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'That’s how eager they are to defend.' Hamtramck Ukrainian church members joined war, priest says

Posted at 6:20 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 15:01:20-04

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (WXYZ) — “We're fighting a monster, we need a miracle,” said Father Daniel Schaicoski, pastor at Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Church in Hamtramck.

A miracle is what Father Schaicoski and his parishioners are praying for, hoping that Ukrainian forces can hold off the advancing Russian troops. They had been hoping for peace until the invasion began.

He says his church is about 75% new immigrants from Ukraine.

“I have people from my parish, from this community who are there fighting," Fr. Schaicoski said. "Young people... who left families and children here... and are fighting there. That’s how eager they are to defend.”

In Metro Detroit, there’s a deep connection to Ukraine. Andre Vygnanski of Macomb has many close family members still there, including his mother, nieces, and nephews. He chats with them regularly as they brace for war.

“How are they doing," asked 7 Action News Reporter Brett Kast.

"I mean, yeah that’s tough to answer," Vygnanski responded. "I mean it’s war, right? You’re hearing bombs and shootings and guns.”

Vygnanski and others are horrified watching the images of war on their TVs, having hoped peace would prevail.

"One of the probably saddest things that I don't think I’ll ever forget is my daughter yesterday asking 'What’s war? Daddy, can you explain what war means?” Vygnanski said,

Father Daniel also runs a Ukrainian school in Warren, where many kids have fathers now at war.

“I go to the school and children are crying, teachers who are not Ukrainians, they are crying,” Fr. Daniel said. “It's a very difficult situation for us, but we’re people with strong faith.”

As he consoles his parishioners in their emotional battle, he knows no matter what the heart and soul of Ukrainians will prevail.

“We will stay standing after this is all over, you’ll see. They’ll be standing, there’s no question,” Fr. Daniel said. “You feel terrible but at the same time you feel so proud for their courage, their determination to stand against this evil.”