North Texas Ukrainian church leader hopes for peaceful outcome to Russia-Ukraine conflict

The hope that a diplomatic solution is still on the table is what's driving Ukrainian-Americans living in North Texas.

In the Dallas area, St. Sophia Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the only Ukrainian church. It was hoping to hear more news of negotiations from President Joe Biden’s speech Tuesday afternoon. 

But in the meantime, religious leaders and local organizations in Texas are continuing to show support. 

Inside St. Sophia Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in The Colony is a safe haven. 

However, Father Frank Avant still can’t comprehend the possible human cost if the Russia-Ukraine crisis escalated into war.

"I just don’t want all these people to suffer again the way generations have suffered," he said.

Avant and other Ukranian-Americans heard President Biden's message that the threat remains high with the warning that a Russian invasion is distinctly possible.

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They heard Russian President Vladimir Putin claim he’s pulling back some forces from the border but that the U.S. hasn’t verified Russia’s de-escalation. 

Avant still believes some prayers are slowly being answered.

"There is hope the prayers soften hardened hearts and hate is turning at least tolerance," he said.

Vice President of the Ukrainian American Society of Texas Marta Petrash is reacting to the mixed signals coming from the U.S. and Russia with her mother living in Ukraine. 

"You have to trust by verify. That is what the United States is doing," she said. "Every dictator weighs risks and losses. I believe he realizes the risks are too high with the western world behind Ukraine."

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While Russia's next move is still unclear, Avant says St. Sophia is fostering hope and freedom. He’s chosen to fall back on his faith while praying for peace.

"Our church has been extremely focused on be at peace," he said. "Be calm with God. Everything is possible."

The Ukrainian American Society of Texas says it spent long hours the past week preparing all the resources needed if there was a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. 

Ukraine’s president has called for a National Day of Unity on Wednesday.