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.”