Panakhyda for the victims of the Russian invasion celebrated at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in New York

On June 11, the Panakhyda for the victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The Archdiocese of New York and the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia jointly organized this ecumenical memorial service. Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan; Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop-Metropolitan of Philadelphia, Borys Gudziak; Coptic Orthodox Bishop for the Diocese of New York and New England, David; Auxiliary Bishop of New York, Edmund Whalen; and Rev Protopresbyter Dr. Nicholas Kazarin, representing His Eminence Elpidophoros, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America prayed for peace and justice in Ukraine and repose of the victims of the Russian invasion together with Christians of different denominations and all people of goodwill.

Cardinal Dolan welcomed those who came to pray in Saint Patrick’s. “This is where God’s people assemble. Sometimes with smiles, sometimes with tears–as it is today, when we remember victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

The memorial service was sung by the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York under the direction of Vasyl Hrechynsky. Representatives of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim groups, as well as Ukrainian community leaders, united to pray together.

“We have come to accompany in prayer those who have died, both those who have given their lives, and the innocent who have had their lives taken from them,” noted Metropolitan Borys in his address. He added that the prayer is not a prayer of death, it is a prayer of life. “We sing the ‘Eternal Memory.’ Yes, with sorrow for the evil tragedy of the killing but also with great hope and trust”.

He stressed that people who in these days sacrifice their lives in Ukraine teach the rest of the world lessons about eternity. “We face death and loss together because we believe in life, and we have a deep faith in God’s desire for us to live, to live forever. When you do not fear death, when you know God’s grace, when you live under God’s blessing, when you know your dignity, you have started to live forever,” said the Archbishop.

The Ukrainian envoy to the United Nations, Serhiy Kyslytsia, in his brief remarks shared about the highest price Ukrainians are paying for their right to exist. “As we are gathered today, at this very moment, the front line of many hundreds miles of the Russia-Ukraine war remains an area of fierce fighting. They are fighting against a cruel enemy. An enemy that has come to kill, to destroy, to steal, and to humiliate. An enemy that makes no distinction between military and civilians. An enemy that does not consider itself to be bound by any norms or rules,” noted the Ambassador. He mentioned that the number of casualties among Ukrainian servicemen is horrendous. Every day around one hundred Ukrainian soldiers are killed in action and 500 wounded.

“During our short prayer between 10 and 20 people were killed or died of their injuries because of that brutal Russian invasion, and 60 others were maimed,” added Metropolitan Borys. He thanked Cardinal Dolan for his singular leadership and visit to Ukraine, American Catholic charity organizations for their aid to Ukrainians, and American Catholics who according to his rough estimate have contributed 100 million dollars to humanitarian aid to Ukraine. However, the Archbishop and the Ambassador mentioned that the struggle of the Ukrainian people continues, and the hard work is just beginning.

Photo album

 




Archeparchy of Philadelphia joined the “Ukrainian Days” advocacy event in DC

“Ukraine Washington Days” advocacy event held on June 9-10 was an opportunity to meet with Members of Congress and acquaint them with the concerns for increased security assistance for Ukraine, continued strong sanctions against Ukraine’s enemies, and support for humanitarian programs to aid Ukrainians afflicted by the war.

Metropolitan Borys Gudziak joined the event which started with a short prayer near the Holodomor memorial in DC. He asked to pray for the Ukrainian military who defend the innocent and the civilians who are killed in a genocidal intent. “Every day Ukrainians are giving their life for freedom and dignity,” said the Archbishop.

During the advocacy day Metropolitan has met Brand Ramsay, foreign policy expert for Senator Chris Coons, staff of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and representative of Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office.

While in DC, Metropolitan Borys held meetings with Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Wilton Gregory, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington Mario Eduardo Dorsonville, who heads the USCCB Committee on Migration, Migration and Refugee Services executive director Bill Canny and his collaborators, as well as with Sister Donna Markham, president of Catholic Charities USA and her associates.




