Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas First Lady visit Houston to show solidarity for Ukraine

Texas Governor Greg Abbott designated Sunday, March 13th as a statewide day of prayer for Ukraine. 

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He also spoke during services at the Pokrova Ukrainian Catholic Church in Houston. As prayers in Ukrainian filled the nave with the church, silent tears were wiped away by some parishioners. 

"The feeling of helplessness is so overpowering," says Iryna Petrovska Marchiano. 

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She says she is anxiously awaiting updates from her family in Ukraine. Marchianohas heard from friends doing supply runs in eastern cities that have been overrun by Russian troops. 

"They pass by cities and villages that are erased from the face of the earth. There is nothing left, there are no buildings," she says. 

Marchiano is also the spokesperson for HTX4Ukraine, a group of Houston-based Ukrainians and Ukrainian-Americans raising funds to provide medical and military aid. 

Joined by the First Lady, Texas Governor Greg Abbot attended Divine Liturgy at the church after declaring Sunday as a day of prayer for Ukraine across the state.

"There is one power greater than any enemy on earth, and that power is God," said the governor while addressing the congregation of about 100. 


In an interview after the service, he did acknowledge that for those with close ties to the conflict, prayer just isn't enough.

"There needs to be action, including action by the state of Texas with regard to Russia and sanctions on Russia, as well as the United States needs to take more action- stepping up to provide greater supplies, greater support, greater training, greater response so the Ukrainians will be able to fight back even stronger," he says.

Abbott discussed Texas's support in a private meeting following the service but stated he could not give specifics about additional aid, only saying leaders discussed "different strategies about more that can be done." 

Vitalii Tarasiuk, Consul General of Ukraine in Houston was in the meeting. 

Tarasiuk says donations they've received from Houstonians are helping to buy medical supplies and bulletproof vests. He's even heard from Texans telling him they are ready to fight, sharing in his anger about the invasion. 

"There is no message for Putin. He should leave Ukraine alone and shoot himself in a bunker somewhere," says Tarasiuk drawing comparisons between the Russian President and Adolf Hitler. 

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During the service, an offering was also taken up to help war victims, but after hearing stories of aid stuck at the border and denied visas, Marchiano says legislators should remove all hurdles for Ukrainian refugees to come to the States.

"These are people willing to go back there when this nightmare is over and raise it from the ashes," she says. 

She's holding onto hope that one day she'll also return with her youngest daughter who has never seen her hometown. 

"I want her to come and see the golden-domed cathedrals. I want her to come and see my hometown- the historic buildings that have lasted since the times of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the market squares. 

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"Through tears she continues, "I want to show her the rest of Ukraine, and there may not be the rest of Ukraine to show if we’re not going to do something about this."

For more information on HTX4Ukraine, visit