The New Jersey State House, built in 1792, is located in Trenton and is the capitol building for the U.S. state of New Jersey. On March 8th, 2022, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy greeted all the members of the 220th legislature, guests, faith leaders, veterans, and New Jersians, prior to presenting his $48.9 billion budget address Tuesday afternoon, highlighting a new property tax relief program.
Before giving his address, Governor Murphy expressed his thoughts on the current war in Ukraine.
“As we sit here this afternoon, 4,000 miles away another anxious evening is darkening across Ukraine -- an anxious evening that will give way to another fitful night.
As New Jerseyans and as Americans we stand unified, with our allies and so many across the world, in calling for an end to the unprovoked and desperate aggression of the Putin regime against the free people of Ukraine. New Jersey stands in support of the international efforts to bolster the Ukrainian resistance and the economic sanctions against Putin and his crony government.
Our administration is assessing what financial or business exposure we may have to the Russian government or Russian-owned business interests or securities -- including in our pension funds. I also thank Senator Paul Sarlo for leading the Legislature’s bipartisan response in support of this effort.
And let me make it perfectly clear -- we will take whatever actions are needed to ensure New Jersey taxpayer dollars are not supporting Putin’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine.
New Jersey is proud to be home to one of our nation’s largest Ukrainian American communities. We are also the home of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States of America.
I am incredibly honored that we are joined today by His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and His Eminence Archbishop Daniel.”
With these words, Governor Murphy turned to Metropolitan Antony and invited him to come up and lead the legislative body in prayer and provide the day’s invocation.
Bowing his head, His Eminence called upon Almighty God to look down upon all gathered inside the legislative chamber and bless all who work there to serve the needs of those who have entrusted them to maintain the good estate of their lives. He asked that the Lord impart the governor and his staff with an abundance of wisdom, and that they will lead the government in contributions that will go beyond the borders of their own state, to make the entire nation the best in the world.
Pausing, His Eminence continued by asking that Christ bless the people of Ukraine who suffer greatly, yet again, and that He grant them the strength and endurance to deal with the horror concocted and conducted in the mind of a single isolated man who seems unable to comprehend evil. He asked that the Lord open the eyes of the invading forces to see that the people they are killing are not the enemy but are human beings whose lives worth as much as their own, and that He send them home to their own families and communities to build their own nation instead.
Metropolitan Antony continued by asking God to strengthen His people, the people of the Ukrainian nation, so that it may rise up from the ashes like the Phoenix, as it has so many times throughout history. He asked that the Lord continue to call forth the supporters of Ukraine, who have valiantly stepped up and answered the call, and bless all the people of the world, especially those in New Jersey, who have contributed beyond all expectations, and grant that they experience the gratitude and love the citizens of Ukraine have for them.
His Eminence concluded the prayer by thanking the Lord for His abundant blessings upon the State of New Jersey, stating that we worship Him from the depths of our hearts and souls. Amen.
As many in the chamber crossed themselves, Metropolitan Antony took the opportunity to say a few words, and express his own gratitude and- thanks on behalf of Archbishop Daniel, his brother bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church for all the support. He explained that the Metropolia Center, established in 1951, of the Church is located in Somerset/South Bound Brook, and invited everyone present to stop in for a visit to the center of all Ukrainian Orthodox churches outside the borders of Ukraine, except Canada.
His Eminence expressed what a blessing the governor and his wife, Tammy, have been, along with so many government officials, faith leaders, and citizens of the state, appearing at rallies and gatherings in support of Ukraine. He continued by stating the finally the world is seeing the horror that Mr. Putin in inflicting upon Ukraine, and the world is not afraid to speak up. The Ukrainian nation has historically suffered horrors inflicted by their neighbor. In 1932-33 alone between 7-11 million Ukrainians were starved to death in the Holodomor, when every single grain was confiscated from the hungry and shipped to Moscow or destroyed. Millions died during the years of Soviet repression. Demographers tell us that due to the tragedies of this past century alone, the population of Ukraine is down an estimated 100 million people. In other words, we have lost not only the initial millions, but, generations of their descendants who were never born.
Turning to the governor, Metropolitan Antony thanked him for inviting him and Archbishop Daniel to join them on this day. Thanking him for the kindness he has exhibited in these trying times, His Eminence asked Governor Murphy and all those gathered to continue praying for Ukraine and her people. Not to just keep Ukraine in their perfunctory thoughts and prayers, but to pray deeply and fervently, because prayers are powerful and can result in miracles.
The members in the chamber stood and applauded Metropolitan Antony as the governor stepped up to the podium. Before commencing with his speech, Governor Murphy stated, “Thank you, Your Eminence. May God be with you both, and with the People of Ukraine. Slava Ukraini!”