Metropolitan Borys Participates in 4th All-American Youth Pilgrimage

The 4th All-American Youth Pilgrimage took place June 3-5 at the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin Parish in Parma, OH. Metropolitan Borys Gudziak, along with Bishop Bohdan Danylo of Parma and Bishop Pavlo Chomnytsky of Stamford, joined pilgrims from Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

For three days participants attended lectures presented by the three bishops. The following topics were covered: “Nationality: Gift or Punishment? Spiritual and Physical War”,  “Jesus in Jeans: What Can Young People Hope for?”, and “Healing of Deep Emotional Wounds.”

In his introductory speech to the pilgrims, titled “In Christ Is Our Hope, Protection, and Healing,” Metropolitan Borys focused on encounters and relationships because it is through these things that people are likened to God. “We are created in the image and likeness of God, and God is the Three Persons who are in constant perfect communication. Therefore, the human person is defined by the ability and need to communicate – we feel good when our relationships are good, and when there are quarrels and conflicts we suffer,” he said. The Metropolitan added that pilgrims came to this encounter to strengthen and enrich their communication with God and others.

He then discussed historical and modern Ukrainian traumas. “Even if we do not fully understand our history, it puts pressure on us. It has been forbidden to talk about our traumas for generations. The system killed, and therefore a protective mechanism was created which affected the relationship and the trust between people. There was an acquired fear of another who could be dangerous.”

The Archbishop stressed that although the traumas of the past have not yet healed, Ukrainians do in fact move from fear to dignity – through the Revolution on Granite, the Orange Revolution, and the Revolution of Dignity. “Step by step, generation by generation, they want to leave this fear in the past and demand recognition of their God-given dignity. Even during the war, we hear from people about faith and dignity. We have not heard any complaints from people I have met recently in Ukraine, but there is the confidence that they cannot give up,” he said.

In an address called, “Jesus in Jeans: What Can Young People Hope for?”, Metropolitan Borys spoke about how to be a Christian in today’s culture. “Popular culture sometimes presents Christians as aliens. However, let us remember that the Church has always been embodied in culture and transformed that culture. We Christians do preserve ancient traditions, but there is a difference between tradition and traditionalism. Tradition is always alive. Wisdom emerges when we accept and value tradition, but do not instill it artificially.”

He spoke about identity which is particularly important for young people. “It is important to live truthfully and authentically as Patriarch Joseph the Blind called us to do. And who are we? We are beloved children of God – this is one of our basic identities. To be yourself is to be a beloved son or a beloved daughter. And we need to accept this love, then we will be able to live in God’s way, preach, serve, and give.”

 

After a brief presentation, there was a lengthy Q&A session with the pilgrims.




Feast of Pentecost at the cathedral parish in Philadelphia

On June 5, 2022, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia, Borys Gudziak, celebrated a solemn Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. On this Sunday our Church observes the feast of the glorification of the Holy Spirit, and church interiors are decorated with green to symbolize the birth of new life–namely the birth of the Church.

It’s a beautiful feast of Pentecost. It’s a feast of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity. After the Ascension of Jesus, which we celebrated ten days ago, the Church celebrates the sending of the Holy Spirit. Thus completing the revelation of who God is. God is three persons in communion, union. The central tenet of our faith is we have a God in communion. I want to encourage you today to look on Google for the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit and to pray that they grow in your life,” said Archbishop Borys Gudziak.

This particular celebration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit was special because two parishioners of our Cathedral–Anna and Amelia–received First Confession and Solemn Holy Communion.

“Girls, this is a very important day in your life and your presence among us is a testimony. We see in you childlike purity, we see in you those children whom Jesus called to himself, and we pray that we may be like you: pure and that we may run to Jesus, that we may live in Christ,” noted the Archbishop.




Humanitarian Aid Fund Report as of May 31, 2022




Heartfelt Words from Non-Ukrainian Donors

Russia’s invasion and war-making have thrust Ukraine into the popular imagination in unprecedented ways. Millions and millions of people around the world, who would not otherwise have paid much attention at all to Ukraine, now closely follow news updates about the war and its victims. Major news sources now regularly mention cities and towns like Chernihiv, Mariupol, and Yavoriv which were once obscure to the average North American.

Archbishop Borys has played an important role in educating the public about the injustices and plight suffered by Ukraine. The Associated Press, CatholicPhilly, CNN, EWTN, and other media outlets have brought his voice to new audiences. Members of these new audiences are neither Ukrainian Catholic nor part of the Ukrainian diaspora. Yet they have given generously to the Archepachy of Philadelphia’s Humanitarian Aid Fund, which has raised more than $5,000,000 to date.

