Photo: – 8/11/17

Despite insults, threats, and even the use of physical force against them, the Orthodox faithful of the Holy Annunciation Church in Kolomiya, Ukraine, in the Transkarpatya region, are holding an ongoing prayer vigil outside the walls of their church, reports the Ivano-Frankivsk Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The Holy Annunciation Church has been the subject of an ongoing battle between the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the Uniate Greek Catholic Church which has illegitimately seized the church building. On June 4, 2017, the feast of Pentecost, Uniate priests with the support of soldiers of “the Black Hundred” group made a raider siege of the church, fraudulently entering the church and celebrating their liturgy there. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church made a statement soon after, explaining the historical situation surrounding the parish.

Two weeks ago, the Ukrainian Orthodox diocese published a video showing clergy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church brutally beating women and other Orthodox believers outside the Annunciation Church. The Uniates had seized the church on October 18.

The Uniates who broke into the church are claiming that they broke no seals, but that their entrance into the Orthodox temple was a “miracle of the Lord,” reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.

On November 4, the Orthodox faithful, headed Fr. Vitaly Dimnich, prayed an Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos outside the walls of the church that legally belongs to them.

The Ivano-Frankivsk Diocese of the Ukrainian Church is currently looking into national and international means of legal redress. “The state has an obligation to simply stop the ongoing infractions. The government should abide by the laws it itself has written. The governmental authorities need to fulfill their functions, not just watch the doers of lawlessness,” stated Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the deputy head of the Ukrainian Church’s Department for External Church Relations.