Peace and All Good!
In the early hours of the morning of Thursday, February 24, 2022, Russian troops invaded the Ukraine. For four days, Russian soldiers have been entering our country. From the south, they are entering from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which was annexed in 2014. From the east, they are entering from the Russian Federation and from the Donbass region, which was also annexed in 2014. From the north, they are entering from the Republic of Belarus. So far, there are no reports of Russian troops entering from the Republic of Transnistria, that is, from the part of Moldova annexed by the Russians in 1991. In addition to the fighting for cities in the east, north and south, strategic points in all Ukrainian cities are under attack.
Across the country, one serious problem has been people working for the invading army who are present in almost every major city. They are engaged in disinformation, marking strategic locations with fluorescent paint and informing enemy troops of the actions of local authorities. Many of them have been neutralized by the local security authorities. At the entrance to each city there are police, army and civil territorial defense stations. A general mobilization of men between 18 and 60 years of age has been announced in the country. Weapons are handed out to all available persons. In the cities, electric transport is still functioning, i.e. trains, trams and trolley buses. However, city and long-distance buses are no longer running due to a lack of fuel, which is reserved for medical services, the police and the army.
None of our five friaries are in a direct combat zone.
We have two friars in Kremenchuk who are visiting parishioners to administer the sacraments. They are also serving meals to the homeless from the friary. They stocked up on food for this purpose. Since the friary is a modern building, the friars have had to reinforce one room to use as an air-raid shelter by lining the walls with sandbags. Kremenchuk is a strategic city because it is located on the Dnieper River. There is a dam near the city as well as many important industrial plants.
The friary in Mackivci is located in a village away from the main road and is therefore the safest place in town. For this reason, the Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit together with their postulants have relocated to the friary. Currently, we have two refugee families from Kiev living on the friary premises. Since that friary is also a modern building, the friars have had to reinforce one room to use as an air-raid shelter by lining the walls with sandbags and concrete slabs. Many families in the parish, fearing war, have left for Poland and Romania. There is an airport near the village which was destroyed on the first day of the war.
One friar remains at the friary in Boryspil and his task is to defend our friary and the convent of the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit. The sisters have departed the city because fighting with the Russian army is underway in nearby Kiev, and there is a civil airport located close to the sisters’ convent. A military base next to the airport was destroyed on the first day of the war.
The friary in Bilshivtsi, located in a village in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, is a large building in a very safe location. Our elderly friars are living there now, having been relocated from the friaries in Kremenchuk and Boryspil prior to the war. The friary also houses some refugee families from Kiev. In the near future, the friars plan to buy a second electric generator, because the one they have now has only enough power to run the building’s heating system. The friary has food supplies to last for a long time.
Lviv is a large city and the capital of western Ukraine. The friary in Lviv is in the city center and has been a safe location. On the first day of the war, a parishioner who was called to arms got married in our church. In addition, the sacrament of baptism was administered to the son of another parishioner engaged in the defense of the city. Since the first day of the war, many of our parishioners, fearing for their lives and those of their children, have left for Poland. The friars and the faithful are involved in coordinating aid, transporting people to the national border and bringing humanitarian aid from the border to the city.
Friar Stanisław PĘKALA, Custodial Secretary