HELENA — People filled the Cathedral of St. Helena on Friday for a prayer of peace and an end to the war in Ukraine.
Pope Francis called upon all bishops, priests and ordinary faithful throughout the world to, at the same time, consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The act is intended to be a gesture of the entire Roman Catholic Church to implore an end to the violence.
“We were praying in earnest for peace in Ukraine during these times and for the Russian people as well, that there would be a change in heart of those that are waging this war,” said Bishop Austin Vetter of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena.
Vetter, who performed the Friday service, estimated there were more than 800 people in attendance at the Cathedral of St. Helena for the event and more watching their live stream of the service.
“I was very touched,” Vetter said. “I knew that this had been weighing on my heart, and on so many people’s hearts. It just shows today in a real way with a jam-packed cathedral just how much it is on our hearts and minds. That the Ukraine is not far away for us. It’s very dear to us. These are our brothers and sisters. We see those news stories and it touches and pulls on all of our hearts.”
Friday’s prayer is the latest of Pope Francis’ efforts to denounce the war and violence in Ukraine.
In Catholicism, Friday marked the Feast of the Annunciation which commemorates when Mary found out front the angel Gabriel she would be the mother of Jesus.