South Orange church welcomes Ukrainian community at prayer service for peace

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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The pastor of South Orange’s Our Lady of Sorrows Church told those gathered for a March 29 prayer service that asking for God’s intercession will make a huge difference in ending the evils of war currently being experienced by the Ukrainian people, according to a press release from the Archdiocese of Newark.

“The people of Ukraine need God; the whole world needs God,” the Rev. Brian X. Needles, leader of Our Lady of Sorrows, told the more than 100 people in attendance, including several members of North Jersey’s Ukrainian community. “Ukraine is being decimated right now… but as Padre Pio reminds us, prayer is the greatest weapon we have. And tonight, we unleash that weapon.”

Padre Pio, also known as Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, was an Italian Franciscan Capuchin friar, priest, stigmatist and mystic, now venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church.

In addition to Needles’ comments, the prayer service featured music from the Our Lady of Sorrows choir and prayers recited in Ukrainian. The Rev. Sviatoslav Hot, leader of Maplewood’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Holy Ascension, also thanked everyone for supporting Ukraine during its ongoing conflict with Russia. Hot asked for everyone to continue to pray for the Ukrainians, saying that he believes their prayers have motivated the Ukrainian soldiers and saved innocent people’s lives.

Prior to this prayer service, Needles said, the parish collected $5,888 in donations for Catholic Relief Services’ Ukraine aid. Even more funds were collected during the March 29 prayer service. Additionally, he said, he will continue praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for peace in the region during the parish’s Eucharistic Adorations each week. He hopes all Catholics will “bombard Heaven with prayers” of their own, as well.

“Sometimes when we see what’s going on in the world, it can make us feel powerless — but we’re not,” Needles said. “There is nothing more powerful than a simple prayer sent to God. When we talk to God in prayer and beseech His love and His mercy, things can change, even if it’s in ways we did not expect. When we turn to the Lord and seek His power, great things can happen.” 

Visit for more information on Our Lady of Sorrows Church. For links to organizations that support Ukraine, go to

Photos Courtesy of Julio Eduardo Herrera/Our Lady of Sorrows Church