Ukrainians who fled war celebrate Orthodox Easter in Montreal
Over 500 people arrived for Easter blessings Sunday morning at St. Sophie Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral.
"I was really, really surprised," said Father Volodymyr Kouchnir.
The 9 a.m. gathering in Montreal's Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie borough was so large that he decided to bless each person and their Easter basket outside.
The large church wasn't quite big enough to hold the massive turnout, which Kouchnir said included many refugees.
Anastasia Ternovksa is spending her first Easter in Montreal after fleeing Eastern Ukraine in May. She came to church to express her gratitude.
"When you close curtains, and you hear airplanes, you hear bombing and stuff like that…there is no way you don't believe in God, and here I'm to say thank you that my family is alive, I'm alive," she said.
Others are reminded of family members left behind.
"I feel very, very sad because of this war that many people they cannot celebrate Easter because they are not with us," said Maria Tymchuk, whose parents live in Ukraine.
While it's a difficult time for Ukrainians in Montreal and around the world, Father Kouchnir says Easter is a celebration of hope and resurrection,
"It's a victory over, you know, life over death, so also we pray for Ukraine as well that's very important today," he told CTV News.