ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester’s Ukrainian community is keeping a close eye on the developments in Ukraine and Russia.

“I think that's the first thing that we all want is peace," said Pastor Rite Reverend Mitred Archpriest Philip Weiner, the leader of St. Josaphat's Ukrainian Catholic Church on Ridge Road. "We don't want a war. We want peace. Ukrainians are peaceful people."

What You Need To Know

  • Father Phil says the tensions in Ukraine with the threat of a potential Russian invasion make for a challenging time for the local Ukrainian community

  • Rochester Ukrainian groups are preparing to help Ukrainian immigrants, just in case some people from Ukraine are forced to leave their homeland

  • Many in the Ukrainian community are turning to prayer

Known as Father Phil, he says that there are more than 40,000 Ukrainians in Rochester and Monroe County, which would make it one of the largest Ukrainian communities in the country.

The White House has begun referring to Russia's moves into Ukraine as an "invasion" after Russian President Vladimir Putin Russia launched a widespread attack on Ukraine on Thursday.

Weiner says the tensions make for a challenging time for the local Ukrainian community.

“It's a very stressful time because there's just so much uncertainty there,” Weiner said. “And the attitude that I've experienced from people that have relatives there, their immediate relatives there [are] sitting on pins and needles because they don't know what's going to happen with their families.”

Should there be a full-fledged war, it's possible that many people who live in Ukraine will have to flee their country. And Father Phil says many could end up coming to communities like Rochester.

“People will probably be forced or be exiled from Ukraine,” he said. “We hope it doesn't come to that. But if they are forced to leave Ukraine, then that's something that actually will have to be dealt with somehow.”

For now, the community works to support each other and turns to prayer.

“I think we are prepared to be able to give aid to whoever comes here or to help them settle,” Weiner said. “I don't think there's really an issue nor problem with that.”

Weiner believes the more prayers, the better.

“We are praying for peace,” he said. “And the most important thing that we could do is pray for peace — pray for peace that somehow there'll be a peaceful solution to this.”