My brothers and sisters,

I am sure that you share my horror at the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the deaths and injuries of innocent Ukrainians and the destruction taking place within their country. I know there are people of Ukrainian descent here in our state who have relatives and friends who are now in harm’s way, and I offer the prayers and the support of the Catholic community to them as they desire.

In light of all of this, Pope Francis has designated Ash Wednesday, March 2, as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Ukraine. I ask all Catholics tomorrow to take on the ashes of sorrow in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, to pray and fast with a particular intercession for peace in that country and the withdrawal of troops back across the Russian and Belarus borders.

Mary, Queen of Peace, please preserve the world from the madness of war.

Reunite families torn apart.

Comfort frightened children.

Console the sick and elderly who suffer alone.

Shield the men and women defending their homes.

Change the hearts of leaders to seek peaceful solutions.

Bring harmony to our broken world.

We ask all this through your help and intercession, Most Blessed Mother, as you lead and direct us each day into greater love for and obedience to your Son, Jesus Christ.