Campus Ministry hosts Prayers for Peace to honor Ukraine


Photo by Elisa Zody - Reporter

On March 24, 2022, the Campus Ministry launched a Prayers for Peace in honor of Ukraine. The prayer service will take place every Thursday through April 14, 2022 during chapel hours.

Elisa Zody, Reporter

Every Thursday from March 24 to April 14, the California Lutheran University Campus Ministry will be holding Prayers for Peace. The vigils, which are taking place right after chapel hours in the Samuelson Chapel Rose Garden, are intended to reflect on and pray for the people of Ukraine. 

The first prayer vigil for the people of Ukraine started on Thursday, March 24 from 12:05-12:15 p.m. Members of the Cal Lutheran community joined together in front of the Peace Pole while Interim Campus Pastor Mark Holmerud and Provost Leanne Nielsen recited a prayer. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin began his invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. His justification was that he was threatened by Ukraine’s recent westernization and he wanted to demilitarize them. According to ABC News, thousands of Russians have signed petitions and protested the war. 

According to BBC News, towns in Ukraine are experiencing small victories as they fight back against Russian troops. Yevheni Velichko, the mayor of Voznesensk, Ukraine, said in an article that many local residents stayed behind to help him protect his town. With the help of British weapons, they were able to push back the invading army by 100 km. 

Ukrainian forces are also recapturing towns that have previously been seized by Russia. Makariv, a town west of Kyiv, is successfully reversing Russian advancements and the southern city of Kherson is beginning to increase its number of troops. The BBC says that Russia might have to change their tactics due to Ukraine’s strong fightback. 

While this information is hopeful, it is still important to recognize the lives that have been lost due to the war. According to NPR, over 900 Ukrainian civilians have died since Feb. 24 along with a growing number of Russian soldiers. 

Cal Lutheran Pastor Mark Holmerud said this is the biggest reason why the chapel staff felt compelled to do something to honor the victims and vocalize peace.

“It’s the level of damage that’s being inflicted on the people of Ukraine and the missiles that are being fired into civilian areas,” Holmerud said. 

The Prayers for Peace are held in the Chapel Rose Garden by the Peace Pole. According to Holmerud, Cal Lutheran’s Peace Pole was brought here in 2010, but the movement started in Japan by Masahisa Goi after World War II. It shares the message “May Peace Prevail On Earth” in different languages. Peace Poles symbolize international peace and there are more than 200,000 standing all over the world. 

Junior Kyrie Fairbairn said that her favorite part of the vigil was The Prayer of St. Francis which says “To be consoled as to console; To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love.”

“It takes the emphasis off of us and puts it onto caring about the people around us,” Fairbairn said. “There’s people dying in Russia as well as Ukraine and a lot of the people in Russia aren’t choosing to be a part of this. We need to pray for everyone who is being affected.”

Director of International Admissions Dane Rowley said that immediately after the invasion his team connected with different offices around campus to discuss how students from all over Eastern Europe were going to be affected. There are six students at Cal Lutheran who are from Ukraine and Russia and they were all offered support by International Student Services.

Rowley also said that he recognizes crises happening in different parts of the world and he has had conversations with people from the Middle East and Africa as well.

“As an institution with the values and mission that we have, we can simultaneously care for multiple crises even though it’s hard because there is so much happening,” Rowley said.

In the upcoming weeks, leaders of faith from the surrounding community will be joining and conducting their versions of a prayer vigil and praying for the people of Ukraine. This Thursday, March 31, Rabbi Barry Diamond from the Temple Adat Elohim will be leading the prayer at the Cal Lutheran Peace Pole.  

Junior Emma Janzen, who attended Prayers for Peace on Thursday, said praying for peace should take place regularly. 

“I think as an institution of faith it’s important to understand that there is a duty of all people to show God’s love to everyone. I think that praying for the world and praying for peace is something that we need to be doing all of the time,” said Janzen.