Franciscans in War-Torn Ukraine
A few days after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, no one can remain indifferent. People are dying every day and the country we live in is falling into ruin before our eyes.
On the first day of the invasion by Russian troops, we read Psalm 80 during Midday Prayer. The psalm speaks about the vineyard that the Lord God had planted. We too have asked God: “Why have you broken down its walls? … God of hosts, turn again, look down from heaven and see! Visit this vineyard.” We firmly believe that this difficult experience will strengthen us and bring us closer to God.
The war is taking place on several fronts. Aggression and hatred are very evident. Several hundred thousand people have fled their homes and the war. Thousands of mothers and their children are camped in railway stations and at border crossings with the rest of Europe.
The country is mobilized and enthusiastic. We will win and defeat the enemy. However, this does not relieve our fear. Misinformation is wreaking havoc. From time to time we see false alarms and false information.
The Custody has five friaries. Two are located east of the Dnieper River, in Kremenchuk and Boryspil. The other three are in the west, in Lviv, Bilshivtsi and Mackivci.
The friars are trying to live life normally. We celebrate Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. At the friary in Mackivci we conduct Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at night. At all of friaries, the friars recite the Rosary together.
At the friaries in the western part of the country, the friars are taking in those fleeing from the war. In the east, they are assisting the homeless and those needing food, hygienic care and medical attention.
In Boryspil, Friar Aleksander is working with parishioners to prepare food for the fighters. New guests continue to be taken in at the friaries in Bilshivtsi and Lviv.
One good initiative was carried out by Friar Kamil PAWLAK. He was able to connect ecumenical prayer communities with the friars of the Custody in Ukraine using the Zoom Internet platform.
We sincerely thank the Brother Sun Foundation (Fundacja Brat Słońce), which is organizing the purchase of generators for the friaries in Bilshivtsi and Mackivci and a central heating furnace for the friary in Lviv.
Friar Stanisław PĘKALA, Custodial Secretary