Archbishop Mark O’Toole attended the solemn 90th Anniversary commemoration of the Holodomor Famine on Saturday, November 25th, at the Senedd in Cardiff. The Holodomor, also known as the Great Ukrainian Famine, marked a tragic chapter in history, resulting in the deaths of millions of Ukrainians. The Welsh Parliament has officially recognised it as a genocide against the Ukrainian people.
Archbishop Mark was honoured to speak at the event, joining other faith leaders, the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, Bishop Kenneth Nowokowski (the Ukrainian Bishop in the UK), the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Mayor, the Ukraine Response Team, and members of the Ukrainian community.
“We know that it is the aspiration of Wales to be a place of Sanctuary. I want to recognise today that this is not just an aspiration. We welcome the members of the Ukrainian community among us” he said.
The service included poignant moments, such as the laying of wreaths and sheaves of wheat to symbolise the stolen harvest during the famine.
Reflecting on the occasion, Archbishop Mark expressed his condolences, saying, “Today, we pray for a just peace. We pray for all those who died as a result of the Holodomor – the genocide – and as a result of the war that is still ongoing. We pray that the Lord may grant them a place of peace and rest in His Heavenly Kingdom, where ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes’.”
In a significant step towards strengthening the bond between the Welsh and Ukrainian communities, Archbishop Mark revealed that Bishop Nowokowski had formally requested help supporting the Ukrainians population in Wales. Responding to this appeal, Archbishop Mark wholeheartedly granted his consent.
A permanent parish home for the Ukrainian population of South Wales is being sought in the Archdiocese to serve their spiritual and social needs. Archbishop Mark noted that Ukrainian Community need “a place where they can worship. Where they can gather together and where they can support and encourage one another.”