Ukraine – Our convents have become refugee centres

Sisters of Saint Joseph in Lviv

Millions of people have had to flee their homes to save themselves and their children, abandoning the regions of the east and south of Ukraine and heading west. According to recent figures by The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), almost four million people have crossed the borders into neighbouring countries, but over six and a half million are thought to be displaced within the country. 

A family welcomed by the congregation of St. Joseph in Lviv.

“There are people sleeping in every corner of the monastery, both in beds and on mattresses on the floor. They are very grateful for the opportunity to bathe, eat hot meals, and get some rest. Some had spent several days in basements or in air raid shelters,” says Sister Tobiasza, a nun from the Congregation of Saint Joseph, in a conversation with charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which has just approved a special aid package for nuns from all the Latin rite religious orders carrying out this charitable and hospitable work in the Archdiocese of Lviv.

“We help the refugees and locals who are in difficult situations due to the war,” Sister Tobiasza explains. The Sisters of Saint Joseph set up a transit point for refugees in their monastery in Lviv, where refugees can rest and recharge. The sisters also help establish contacts and search for families that can welcome refugees in other places, mainly in Poland. Finally, they coordinate the drivers to transport families, many of which are comprised of mothers and their children.

Whether big or small, each of the order’s houses or convents has been turned into a point of refuge for those most in need: “In another of our convents, in the city of Stryi, the sisters prepared a room to host a family of two children and a grandmother. With the help of local and foreign benefactors, they managed to buy a washing machine, a refrigerator, beds, etc.—all the basics to be able to live. One of the boys is sick and needs special care and food,” she explains.

Religious Sisters are participating in the solidarity effort all over Ukraine. Here in Lviv.

Since the ACN aid package will benefit all the nuns in the Archdiocese of Lviv, Sister Edita Duszczak, president of the Association of Women’s Latin Rite Catholic Congregations of Ukraine, wrote to the charity to say: “In the name of all the religious sisters of the Archdiocese of Lviv, I express my great gratitude for the help you have provided us until now; and therefore we dare to ask for support once again, to be able to serve and help in this difficult time of war in Ukraine which God has seen fit to allow us to live through.” 

Aid to the Church in Need has already approved an aid totaling more than 1.9 million dollars for the urgent needs in Ukraine and to support the local Church whose members have chosen to remain: missionaries from Brazil, Poland or elsewhere staying with the people and risking their own lives. Furthermore, many monasteries and convents, including monastic communities, have opened their doors to welcome refugees. Thank you for being there for them!

Thank you to continue to help those who are helping with all their heart! God bless you.

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