Many of the Humanitarian Aid Fund’s donors are Roman Catholic while others are Jewish, Protestant, or have no reported religious affiliation. A number took time to compose letters and notes to enclose with their checks, and these contain some of the most heartfelt words in support of Ukraine. Amid violence and death, sadness and mourning, their messages demonstrate that Ukrainians are not alone. The war has galvanized people of good will who are committed to assisting through prayer, awareness, and financial support.

May God bless our the Humanitarian Aid Fund’s benefactors and suffering Ukrainian in great need!

The following excerpts provide a sense of the beautiful sentiments held by non-Ukrainian donors to the Humanitarian Aid Fund.

I am a first generation Polish American and am proud of Poland’s support for the Ukrainian citizens. My daughter is a close friend of a first generation Ukrainian American. That friend’s worries have become our worries. We have been watching the news of Putin’s scourge, and are helpless to aid, but for this donation and our prayers. With love and a hope for peace…

—Theresa of California

Please be assured of my prayers in regard to the people and the nation of Ukraine. The firm stand of Ukrainian Catholics against Communism has been glorifying Almighty God for many decades. May Our Lady of Hrushiv continue to support you. In Jesus and Mary…

—Helen of Pennsylvania

It is with much sadness that I enclosed the check for the poor people of Ukraine. I pray my rosary and at Mass that last[ing] peace may come quickly for them. Thank you for your leadership and your staff. God bless you and the people of Ukraine.

—Gerald of South Philadelphia

Gory to Ukraine. Ukrainians have always been to Wildwood Crest for vacation. We on the island support you. Wildwood’s huge Ferris Wheel has been lit in the colors of Ukraine. The boardwalk also has a huge neon sign in the colors [blue and yellow] with a caption “Pray for Ukraine. We will pray…

—Tom of Wildwood Crest, NJ

I am so stressed, saddened, and worried about the people of Ukraine. I have kept them in my prayers and continue to admire their bravery. I will continue to pray for them, and I have enclosed a donation to help with their plight. I wish we could do more. My great grandparents left Poland in the early 1900s when Russia controlled Poland, I feel a connection to the Ukrainian people. May God and his mother Mary comfort and protect them.

—Dorothy of Pennsylvania




New Assignments in the Archeparchy of Philadelphia

On June 1st, Metropolitan Borys Gudziak announced the transfers, assignments, and appointments that are about to occur in the Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Two priests are retiring, and several others are getting new appointments and tasks within the Archeparchy.

“All of the following changes are a result of months of careful consideration and deliberation by the Eparchial Consultors whom I thank for their pastoral insight and patience throughout this process. The decisions at which we arrived were guided by one fundamental principle – the welfare of our archeparchy and our parishes, and the wellbeing of our priests and parishioners,” noted Metropolitan Borys.

The Metropolitan expressed his gratitude to Bishops Andriy and all priests for their exceptional response to the proposed changes. “In a special way, I would like to thank Very Rev. John Seniw and Rev. Volodymyr Baran for their years of dedicated service. We are all grateful for their willingness to continue helping the Archeparchy”.

***

May 31, 2022

Rev. Volodymyr Baran retires.

June 1, 2022

Very Rev. John Seniw appointed Temporary Administrator of St. Vladimir Church in Palmerton, PA.

Rev. D. George Worschak appointed Temporary Liturgical Minister for St. Vladimir Church in Palmerton, PA.

Rev. Roman Oliynyk appointed Pastor of Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in McAdoo, PA and Administrator St. Michael Church in Hazleton, PA.

Rev. Andriy Chornopyskyi appointed Parochial Vicar of the Ukrainian Catholic Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington, DC and SS. Joachim and Anna Church in Front Royal, VA.

June 15, 2022

Rev. Ostap Mykytchyn appointed Parochial Vicar of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Jenkintown, PA.

July 1, 2022

Rev. Volodymyr Kostyuk appointed Administrator of St. Nicholas Church in Great Meadows, NJ and Administrator of St. Paul Church in Ramsey, NJ.

