike drones in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 12.]

The Knights of Columbus first established councils in Ukraine in 2013, and today there are 2,700 members there. Since the invasion began on February 24, 2022, the fraternal organization has helped more than 1.6 million people. Some 10,000 Knights in Poland and Ukraine have distributed over 7.7 million pounds of food and supplies via Knights of Columbus Charity Convoys, along with 250,000 care packages, 4,000 coats to Ukrainian children, 60,000 rosaries and hundreds of wheelchairs, generators and other essentials.

“The Knights will continue to raise funds and continue to bring awareness to what’s going on in Ukraine,” Czyszek said. “But I think the most important thing is we continue to help the Ukrainian people feel that God is present among them in their suffering. So, with every care package, every piece of clothing that we bring, we want to show them that God has not abandoned them.”

The novena can be found here with videos, and a printable copy can be found here.

Tags:
Knights of ColumbusPrayerRussiaSaintsUkraine
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