Since February 24, 2022, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, the Brother Sun Foundation (Fundacja Brat Słońce), established by the Province of St. Anthony and Bl. James of Strepar in Poland (Cracow), has been raising funds for Ukraine with a drive entitled “Helping Ukraine.”
It is unlikely anyone ever expected this year’s Lent would be accompanied by the unimaginable and real suffering of our brothers and sisters across our eastern border. Our friars living and serving in Ukraine find themselves facing completely new challenges. Yet, despite the ongoing war, all of our friaries in Ukraine are actively helping the local population as well as providing shelter to refugees arriving from other parts of the country.
The Conventual Franciscans in Ukraine are offering both humanitarian aid and emergency accommodations at their friaries. They are preparing aid packages, hearing confessions and carrying out pastoral ministry. The friars are mindful of Jesus’ exhortation: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). Therefore, the friars have geared all their activities toward helping and encouraging those in special need.
To date, the Brother Sun Foundation has raised a considerable sum of money. With these funds, they have purchased power generators for two of the friaries in Ukraine which are subject to constant power outages. The generators provide heating to the rooms of the refugees who stay overnight. In addition, the Foundation bought ten cots and other necessary items for a group of refugees being housed at the friary in Bilshivtsi. Important medical equipment was obtained for the friary in Mackivci. The Foundation also bought each friary a first aid kit, in case of bombing, fire extinguishers, fire blankets, walkie-talkies and radios. All of this was made possible by the generous support of individual donors, together with financial aid from various friaries in the Province of Cracow.
The Foundation also started a drive for material goods. In the first two weeks of March, 2022, the Conventual Franciscan seminary in Cracow collected donations of material goods. Various friaries in the Province of Cracow did the same, as did friaries abroad, particularly those in Germany and Italy. All these material goods were regularly sent to the Provincial Custody of the Holy Cross in Ukraine.
There is no telling what will happen in the next few days. Currently, the friary in Kremenchuk has the greatest need, because it has problems accessing hot water. The friars serving there also find they are in a bad location for receiving humanitarian aid. Shipments of food and aid rarely get through due to bridges being destroyed and cities under bombardment. Funds are being raised to help the friary modernize its heating system. The Foundation is always ready to provide whatever help our confreres need. There have been plenty of requests for aid. The situation In Ukraine is ever-changing and no one knows how the war will unfold from day to day.
We thank all those who have helped and can still help in this cause. May God reward you!
Additional information [Polish language only] is available on the website of the Conventual Franciscan Brother Sun Foundation (www.bratslonce.pl) and on the Foundation’s Facebook fan page.
Brother Sun Foundation Team