WILLIAMSBURG — Two neighborhood parishes reunited again Sunday, Aug. 28 — this time with a “human chain” stretching three blocks between the churches — to show solidarity for Ukraine as it battles with Russia.
It was the latest solidarity collaboration between Annunciation Roman Catholic Church, a Lithuanian parish, and Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church. The relationship began when Russian troops moved into the eastern European nation on Feb. 24.
About two-tenths of a mile separate the churches on North 5th Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood of northwest Brooklyn. Members of both congregations filled the gap by joining hands. Many sang songs from their homelands.
The gesture also served as a historical reenactment of a 400-mile human chain formed 33 years ago to demonstrate the independence movements of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia from the former Soviet Union. Ukraine’s independence day is Aug. 24, which was honored four days later with the Williamsburg event.
“The idea was that we should support our Ukrainian friends during this war,” said Father Valdemaras Lisovski — the new parochial vicar for the Lithuanian church. It is part of Our Lady of Mount Carmel-Annunciation Parish.
“So, we are all together, and we support them with this visible sign which comes from our history,” said Father Lisovski, who is from Lithuania.
The event began at 11 a.m. following Mass at each church. Once the chain formed, air horns sounded to signal a moment of silence.
Next came a procession up North 5th Street from Annunciation Church to Holy Ghost Parish, bearing the national flags of Lithuania, Ukraine, and the United States. Carrying the Stars and Stripes was Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel-Annunciation.
Several speakers addressed the “links” of the human chain that crowded around the steps of the Ukrainian Catholic church.
Included were Father Ivan Tyhovich, pastor of Holy Ghost parish, and Ukrainian Catholic Church Bishop Paul Chomnycky from the Eparchy of Stamford, Connecticut.
Jurgita Bilvaišienė, deputy consulate general in New York City from the Republic of Lithuania, also spoke. Frank Carone, chief of staff for Mayor Eric Adams, represented his boss, who was out of the country.
Members of both parishes praised the event.
“We all stand for the Ukrainians — Lithuanians, Americans, and Polish,” said Linas Vebeliunas from Annunciation. “And we’re going to keep praying for them. There’s nothing more you can do.”
Boris Derow, from Holy Ghost, reaffirmed the power of prayer.
“Absolutely, there’s a divine intervention going on,” he said. “Six months ago, everybody thought this would be over in a snap. But Ukrainian proved to the entire world that this is their land, and nobody can take it away.
“That is evidence enough of divine intervention — that there’s a different plan.”