Diocese of St. Augustine

Office of the Bishop
March 11, 2022

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The situation with Ukraine seems only to worsen daily. Atrocities are being committed on innocent civilians, especially children and the elderly. So many refugees have already had to flee their homeland: families separated, fathers left behind to defend their country against the unwarranted incursion into Ukraine.

The Gospel reminds us to pray persistently. I urge everyone to pray ardently for a peaceful resolution to this crisis. This urgent life issue could have a dramatic impact on worldwide peace.

For those who wish to assist with humanitarian support of the Ukrainian people and the refugees, I ask that contributions be made to Catholic Relief Services. In time, it may be our responsibility to assist with refugee re settlement — at that time; we would turn to the excellent resources and expertise Catholic Charities in our diocese, which provides in such situations.

In 1965, during a time when the Cold War was such a precarious danger for the entire world, Archbishop Hurley enhanced Missión Nombre de Dios and provided for the Great Cross (marking the site of the first Mass in our First Coast) as well as the Prince of Peace Chapel. It was only a few years after that that I, myself, and so many others were able to immigrate to America from an oppressive regime in Cuba. Many of us in the diocese, having escaped tyranny over the decades, have been able to live a life of freedom, justice, and peace.

Today, the presence of Our Lady of Fatima remains in a special chapel at Our Lady of La Leche National Shrine. It stands as a place of pilgrimage for all who seek the Lord’s intercession through Mary. I would encourage pilgrimages, personal or in groups, to this sacred mission, a gift to our diocese and its heritage, to
pray for world peace, especially at this time of crisis.

I ask that the needs of the current crisis in Ukraine be included in the General Intercessions at all of the parishes and missions in the Diocese of St. Augustine for the coming few weekends:

For the people of Ukraine, their families, refugees, and their needs. For peaceful resolution to the crisis and for all world leaders to continue to support the eff orts to protect human life and human rights. Let us pray to the Lord.

Our faithful have always been so generous to parishes and the diocese, and I thank you for that. I now ask for your earnest prayer this Lent. Perhaps daily this Lent we can each pray for the peace of Christ which can overcome even this tragic situation.

With assurance of my prayerful remembrance of you and your own intentions, I am Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend Felipe J. Estévez, S.T.D.
Bishop of St. Augustine