Will you help bring the children and families trapped in war-torn Ukraine out of darkness and shine the light of hope?
Rockets and missiles still rain down on cities and towns far from the fighting. Children and families caught up in the fighting are living through tragic circumstances amid carnage and destruction.
Do you feel the panic of families with their children trying to escape the horror of this war by fleeing to safer areas far from the fighting?
Franciscan Missionaries in Ukraine
Our Franciscan missionaries in Ukraine have been witnessing this brutal war unfold from the beginning. Our Franciscan Province of St. Michael the Archangel has 16 friaries throughout Ukraine. There are 65 friars serving 54 parishes. Some are in areas that have fallen under the control of the Russian Army.
The friars are hosting refugees who are seeking food and protection. Our friars hear and feel explosions often. Recently, Father Konstanty Krywakowski OFM, the secretary of our Ukrainian Province, told me that an empty school bus was hit by a missile and destroyed one night about 300 yards from our friary in Zhytomyr.
This town, about 140 kilometers east of Kyiv, has asked our friars to spend money and prepare the basement of their 300-year-old friary to be a bomb shelter for the town’s people. Many refugees from Russian-controlled areas or those living near the fighting seek refuge in this area.
This Brave Family
Fr. Konstanty told me a story of a small family that fled a Russian-controlled area by the Black Sea near the city of Mariupol. This brave family consisted of a young mother and father and a young son who was blind in one eye. They were terrified when they had to pass through a checkpoint manned by Russian-paid mercenaries.
The mercenaries check the phones of everyone passing the checkpoint for any pro-Ukrainian information. If they find any Ukrainian information, people are not allowed to pass or may even be shot.
The parents knew they had cleansed their phones of any Ukrainian information but forgot to check their son’s phone. They began to pray to themselves as they stood in the checkpoint line and, almost miraculously, the mercenaries did not check the boy’s phone.
Each family member was allowed to carry only one suitcase through the checkpoint, and they had to pay a bribe of about $500 per person to be allowed to pass. Anything left behind in their homes was stolen by the Russians.
The family made it through and traveled to the city of Zhytomyr seeking safe refuge. The friars helped them find shelter and provided the visually impaired child with a used tablet so he could do his homework for the online school.
This family and about 180 others receive a box of food from our friars in Zhytomyr twice a week. Each box will feed a family for 3 to 4 days and only costs about $20.
Fr. Konstanty also reported that our friars closer to the fighting make dangerous trips to provide civilians with much needed food, water, and medical supplies. These families live in despair amid the fighting, and our friars are the ones who offer them hope and bring a little light into their lives.
It is my prayer that you will support our Franciscan missionaries in Ukraine as they serve the refugees who are trying to survive this tragic war. The brave friars will stay and continue to serve the civilians and the Church in this war zone. Will you stand with them in their time of need?
Your prayers and financial support will keep the light of our faith alive in the hearts of the innocent who are experiencing the darkness and horror of this war.
We Franciscan friars always remember you in our prayers with deepest gratitude. God bless you.
Brother Andrew Brophy, OFM
P.S. Please send a generous gift today to help our Franciscan missionaries provide lifesaving water, food, and medicine to innocent people who are trying to survive the tragic war in Ukraine. You can help shine the light of hope and our faith on children and families.