In the shadow of war


In the shadow of war


Saturday, 24 February, marked the second year of the war in Ukraine. We thank everyone, especially the Sisters, for praying, supporting and accompanying us and our citizens during this difficult time. We continue to remain in our four places in Ukraine and go about our daily duties - running our ministries and getting involved where we see a need.

Kolomyja is far from the front line and we do not experience direct warfare on a daily basis but we do experience the effects of war. We accompany our soldiers with prayer and their families in various ways. Life here is more calm, with rockets and drones arriving less frequently. There are usually alerts a couple of times a week because there is a threat of rocket attacks. Then we go down to our basement with the children from the common room. There we continue classes, play, eat meals.... This school year we still have one group because, on the one hand, a lot of families have gone abroad and, on the other hand, we can't accommodate more children in our basement. Recently, on 21 February, we celebrated Ukrainian Language Day. Before that, the children celebrated the feast of St Angela Merici with us.

In addition to running the day care centre, we continue to catechise and help in three parishes. Since January we have been joined by Sr Ira, a postulant who also works with children and helps with the liturgy for young people. Also, together with the priest, we visited our parishioners. S. Erika regularly leads a Lectio Divina prayer group - people feel a greater need to pray, deepen and share the Word of God. Every month meetings are held in our house for those interested.

In Ivano-Frankivsk we continue to be involved in parish ministry. We note with sadness that many young people have left for Poland - they come for holidays and return to schools in Poland. Their absence from the parish is felt. In spite of this, Sr Olena, who has been attending catechetical workshops in Grodek these days, is preparing a group of children for their First Holy Communion. Polish lessons are also taking place as normal. On Saturday 24 February, there was a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady in Bolshovice to pray for peace. It is very moving when soldiers come to the church and ask for prayer. Recently one of them came, bringing the body of a fallen colleague. When Sr Blandyna told him that they remembered them in prayer, he, a grown man in his 50s, hugged her like a child.

In Chernivtsi we are working with the knowledge that about 100 km away from us drones are falling and people are being killed, houses are being ruined... Many families also have loved ones among the fighting. They ask for prayers for them and especially for those with whom contact has broken off. Often, too, alarms sound and school children have to walk to the shelter. Catechesis is carried out as before - Sr Teresa catechises the children and the curate catechises the young people. Sister Tania, on the other hand, takes care of the decoration of the church and the sacristy.

The war is felt more in Kiev. Air attacks are more frequent. And we, in the shadow of the war, not only fulfil the duties we have undertaken, that is, we teach at the Catholic School "Nazareth", we run a small hostel for female students, we catechise in the parish, but we try to meet the needs of the people. For example, we organise a day of recollection for young people.

In all this, we entrust ourselves and our homeland to God's providence and pray daily for the gift of peace!

Ursuline Sisters of Ukraine