On April 9, 2022, the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA joined in prayer the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church, honoring the memory of the victims of the April 9th tragedy, also known as Tbilisi massacre, referring to the events in Tbilisi, Georgia when an anti-Soviet demonstration for independence was brutally crushed by the Soviet authorities, resulting in 21 deaths and hundreds of injuries. April 9 is now known as the Day of National Unity of Georgia.
The prayerful gathering took place at St. Grigol of Khandzta Georgian Orthodox Church in Manville, NJ. Welcoming the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the UOC of the USA, His Grace Bishop Saba, the ruling hierarch of the North-American Diocese of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church, reflected upon the tragic events of 1989 and the loss of human life due to the atrocities of the Soviet regime, which let to further unrest and invasion by the Russian Federation of the two sovereign regions of Georgia, the Black Sea coastal region of Abkhazia and the central Georgian region of South Ossetia (Tskhinvali).
Following the Memorial service, which was concelebrated by His Grace Bishop Saba, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel and about 20 priests of the Ukrainian and Georgian Orthodox communities, the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora – Metropolitan Antony, addressed the congregation of about 150 people that gathered in the evening hours of the day for a solemn prayerful commemoration.
“We share in the pain of the historical past of the Georgian community and mourn the loss of the innocent lives of 1989. As Ukrainians, we know the pain which the Soviet regime imposed on various parts of the so-called Soviet Republics. The Ukrainian people suffered the massacre of the Genocidal Famine of 1932-1933, during which about 10 million people lost their lives due to a forced starvation. We feel the pain of the Georgian community because we experienced the pain of the modern Russian massacres during the Revolution of Dignity, when the lives of over 100 people were cut short and these days, we all live through the painful 40 and some days of the Russian Aggression against the peaceful people of Ukraine. As people of Faith, we practice what we do the best – WE PRAY for the lost lives; we pray for the men and women of our armed forces, and we are here to offer support to each other, as the saga of Russian brutality continues against the people of Georgia and Ukraine.”
Welcoming the remarks of the Consul General of Georgia in New York, Honorable Diana Zhgenti, who offered condolences to the Ukrainian Orthodox community on behalf of the Georgian-American community, Archbishop Daniel reflected upon the time of the ecclesiastical year, during which this prayer service takes place, stating:
“…we are heading towards the conclusion of the Great and Holy Lent, the most sacred time of the Holy Orthodox Church, where we all try to perfect ourselves and to change the way in which we live and behave.
These days, we are all faced with the behavior of destruction, as we commemorated the lost lives of the Georgian tragedy and the ongoing attempted invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. We pray this evening for the thousands of innocent lives lost due to the hunger for power, control and domination by the political and religious leaders of Russia; we also pray for our enemies (just the way our Lord taught us to pray)… we pray that the attitude and the heart of the aggressor will change... we pray that the religious leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church would “wake up” and choose the side of life and not of the threat to the sacredness of God’s creation… we pray for the restoration of the peace and tranquility for the nations of Georgia and Ukraine…”
Chanters of the local Georgian Orthodox community and the choir of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary sang the prayerful responses to the Memorial Service.
Following the liturgical service, the community hosted an open Lenten dinner for those in attendance.
LET US CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR THE PEACE IN UKRAINE AND GEORGIA!