Good Friday walk prays for peace in Ukraine | News

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About 75 people and local clergy turned out for an Ecumenical Prayer Walk for Peace at 1 p.m. on Good Friday, praying at each of 14 stops for the end of the war in Ukraine.

They walked the Stations of the Cross along Stacy Boulevard, from the Fisherman’s Memorial to Boudreau Field and back, all the while praying for peace.

“We welcome you to this peace walk, the Stations of the Cross, for Ukraine,” said the Rev. Sue Koehler-Arsenault. “Today we gather with Christians around the world and people of goodwill to walk the Stations of the Cross.” The Stations of the Cross and its 14 stops traces Jesus’ journey from judgment to tomb.

The mile-long walk was hosted by the Annisquam Village Church and its pastor, Koehler-Arsenault, and it included other local clergy.

People dressed in yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Some carried yellow and blue balloons. A flag of peace, the Ukrainian flag, and a cross wrapped in red cloth were carried at the head of the procession.

At each stop, they recited a prayer and listened to recited written passages from those who fled the war, with witnesses describing hearing sounds of fighter jets, hearing explosions and seeing their children take shelter in their bedrooms.

They then read a common prayer that concluded with the lines: “Rescue your people. Unite the human family. End this war. Amen.”

Sarah Wetzel of Gloucester said she was glad to be able in an ecumenical way to offer peace on Good Friday. “It’s really good to be all together.”

“It’s distressing,” Wetzel said of what is going on in Ukraine. “It’s just distressing. In this day and age we have to deal with this kind of atrocity, it’s terrible.”

“What brings me out is the community call to action,” said Katherine Prum of Gloucester, “to be in solidarity with not just with Ukraine but places that are struggling with crises.”

“This year we gather mindful of the catastrophic invasion of Ukraine,” Koehler-Arsenault said. Since the war began, she told the crowd, Ukrainian-American artist and photojournalist Tatyana Borodina has been gathering stories that capture the shock and horror of the war.

“Working with Father Jim McDermott, Jesuit priest, they have written prayers and stories that we will share today,” Koehler-Arsenault said.

The Rev. Rona Tyndall of West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational, read a passage from ‘Natalia of Kyiv’ as her family fled. Tyndall read: “I will never forgive the occupiers for my mother’s words: ‘We have already lived our lives. You save the children’.’’

“All people who suffer can identify with Jesus, and we Christians believe that death does not have the last word, and so when we look to this suffering, we look to end it and we acknowledge that God is greater than all of this,” said the Rev. Norma Brettell, pastor of Trinity Congregational Church in Gloucester, along the way.

Annisquam Village Church member Debbie Fichera said of the walk, “It’s very moving,” as she carried her small, shivering dog, Jack, to the next station. “And it’s showing compassion on a day you could be busy.”

Walkers were also encouraged to donate to the nonprofit, non-governmental World Central Kitchen through the Cape Ann For Ukraine World Central Kitchen Fund, Koehler-Arsenault said $4,000 has already been raised for the nonprofit that is feeding Ukrainian refugees. 

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