A prayer vigil for peace in Ukraine is being planned for this weekend in Steinbach. It will take place Sunday evening at Mennonite Heritage Village.
Executive Director Gary Dyck says the idea for the service really stems from a cenotaph that stands on the grounds of the museum. The cenotaph, which is located in their parking lot, near the front doors of the museum, is a reminder of the violence experienced by so many people in Ukraine, a country to which Mennonites in Canada are connected to.
"During times of grief and tragedy, we need to come together as a community, support one another and pray for an end to the violence we see," says Dyck. "This prayer vigil is for both those that feel shaken by what is happening in Ukraine and for those that want to pray peace and goodness back into that land."
In 1985, the cenotaph was raised at MHV, to remember the Mennonite victims of the 20th century. A bronze plaque has been installed on each of the six sides of the monument with an inscription to different Mennonite groups who suffered war, terror, anarchy, trauma, violence, famine and persecution from 1914 to 1953. Dyck says the sixth side of the plaque bears a plaque inscribed "To the Unknown Victims" of this period, reminding visitors that the monument was raised not just for our own family, friends and community who suffered, but to all those we do not know who also suffered from war and violence.
According to Dyck, the 20-foot cenotaph memorializes Mennonites and others who were displaced or killed during the violent decades following the Russian Revolution in what is now modern-day Ukraine. He notes at one point the Manitoba Legislature was considered for this cenotaph, but to make it less political, it was decided that MHV would be the site for it.
Dyck says the cenotaph is particularly poignant today as Ukraine, an area where many Mennonite ancestors lived through decades of violence and war, is once again embroiled in war and terror.
The prayer vigil will take place on Sunday at 7 pm. Dyck says the service will be an opportunity for Manitobans to show their solidarity for the people of Ukraine, to grieve and to pray for peace in that land.