Hundreds of parishioners in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania gathered at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church for a rally in solidarity with Ukraine on Sunday morning.
Statewide government officials, including Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, spoke in support of the Ukrainian people, who have been under attack by Russian forces for nearly a week.
Many in attendance said Russian President Vladimir Putin should be charged with war crimes.
“It is a moment for all of us to stand up for democracy against this brutal dictator who I believe is committing war crimes, and to make sure that everyone expresses their love and support and appreciation for the bravery of the Ukrainian people,” Shapiro told WHYY News.
According to Al Día, Pennsylvania has the highest population of Ukrainian Americans by percentage. And Bridgeport has a sizable Eastern European community, borough leaders said.
Rev. Ronald Popivchak, pastor at Saints Peter and Paul Church called Sunday’s rally a “beautiful, multiethnic, and multi-denomination” showing of strength.
“I’ve been a priest for 55 years, all over the state of Pennsylvania and I’ve never seen such an outpouring of hope and love, and solidarity,” Popivchak said.
Popivchak added that many of his parishioners have relatives fighting for their lives in Ukraine.
And for many in attendance, faith has been a guide through the uncertainty that has come along with this war.
“We hope in God…and he can change men’s hearts. He can turn around armies,” Popivchak said.
Local officials also attended the rally. They said the Ukrainian American community is integral to the borough’s success.
“It might be thousands of miles away, geographically, but so many people here actually have a connection there. People’s hearts are breaking,” said Bridgeport Council Vice President Tony Heyl. “Anytime there’s a disaster and tragedy, people want to help. And we are doing everything we can to be part of that.”