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As Tensions in Ukraine Rise, a Community Watches and Waits

For many local Ukrainian families, news overseas hits close to home.

For Cornel Osadsa, the turmoil in Ukraine is not a flickering image on his TV screen or a set of distant events unfolding 4,000 miles away.

His 88-year-old mother will spend hours reading the latest news on her computer, not even stopping for her morning coffee. Last week he learned a friend of a friend was killed in the protests. He and fellow parishioners at St. Michael the Archangel, a Ukrainian Catholic church in Woonsocket, spent Sunday praying for peace and reconciliation.

“It is a roller coaster, an emotional ride for everyone here,” said Osadsa, a 56-year-old web developer from North Grafton, Mass. “It’s difficult at times to fall asleep at night.”

So much so that Osadsa and his wife decided to take a break today—a self-imposed “news fast”—from all the coverage.

If anything major happens overseas, he’s certain his mother, who fled Ukraine to arrive in the U.S. in 1951, will let him know.

His church remains closely tied to the Ukrainian immigrant roots of the Blackstone River Valley, with mass still offered in Ukrainian. Like the other Ukrainian church in town, St. Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox, they draw congregants from a wide swath of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Everyone is following the fast-moving events in Ukraine incredibly closely, he said, with many giving and raising money to support the protestors. “I do believe this was a grassroots campaign of ordinary people against a despot,” he said.

His wish is for stability and peace, but speaking as thousands of Russian soldiers complete their incursion into the Crimean Peninsula, Osadsa believes the rhetoric has risen too high on both sides for now.

In the meantime, there is watching and worrying.

“We’ll check the news again tomorrow,” he said. “And start fresh again.”

Russell Archambault March 03, 2014 at 05:48 PM
Now that our president has spoken and he feels deeply concern on the issue, I am confident that this will get resolved. All I have to say is that I will pray for the Ukraine people. That's worth a lot more. God bless us all.
EG Mom March 03, 2014 at 08:40 PM
No war please.
Ira K. March 04, 2014 at 08:29 AM
Yes, it is horrific!!! I watched USSR - fall apart on TV from Pawtucket, RI as a child with minimum knowledge of English. I was born in a republic, now a country, where people are not as brave and bold as Ukrainians!!! Lukashenko rules that corner - already close to 20 years! I say it is time for a change, but if it takes so many lives lost, and, war like atmosphere - I rather let it be and be semi peaceful, very sensored, but at least clean and sort of sufficient. I think, b/c this crisis started during Olympics - those safety scares or terrorist acts never took place. In a way - this distracted attention and was horrific enough. To me - photos shared on FB of Maidan Sq - are realistic war like shots!!! I know enough local families - some from Odessa - who moved to RI, MA, NY in late 80's and early 90's. It is very unnerving to realize that there are relatives and close friends of these people who are stuck in modern day civil war zone!!! I have to say - having this guys summer house exposed - dropped thousands or millions of jaws & we don't know what Lukashenko and Putin have that they don't want us to see. I feel like this is reason Putin is trying yo show power and fearlessness now - as he realizes - what happened to this guy - could - eventually happen to him!!! To think this guy was just some director of a bunch of farms and now in power is little scary - but there are many that say he has done well by them... So, who knows?! My prayers are with people of Ukraine & those who still have friends and family there! Our - President - might be helpless on several levels with Putin. Unfortunately - in several situations - I see he acts as if a puppet... He tells each side what they want to hear in same day and is not stern enough when rules/agreements are broken. This is just my observation & opinion! Thank G-d for my adopted homeland!!! At least here - 8 years is maximum one is in office!!! Though - don't think only in Ukraine - politicians benefit from their posts, put stuff in their 'pockets', gain connections and try to keep things hush-hush!!! Just in some countries or circumstances it is revealed, put to light, exposed -- more so & earlier than others!!!
Mojo March 04, 2014 at 08:52 AM
No boots on the ground, planes in the air or war ships in the sea. We have enough problems in this country that we don't need to take on anyone else's. Put the war machine away and concentrate on this country for once.

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