Event to Support Ukraine Held Sunday Afternoon
Above, Father Borislav Kroner, pastor of Saint Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, delivered impassioned remarks about Ukraine Sunday Afteroon.
About 75 people came out to join the 20 or so members of the Saint Mary’s choir and representatives of the area faith communities, sharing prayers for peace for Ukraine. The master of ceremonies was State Representative Jeff Roy.
Speakers included Methodist Minister Rev. Jacob Juncker, Rabbi Thomas Alpert of Temple Etz Chaim, Rev. Dr. Marlayna Schmidt of the Franklin Federated Church, Father Brian F. Manning of Saint Mary’s and others, including Adam Calvert, a delegate of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He explained that he had traveled to Ukraine as a missionary some 20 years ago and had lived there for two years, acquiring friends and a love for the area. Thus, the Russian invasion had been particularly upsetting and concerning.
But the individual who spoke the longest and with the greatest feeling was likely Father Borislav Kroner, pastor of Saint Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Woonsocket. Kroner was born in Zytomyr, in central Ukraine in 1976 and escaped to the US with his family in 1988 for religious reasons.
He noted that Sunday is celebrated as Pentecost in his church and he would rather be talking about that, a celebration that marks the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ.
Instead, he said, he had to talk about the horrible things that had happened to the country of his birth. “We never severed our connection with the country just as so many other immigrants from Ukraine and from different nations, we've held on to our traditions, our language, our way of life,” he said. He talked about how hard it was to see television images of the destruction of place he and his family know and have visited and he compared the invasion to Cain killing his own brother, Abel.
But he went on to more broadly denounce the long history of oppression of Ukraine by Russia, particularly in the Soviet Era. He asked whether anyone in the audience knew of the Holodomor, a famine deliberately created by Stalin to kill Ukraine farmers that many consider a genocide? Probably few did – but Kroner made sure to explain. Ukrainians, defending their faith and culture, had resisted the communist-bolshevists led by Josef Stalin, he said. In revenge, Stalin ordered the confiscation of all grain and its shipment to other parts of the Soviet Union.
The result, said Kroner, was the death by starvation of 4-7 million Ukrainians. “Can you imagine how horrible it was for them to watch their own children dying in front of them,” he asked?
“Need I remind you that Bolshevism didn't only cost the lives of millions of Ukrainians. No, you're talking probably 30 to 35 million all over the former Soviet Union. How about Mao's China? Probably another 30 to 40 million. By most conservative estimates, communism has taken about 100 million lives all over the world. That's not a joke,” he said.
Now, he said, Vladimir Putin, who has asserted that the breakup of the Soviet Union was a great tragedy, is bringing back the old songs of the Soviet Union, just with new words – and Putin is trying to recreate what the USSR once was, he warned.
He also noted that the war is not new. It began in 2014 with the invasion of Crimea, when the world did nothing.
At the end of his remarks, he noted that donations for Ukraine are being accepted at his church, at 74 Harris Ave., Woonsocket, RI 02895.