Berkeley parish lifts voices, prayers for Ukraine as war with Russia continues: 'It's heartbreaking'

"They want to feel contact from the outside world because they feel isolated right now."
BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Lifting their voices and prayers for Ukraine, Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley showed its support Saturday night.

"I think we're all brothers and sisters under God and this is just a horrible situation, said Fr. Ivan Toa. "I think we're all called to support each other."

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Support in prayer for those still in Ukraine, those who've fled, and those whose lives have been lost - more 350 civilians taken by this war so far.

"Tonight is a moment of grieving, of togetherness, of meditation, of prayer," said Stefano Flavoni, pianist and conductor.

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The choir are all alumni of UC Berkeley brought together by Marika Kuzma; the Ukrainian American once their director.

"I just sent a huge group email and said who's available, who can come rehearse and yeah big hearts these people, big hearts," said Kuzma, noting has family in Ukraine and keeps in contact daily.

"It's heartbreaking. Mainly what I sense from them is they want to feel contact from the outside world because they feel isolated right now."

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The parish put up their prayers and also raised funds Saturday night, adding to their collection for Ukraine.

"This Ash Wednesday the numbers were up," said Fr. You. "Our masses were packed and we collected over $3000 which is pretty phenomenal."

Coming together provides some peace in a time of turmoil.


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"I think having a service together allows us to experience the range of emotions that we're all feeling but don't know what to do," said Penny Washbourn, a parishioner.

Prayer, said Kuzma, is among the most powerful ways to help.

"What moves me is Ukrainians believe in the power of prayer," said Kuzma. "Every single email I get from them is pray for us, pray for us, pray for us."

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