Rev. Paul Makar appointed Pastor of St. Josaphat Church in Bethlehem, PA and continues as Administrator of Holy Ghost Church in West Easton, PA.

Rev. Yaroslav Lukavenko appointed Parochial Vicar at Holy Ghost Church in West Easton, PA.

July 31, 2022

Very Rev. John Seniw retires.

August 1, 2022

Most Rev. Andriy Rabiy appointed Administrator of Transfiguration Church in Shamokin, PA and Administrator of Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church Marion Heights, PA.

Rev. Vasil Bunik appointed Pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Northampton, PA and Administrator of St. Vladimir Church in Palmerton, PA.

Very Rev. Mykola Ivanov appointed Pastor of St. Ann Church in Warrington, PA and Administrator of Presentation of the Lord Church in Lansdale, PA. He is relieved of his duties as Protopresbyter of the South Anthracite Protopresbyterate but remains Judicial Vicar.

Rev. Wasyl Kharuk appointed Pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Jenkintown, PA.

Very Rev. Mark Fesniak appointed Protopresbyter of the South Anthracite Protopresbyterate.

Rev. Ihor Royik appointed Protopresbyter of the Lehigh – Schuylkill Valley Protopresbyterate.




Sister Teodora Kopyn: The Way of the Cross in the footsteps of the Ukrainian people

My mission trip to Ukraine began in Mukachevo on April 16, 2022 as I boarded a free train to eastern Ukraine, stopping at Lviv, Kharkiv, Poltava, and Lozova. I felt relatively safe because my uncle was the train’s conductor.  He had been, from the war’s beginning, bringing refugees from the dangerous eastern part of the country to the west.  He said that on one of his first trips very close to the Russian border, not only the train shook from the bombing, but his feet could feel the entire earth under him moving!  Also, his stop in Kharkiv on the Monday after Easter was terrifying because a low-flying plane right above him was bombing, and the bombs hit somewhere close.  Because no one knew exactly where, all began to run and scatter – some running OFF the train, and others hiding in corners in the train station. It was dangerous and frightening!

On the first day of my trip, because of lack of time and because stores were closed, I had very little to give.  I found in one open store 5 packages of colored pencils which I cut in half.  These, in addition to the pictures which I printed, brought joy to so many children on the train!  At least for a short while, they were able to forget what they were going through. So many times during my train rides, children would run to me to beg me for anything I could give them so that they could more easily pass the time…

Each time we went through villages in eastern Ukraine, we were met with an eerie silence and TOTAL darkness, because lights were forbidden. On the day before we arrived in Kharkiv, (as well as the after we left), the city was bombed. 

Lozova, our last stop on the way to Eastern Ukraine, was the most dangerous, and instead of our planned 10 hours there, we had to leave after only 8.  In both of these cities, we actually saw and heard the extremely close explosions…

On the way back, our train stopped again in Kharkiv, this time to pick up refugees. They were crying, and unable to be comforted.   Then as the train began to move after 2 hours, I could hear a combined loud sigh of relief.  

In Poltava, I saw one woman at the train station holding two small children, crying “I want to go home – why must we run away? – where are we going?” Her husband tried to comfort her, but no words would help.  It was so heartbreaking to see!

On the train were many families with children.  They told me, “We cannot stay in Kharkiv anymore. Our houses are ruined, and it’s too dangerous to stay there.  We don’t know where we are going or what will happen to us.”  

One woman told me that all have left her city except government workers, and so she had to stay.  But she was taking her 16-year-old daughter to safety in the west and then would return.  Her heart was broken, as Kharkiv was becoming more dangerous for her family there each day.  As I left her, she told me that she had just told her husband that seeing the religious Sister on the train had brought her peace and relief…   I keep remembering how, as her husband bid them farewell in Kharkiv, all were crying, not knowing if they would ever be united safely again…

There were so many more people I met who wanted to share their stories with me… So many told me that their apartment buildings had been bombed, but that they were so grateful to have made it out alive!

One family said that having the military all over their city was frightening, but not as frightening as the constant sound of sirens!

Those who were fleeing only carried small bags with themselves. They were saying how hard it was to leave their homes and were so hoping to come back as soon as possible. One man said, “I cannot leave my dear Ukraine!  I was born here! My children were born here! I’ve spent my entire life here! One day I WILL return!”

