Russia-Ukraine News: Governor Greg Abbott Visits Pokrova Ukrainian Catholic Church in Houston on “Day of Prayer for Ukraine” in Texas

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Governor Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that Sunday will be a statewide designated day of prayer for Ukraine. Abbott was in town to visit a Ukrainian Catholic church north of Houston.

Around 10 a.m. Sunday, Abbott arrived at the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Pokrova, near West Gulf Bank, where he addressed the congregation after his two-hour service. Abbott’s wife Cecilia was also present. They are both Catholics.

“No one can quite understand the extent of the pain that some of you are going through right now. It’s unfair,” Abbott said. “Dare I say, it’s bad what’s happening in Ukraine right now. There’s no reason, no valid reason why Ukraine is being invaded. It’s horrifying for the Ukrainian people who are bombed, assaulted and destroyed, and killed as they are.”

More than 100 parishioners gathered for worship and prayer, which they usually do on Sunday mornings. But, over the past two and a half weeks, their minds and hearts have been thinking of the more than 2 million Ukrainians who fled the country after Russia’s invasion and attacks.

“I didn’t sleep well. You never know who’s going to die next. Going forward, I have no idea how it’s going to end,” said Alex, one of the parishioners who didn’t want to be identified only by first name. “I told my friends who were born in Texas, this is the modern-day Alamo. President Zelensky is like William B. Travis.”

Serhiy Bobrovnyk, another parishioner, said he was worried about his family, some of whom live in Kiev. Bobrovnyk said they refused to evacuate the country and persisted in staying in the Ukrainian capital.

“They say it’s their land. Yes, I fear for their safety, but I’m really proud and excited by their heroism, that they show no concern,” he said.

“It’s a mix of emotions because a lot of damage has been done to my country. A lot of people have been killed. But at the same time people are defending their homeland,” Vitalii Tarasiuk, Consul General of Ukraine told Houston. “People are defending their freedom. So they feel anger and rage because we were attacked without provocation and many civilians are killed.”

Several buildings, including the historic Richmond Courthouse and Abbot’s mansion in Austin, will be lit in blue and yellow colors, representing the Ukrainian flag.

There have also been several community protests in the Houston area over the past week, such as in Conroe and Clear Lake, showing their support and solidarity with Ukraine.

“Some people have pledged to go and fight for the freedom and independence of Ukraine in the international legion that Ukraine has organized,” Tarasiuk said.

“I have the impression that all nations have become united, despite their differences and political problems. This is very important,” Bobrovnyk said.

The church holds a daily divine liturgy at 10 a.m. and nightly prayers at 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Religious leaders said they would continue to host these services as long as the war persists between Ukraine and Russia.

SEE RELATED STORY: Native Ukrainian mother and son create fundraiser in Houston for those in need in Ukraine

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Christi C. Elwood