Sunday, April 24 is a holy day for many Ukrainians: Orthodox Easter. It also marks two months since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
In San Francisco, around 100 people gathered at St. Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church to Celebrate Easter. They began at 11 p.m. Saturday night and continued services for four hours, until early Sunday morning. Attendees sang, lit candles, and kept their loved ones in Ukraine in their prayers.
Vasyl Zhebrovsky attended these Easter services in San Francisco. He is from the Ukrainian city of Odesa but is staying currently in Dublin, CA.
Zhebrovsky came to the U.S. to attend a wedding but says he's been unable to fly home because of the Russian invasion.
"The main symbol of the easter, the good things never stop, the bad things will be stopped,” Zhebrovsky said, noting the holiday has even more significance now that he is continually worried about the safety of friends and family back home.
Zhebrovsky said his friend lives on the tenth floor of a building in Odesa where media and officials say a Russian missile attack left eight people dead on Saturday.
Zhebrovsky was aghast that such an attack could occur right before Easter.
“Everybody is preparing for the church, they do the special things, they prepare themselves, at this moment the rocket hits from [around] 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. the civilian building,” Zhebrovsky said.
Thankfully, Zhebrovsky said his friend escaped and is safe. But his friend is now mourning the neighbors he knew who did not make it out alive, including one mother and her infant.
This Easter, Zhebrovsky is hoping the spirit of the holiday compels the world to keep paying attention to what is happening in Ukraine.
"I want to say thank American nation for supporting Ukraine,” he said.
In a time of so much heartache and crisis, Easter has offered Vasyl a glimmer of light.