Most people could not tell their entire stories, but I could see so much pain in their eyes.  When I could not comfort them, I felt so helpless ….   Their pain will last their entire lifetimes, and it was unbelievably caused by those without any sense of human compassion.

As I was walking through the train, I met one family with 5 children.  There was a 5-year-old girl named Bohdana who was drawing. When I asked her what she was doing, she said, “I am painting a devil.  I want him to go away.”  I said, “Would you like to draw an angel?” As soon as I showed her a picture of an angel, she quickly drew many angels and promised me, “I will never draw a devil again.”  But then she went on – “I don’t like Putin.  If he comes here, I will tell him to get out!”  The next day when I visited her again, she told me that she wanted to give her painting of an angel to someone who looked like an angel.  Then, as for so many there, after a short period of unexpected joy, the cloud of darkness settles in…   So, after a few minutes of quiet, she said “My grandmother was crying all night.” 

And they kept coming to tell me their stories…. One woman was fleeing from Kharkiv with her husband. Her children had already been sent to western Ukraine.  But she, like all the others, had taken nothing with herself.  She could not even afford to buy an empty cup. When I tried to give her money to buy tea, she refused, saying “I don’t want to take your money.”  But I told her that this was war, and that she MUST accept help from strangers now.  She hugged me and assured me that she would now be okay. But my uncle came to tell me soon thereafter that he had just seen that woman alone in a secluded part of the train – sobbing uncontrollably.

My trip lasted an entire night and day. One little girl came to me and wanted to share something with me. She said, “Every day I kneel and pray: Please, God, keep my mother and father and sisters safe!”  

At one point I asked my uncle if I could buy from him some tea and crackers to give to the refugees. When we gave crackers to an elderly man, he kept repeating, “For ME?  For me?  For free?” It was so heartbreaking to see so many suffering people who had just lost their homes and everything they had, and yet they were SO appreciative now – for even small things!  

My uncle had told me that the earlier trips were much harder – the train was PACKED with people who had to STAND the entire time, some in total shock, but most of them simply crying throughout the entire trip. They were all hungry, and whatever food my uncle had was given out in one hour!   He had to call his boss who then arranged for the volunteers at the next train station to give him more food, but it was never enough… As the people left the train at the end of their journey, so many people, filled with gratitude, hugged and kissed my uncle.  They were so relieved that he had gotten them to a safer place…

At the end of the trip the children especially were happy to get off the train.  They felt safe, even though they didn’t know where they were going. One very small boy said, “I’ll help you, Mom – I’m strong enough – don’t worry!”  It warmed my heart to see how children cared for their parents, and of course it was evident how parents cared for their children…

This trip had been an extremely long one because as we approached Lviv, we heard that the train station there had just been bombed.  The delay was long and made everyone feel even more anxious.

I cannot put into words how heartbreaking it was to see such sadness everywhere – people crying with no words to express, or desire to express how they felt – people who had until recently lived normal and happy lives but who had suddenly witnessed their homes completely destroyed.  They had to leave not only all their possessions behind, but elderly relatives and friends.  Life as they knew it would never be the same.  

As they were running away, most did not know their final destination.  All they knew was that they must seek a safer place.  I had to witness fathers and husbands at train stations having to bid goodbye to their wives and children, not knowing if they would ever see one another again.  It was so difficult to watch and to hear… On a brighter note, I met so many kind volunteers at the train stations.  But unfortunately, by the time I met them, they had run out of food and all other necessary supplies! They said that it was especially hard for them to tell the children who were asking for water and fruit that they just didn’t have any. They told me that they needed EVERYTHING!

The next day I started my trip to Zaporizhzhia with Ivan, the driver of a small van.  He wanted to help me get there and back safely. We first visited Drohobych where there was an organization which was helping ALL refugees in need.  Because it was a few days before Easter, they gave us all kinds of Easter foods for those in Zaporizhzhia  . 

