BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — Texas A&M faculty members Dr. Artem Rogovskyy and his wife Yulia Rogovskyy couldn't make it into the office on Thursday. The two native Ukrainians remained home from campus, horrified at the online communication from both sets of their parents.
Artem's mother in Kiev was so frightened by the sounds of missiles around her home, she was pale and shaking while speaking to her son. Miles north, near Chernobyl, Yulia's parents hid in their basement as they awaited Friday night's military conflict.
Dr. Rogovskyy noted that many Ukrainians are joining volunteer territorial defense forces.
“AK-47s are being handed to civilians to protect the city," he said. "... I wish I were there. Because by nature I can’t just sit by and wait.”
Ukrainian and Russian academics have been drawn to Aggieland for decades; several of whom attend the only local Russian Orthodox congregation, Life-Giving Spring of the Mother of God, located near downtown Bryan. Parish priest, Father Cassian Sibley, shared that many in his parish are hurting and stressed by the invasion, and not all can agree on the same point.
“Because we are a Russian Orthodox Church abroad, we actually commemorate [Russian] patriarchal rule, and some Ukrainians already found that intolerable," Sibley noted. "... We already had that with a couple of people, and I’m sure this is only going to make that worse.”
Dr. Rogovskyy, though he maintains a friendship with Sibley, left the Bryan church years back, because he strongly disagreed with Russian members on matters concerning his home country. Rogovskyy now feels religiously isolated in Texas and said that the only other Russian Orthodox church he knows within hundreds of miles, prays for the Russian military. Additionally, he stated that the Russian Orthodox communities he's encountered in the U.S. refuse to refer to the violence in Ukraine as a war.
“[Russia] invaded the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, and after that I said, we can’t really pray for Russian forces in that church," he said.
Ultimately, Rogovskyy wishes his new home, the United States, would follow through on the Budapest Memorandum, and 'blacken the sky' over Ukraine.
“The U.S. And U.K. have to ensure that no jets, no military helicopters, will come and bombard or shell Ukrainian cities," he stressed.
For Father Cassian, he expressed that though the Orthodox church hierarchy in Russia may struggle on their position about President Vladimir Putin's actions, he does not.
“I think it’s unjust," Sibley stated. "It’s an offensive war, and orthodox theology really does not provide any kind of justification for wars of aggression.
Because we are a Russian Orthodox Church abroad, we actually commemorate [Moscow] patriarchal rule, and some Ukrainians already found that intolerable ... We already had that with a couple of people, and I’m sure this is only going to make that worse.”
Sibley's congregation is collecting money to be used towards Ukrainian relief efforts. To make a donation, connect with The Life-Giving Spring of the Mother of God on Facebook:
Nonprofit UNICEF USA is also taking donations for children affected by the Ukrainian conflict: