Ukraine’s embattled religious orders keep faith and hope alive amid warfare

KYIV, Ukraine (OSV Data) — Catholic religious orders have carried out a major place in channeling life-saving humanitarian assist all through Ukraine since Russia’s February 2022 invasion, conserving hopes alive whereas persevering with to minister to the nation’s much-depleted Catholic communities.


“Although some have wanted to go away, most religious clergymen and sisters have stayed on — and their witness has been essential for Ukrainians,” Dominican Father Jaroslaw Krawiec, superior of the nation’s Dominican order, said. “(Together with their) frequent pastoral work, most religious properties and convents are distributing offers and sheltering refugees. In within the current day’s dramatic circumstances, their presence amongst these they’ve been despatched to serve has earned the Catholic Church good respect.”

Father Krawiec is definitely considered one of 20 Dominican clergymen, half from Poland, who’ve continued ministering in Ukraine, celebrating Loads, administering sacraments, and making frequent deliveries of meals and medicines, collected abroad, from their residence at Fastiv, 30 miles southwest of Kyiv.


Emergency personnel are seen Jan. 16, 2023, working on the internet web site the place an residence block was carefully damaged by a Russian airstrike in Dnipro, Ukraine. (OSV Data {photograph}/Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters)

All by means of the warfare, friars from Ukraine have been sending letters to their Dominican communities all through the globe, and to journalists, describing efforts by fellow clergy to keep up church life amid scenes of devastation and despair from Lviv inside the west to Izyum and Kherson in japanese Ukraine.

Throughout the letter dated Feb. 25, 2022, a day after the warfare outbreak, Dominican Father Petro S. Balog wrote: “All Dominican brothers preserve in Kyiv.” On April, 5, the day after the world found regarding the atrocities unleashed on civilians in Bucha, Father Krawiec wrote regarding the little metropolis inside the outskirts of Kyiv: “Until not too way back, it had been an oasis of peace. Now this fantastically positioned metropolis has turn into part of the historic previous of human wickedness.”

The Polish periodical W drodze is now publishing letters of the friars in a e-book, “Letters from Ukraine,” coming out earlier to the anniversary of the warfare.

Farther north in Kharkiv, merely 25 miles from the Russian border, Sister Renata Jurczak from the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity, popularly commonly known as Orionine Sisters after their founder, St. Luigi Orione, agrees the religious orders have been essential in sustaining morale.


The order has provided help for homeless youngsters as a result of the Nineteen Nineties in Kharkiv, the place it opened a home for single mothers in 2008.

Serving in Ukraine for 29 years little prepared her for what she has witnessed in present months.

On the eve of Russia’s invasion, fearing the worst, Bishop Pavlo Honcharuk of Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhia instructed Sister Jurczak, her fellow religious sisters and the 40 youngsters of their care to depart for western Ukraine.

“When the warfare started, there was little ammunition and defensive gear, and the Russians appeared set to take Kharkiv. The bishop feared there’d be scenes of rape and murder very similar to these (we later observed) in Bucha,” Sister Jurczak said from Nowy Sacz, Poland, Feb. 1.

“There was panic, concern and confusion, along with shock and incomprehension that we’ve been being bombed and shelled. The presence of clergymen and sisters — praying, struggling, even crying with them inside the cellars and metro stations — gave people monumental hope,” Jurczak said.

Catholic clergy from Poland are a major presence inside the seven dioceses that make up Ukraine’s Latin-rite Catholic Church, whereas nearly all Ukrainian-born clergy converse Polish as a second language or acquired teaching in Poland.

Beneath communism, Poland’s persecuted nevertheless formally working church provided lifeline help for Ukraine’s underground Catholics. When Ukraine turned neutral from the Soviet Union in December 1991, Polish clergymen and women religious helped make up for its post-communist shortage of native clergy.

And whereas some orders, such as a result of the Franciscans, now depend upon native vocations, others such as a result of the Dominican and Ursuline sisters, are largely made up of Poles with motherhouses in Poland.

Benedictine sisters in Lviv and Zhytomyr have sheltered over 700 refugees as a result of the warfare started.

“They’ve come from {the japanese} warfare zones of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and elsewhere — and with their properties bombed and demolished and their kin killed, they’ve nowhere to return to,” considered one of many Benedictines, Sister Bernadeta, instructed Polish KAI firm in December.

When the invasion was heralded by missile strikes and artillery barrages, Polish clergy bought a chance to depart — and some, such as a result of the Pauline Fathers of Mariupol, have been pressured to evacuate, leaving their residence inside the besieged metropolis’s Girl of Czestochowa parish to be commandeered as a Russian headquarters.

With the quite a few deciding on to stay on, nonetheless, tales of braveness and self-sacrifice turned frequent.

A Polish Salesian working in Odessa, Sister Anna Zajaczkowska, related to KAI how she and others had packed emergency provisions and taped up their convent residence home windows to forestall harm from flying glass.

A Sacred Coronary coronary heart priest from Lubien Kujawski in central Poland, Father Tadeusz Wolos, instructed Vatican Radio his parishioners in Irpin, Ukraine, had buried family members in gardens and backyards, whereas attempting to protect their newly constructed church, dedicated to St. Teresa of Lisieux.

Poland itself has remained the first trip spot for Ukrainian refugees, with 5.7 million crossing its borders between February and August, and loads of discovering shelter in Catholic parishes, convents and monasteries.

And whereas Polish religious orders have prepare monetary establishment accounts and launched assist appeals all by means of the battle, lay actions even have been key.

Poland’s division of the Knights of Columbus, with higher than 7,000 members unfold all through 33 dioceses, has despatched over 100 autos of meals and completely different offers to Ukraine with over $20 million worth of emergency assist, whereas the Order of Malta collected and donated an an identical sum all through 2022, plenty of it distributed by religious orders to the parents of Ukraine.

Moreover they’ve labored intently with the Ukrainian Catholic Church, headed by Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych. The Japanese-rite church’s private orders — such as a result of the Basilians of Kherson, Redemptorists of Berdyansk and Incarnate Phrase Fathers in Skadovsk — even have carried out heroic roles.

When a Ukrainian Catholic priest, Father Vitaliy Zubak, and Sister Darija Panast, of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, have been injured by Russian artillery fire whereas delivering Caritas assist near Kharkiv Jan. 24, Archbishop Shevchuk paid tribute to clergy who every day risked demise “serving to those whose lives have been broken by the Russian occupier.”

Father Krawiec, the Dominican superior, says he’s grateful for the “good wave of solidarity” confirmed from the first days of the warfare by church communities in Poland, inside the U.S. and elsewhere, who’ve donated assist, along with winter heaters and power mills, which can be handed on for the sick, aged and destitute.

He said “no one can know all the tales of sacrifice and dedication this warfare has led to, nevertheless they’ll be instructed sooner or later inside the histories of our religious orders.”

Jonathan Luxmoore writes for OSV Data from the UK.

Copyright © 2023 OSV Data