There was a priest in our van who was returning to help his parishioners after he had just taken his family to a safer area in western Ukraine.  He said that it was so hard for him to leave them because they, like so many others, were unsure of what would become of them…. And would they ever be reunited?  I had already met SO many people who had first fled to the west but were now returning to the dangerous east to serve those in need.  Their hearts were so filled with love for their homeland that they could not stand to be away…

During our trip, our driver suddenly said, “Now we’ll pray the rosary.”  To see a grown man with a rosary in his hand and to hear him praying not just words, but words filled with emotion and hope showed me how powerful a weapon prayer is…   This gave me (as well as my driver) solace and hope. 

When we reached the city of Zaporizhzhia, it was early morning.  Our Sister Lukia met me and she was in tears – she was thrilled that I had come from so far to visit them.  The Sisters there were caring for refugees, helping out at the hospital, and especially helping the military who came to them for help.  They were working so hard to help anyone and everyone in need!

Sister Lukia was telling me that the Russian troops were now only 40 km. away.  When the war first began, most of the people had fled, and so Zaporizhzhia  had become a “ghost town”.   But now people were beginning to return.  But it still remains unsafe because of frequent bombing. I myself heard the sirens there many times…

On our way back, we met a woman named Natalia who was fleeing from her village of Irpin which had been totally destroyed by the Russians.  She said that she had just left her apartment to do some quick shopping.  When she returned, she found that her entire building was gone!  She tried to run to two other family buildings, but found that these had also been destroyed. She was now on her way to Lviv where hopefully she would meet a volunteer who would help her.  She had absolutely nothing with herself except two small bags and was telling me that it was a miracle that she had not been in her building when it was bombed.  She was crying, but humbly said, “I don’t need anything – just a small room to go to, so that I can be safe.”  

One stop on the way was the city of Kamiansk where one church, open to the public, served 200 families each day.  The priest there said that all who came were in need of food and housing – not clothing.  But unfortunately they were quickly running out of food.

We picked up refugees who were most in need and took them either to Lviv or to the Polish border. But when we came to one rest stop, the sirens sounded and the driver said, “We must leave quickly!”  Everyone was terrified, but it was especially difficult to see the children so afraid, not knowing what would happen to them.  The sound of sirens made everyone live in fear every moment…

When we finally arrived in Lviv, I met Natalia once again. She was standing in the bus station, not knowing where to go. I said, “Come with me,” even though no one was allowed on the streets yet.  But I took her inside the station and found a volunteer who was so kind and told me, “Don’t worry, we will help her.”  When I gave her money, she, not looking at it, simply said, “Thank you.”  Later she returned to me, hugging and kissing me, saying, “You gave me so much!!!”  She was SO appreciative!!! She said, “This will help me A LOT!!”  

The train trip from Lviv to Mukachevo was extremely long.  The delays were due to the several sirens that were sounding in Lviv. When I finally arrived late in Mukachevo, there were MANY people.  But when the sirens sounded, they all fled.  I was standing there alone.

It seemed so unfair – especially for the children – to have to live in constant fear in this century.  The sounds of sirens still frighten me in the middle of the night – until I realize that I am in America!!

On the Tuesday after Easter, I visited an organization in Mukachevo which was caring for 100 people, including 37 children who had fled from Bucha and other decimated cities. There I met one woman who had fled from Bucha with her two tiny children and her friend’s small child.  There was also an elderly couple who had been in their apartment when it was bombed. Volunteers got them out.  The man was paralyzed and could not speak.  The woman was out of breath as she told me her story.  As she spoke, the man listened intently, and then kissed my hand – so grateful for someone to listen and to care.

The next day I visited our Sisters in Lviv who were caring for refugees and really helping so many people.  Our Sisters in Beryhy had 30 refugees in their home, and our convent in Yavoriv was also housing approximately 30! Our Sisters in Perechyn also were housing refugees.  ALL of our dear Sisters in every region of Ukraine are continually helping refugees in all parts of Ukraine.  May God bless them all!

When in Mukachevo, it came to my attention that the volunteers there were all out of food and medicine.  This was the first stop for refugees from the east as they approached Europe’s borders.  So, the next day my brother and I went to the bazaar where we purchased fresh fruit, as well as crackers and cookies.  The children literally RAN to the table where they were put and were thrilled to be able to have fresh fruit, such as apples and bananas!! It was heartwarming to see their happy faces (especially when they saw some lollipops I had purchased)!

