“He calls it the ‘Friary of the Last Suppers.’ Yes, it’s plural. Moreover, as Friar Mykola ORACH talks about it, his tone becomes somber. We are not in the Holy Land but in Ukraine, in downtown Lviv. ‘Within our walls we have seen and continue to attend the last suppers of so many people.’” This Conventual Franciscan friar is being quoted from an article published May 6, 2022, in Avvenire, a Catholic-inspired, Italian newspaper.
“‘Those fleeing the war stop here and stay with us,’ says Friar Mykola. ‘We have opened up our friary, which is next to St. Anthony’s Church. Whole families have been arriving, each comprised of a husband, a wife and their children. The husband, however, cannot leave the country, as decreed by the government. Therefore, he can only accompany his family to the border crossing with Poland, perhaps by car. Our friary is a place where families stop before crossing the border. They sleep here. They eat their last supper with us before they part ways. They look into each other’s eyes and caress each other’s hands. Every whisper and gaze contains the pain of an entire attacked people. It is unacceptable that this is happening.’”
The Conventual Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Cross in Ukraine are located in five different friaries spread across the country. Since the beginning of the war, they have established an active and effective network of solidarity, in constant collaboration with Assisi, to help and be with those who have chosen to stay in the country.
“‘The world believes that the war in Ukraine began in February of 2022, but for us, it has been going on since 2014,’ the friar explains further. ‘And since then, we have been transporting basic necessities here to be sorted, in an area that has been defined as a gray zone, at the crossroads between Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.’”
He reports in the article that the friary in Lviv “looks like a miniature Assisi. It serves as a reference point. It has also become an assistance center with a Franciscan character, empowered to deliver aid throughout the region.” The friars receive food, medicine and clothing and distribute these items to those in need. “Even Ukrainian soldiers have been knocking on the friary door.”
“The war will not end soon,” concludes Friar Mykola. “For a few months, we can rely on our internal resources. Then our needs will increase. And we have another concern. What’s that? That the West, after intense mobilization in recent weeks, is no longer as close to our people as it was. Therefore I say: ‘Do not forget us.’ There is an entire country to be saved today and to be rebuilt tomorrow.”
We are therefore all invited to support our confreres in Ukraine again. For more information and to support the projects of the friars in the country go to: www.sanfrancesco.org. You can also contribute by making a transfer to the bank account:
“Francesco d’Assisi, un uomo un fratello”
From: the Italian newspaper Avvenire