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SAN DIEGO – For the Ukrainian community, Easter is a holiday symbolizing hope.

“Our Savior, Jesus Christ, he was suffering a lot, he passed through that and he resurrected,” said Father Yurri Sas with St. John the Baptizer Ukrainian Catholic Church. “By his resurrection we got hope and the same hope we need to have in our soldiers, our nation, we resurrect.”

After two years of not being able to reunite due to COVID-19, dozens of members of San Diego’s Ukrainian community came together for a traditional mass at Saint Augustine Monastery Chapel in North Park.

“This war has united all Ukrainians and it is wonderful to see as many of us here together,” said Nataliya Lylak, who attended the service with her family.

Lylak was in Ukraine celebrating her mother’s birthday when the war broke out. She stayed longer to help the refugees fleeing the city inside the train stations.

“We are very much together as one nation and we will not just overcome, we will win this war- we will succeed,” said Lylak.

Sas preaches to the community they will win this war by love not hate.

“We know we can’t fight evil by evil, we can fight evil only by love,” Sas said.

On Sunday, Sas blessed dozens of easter baskets filled with traditional items including colorful easter eggs called “pysanka,” and “paska” which is the traditional Ukraine Easter bread and meat and cheese.

Sas said as the war continues, he wants to let everyone know peace is coming.

“Today is the biggest feast of love and hope and at this point, you can see a lot of people over here,”he said.