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Bishop to Celebrate Mass in Solidarity With Ukraine and Russia


March 24, 2022

In communion with Pope Francis and in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and Russia who are suffering from the violence of war, the faithful of Altoona-Johnstown are invited to a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Mark Bartchak on March 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona. On that day, Pope Francis will celebrate an Act of Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, which will occur during a Penitential Celebration at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The same Act of Consecration will be carried out on the same day by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner, at the Marian Shrine in Fatima, Portugal.

“Catholics associate this act of consecration with the apparitions of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima,” said Bishop Bartchak. “In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima said that in order to put an end to war and the persecution of the Church, we must pray and consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is one of the most profound expressions of the intercessory prayer of Mary who is the Mother of the Church. Under that title, she is the patron saint of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.”

On March 25, the Catholic Church observes the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – a celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Mary that through the power of the Holy Spirit, she was to conceive a child who would be the Savior of the World.

Joining Bishop Bartchak at the Mass on March 25 at the Altoona Cathedral will be Father Andriy Kelt, the pastor of two Ukrainian Catholic parishes in Cambria County. Deacon Anthony Dragani, who serves at those same two Ukrainian Catholic parishes, will also be present.

Leading up to the 5:30 Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered that afternoon beginning at 4 p.m. at the Cathedral, with various priests on hand to hear Confessions. Bishop Bartchak will then lead the Rosary at 4:30 p.m.

During the Mass, a special collection will be taken for the benefit of those suffering from the effects of the war. All proceeds will go to Catholic Relief Services. Bishop Bartchak has also invited all parishes in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown to take up similar collections, which will also be sent to Catholic Relief Services.


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