As my mission trip was coming to an end, I met with my brother’s parishioners at church. All shared their sad stories with me.  One woman with two sons in the military asked for prayers – for them and for herself, because she couldn’t sleep at night, filled as she was with worry about them.

Daily there is news for these people of their loved ones who have either been killed or wounded.  It must be terrifying to wait for such news!  And how can I comfort the young woman who just found out that her husband was just killed and who kept sobbing, “I can’t believe it! I want him back! I want to build my future with him!” Or what can I say to another young pregnant woman with a small child who just received the same news? 

I suddenly received a call from a family friend – a soldier from Moldova stationed near Belarus.  He shared with me how badly those in his battalion were suffering. As they were trying to dig trenches, the nonstop rain prevented them from doing this.  He asked me to send him heavy plastic with which to line the trenches, as well as other items.  When I told him that these items were expensive, he said, “We can do without food – and clothing we do not need.  But things such as sleeping bags and tents are so necessary because we need to protect ourselves and to survive.  When we first arrived here, we had none of these, and we need them badly…”

He then went on to say that they have many soldiers from western Ukraine there, and that on that very same day their main headquarters in Lviv was bombed by the Russians.  So many soldiers died.  But that particular group somehow, miraculously, was not present when it happened.  They had been saved…

During my travels throughout Ukraine during this mission trip, I saw so much beauty still left – fields full of flowers blowing in the wind, and people tending to their gardens and trying to keep their tiny villages neat and clean. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to destroy this beauty, and my heart breaks daily as I hear how the enemy continues to persecute my beloved people and their land. 

I soon left Mukachevo, and bade goodbye to my mother in the Czech Republic before I boarded a plane back to the U.S.  My mission trip had ended.

Here in America, as I work with homeless people, I feel their pain.  I understand how hard it is for them not to have housing or food. But their pain is totally different from the pain felt by the people in Ukraine. Ukrainians must flee suddenly from their homes without ANYTHING, and the most terrifying part is that they are not sure if they will even HAVE a future. The entire country is constantly in fear and in tears.  

Please, dear Lord, bring a speedy end to this unjust war, and let my people live in peace!

 




Rev. Volodymyr Radko celebrated the Liturgy in Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia

On Sunday, May 8th, newly ordained priest of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia, Rev. Volodymyr Radko, celebrated his First Mass of thanksgiving in Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. Ordained almost three months ago in Ukraine, Fr. Volodymyr is a graduate of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, which is the diocesan seminary of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The Liturgy in the Byzantine-Ukrainian rite in Roman Catholic basilica was also an occasion to pray for peace in Ukraine.

“In the Roman Church, as many of you know, today, the 4th Sunday of Easter, is also called Good Shepperd Sunday. This is a day when we pray for numerous vocations to the priesthood and certainly our prayers are enhanced as we are able to be joined by a newly ordained priest, Volodymyr. We pray for him, for the seminarians who are with us, and for many more vocations to the priesthood. We have a confidence that the Good Shepard, Who loves his flock, will listen to our prayers”, noted the rector of the cathedral Rev Gerald Dennis Gill in his sermon.

In the words of Fr. Gill, the Liturgy was an occasion of thanking God for the communion between Roman Catholics and Ukrainian Catholics who can freely, beautifully, and richly express their faith. “As we celebrate joyfully, we are all mindful of Ukraine. Unlike any other war, probably because of technology, we are able to observe the war in Ukraine day-by-day and be caught up by the terrific horrors that had been inflicted upon Ukraine. We pray for peace, for the end of the terror of war in Ukraine, and we pray for peace in our hearts”, Fr. Gill emphasized.

At the end of the Liturgy, Fr. Volodymyr expressed his gratitude to the cathedral parish, Fr.   Gill, and Fr. Matthew Biedrzycki, Parochial Vicar, as well as Archbishop of Philadelphia, Nelson Pérez, and the Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, Borys Gudziak, who ordained him in Ukraine. He thanked his formers classmates from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary who accompanied the Liturgy with singing.

 “Thank you for keeping all the displaced, besieged, and suffering people of Ukraine in your prayers”, said Fr. Volodymyr. After the Liturgy, he individually blessed each person who attended the service.




Archbishop Borys Gudziak CNN interview. April 23, 2022