Multiple Sources Compiled by Mike Viola and Will Shaw
The world has been stunned by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and of the courage and determination of the Ukrainian people. The Missionary Oblates have many missionaries in the country who have been doing their best to provide comfort to the people in the midst of war.
Below are three stories and videos which have been posted over the past several days. These first-hand accounts are a testament to the faith and devotion of these men under the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances.
Ukrainian Oblates give shelter to people in their houses.
As is known, on February 24, the army of the Russian Federation began its invasion of Ukraine. In this country there are about 30 Oblates in 9 houses, in addition to the community in Crimea and another in the Russian Caucasus.
One of the places most affected by the war has been the city of Chernihiv, where we have an Oblate house. Located on the border with Russia and Belarus, the city of Chernihiv has been overrun by enemy forces since the beginning of the invasion by the Russian Federation. On March 1, it began to be shelled with “Grad” rockets, and it seems that Russian troops were joined by Belarusian troops. Father Piotr Wróblewski, OMI, noted that the first shelling ended around noon: “So far, everything is going well. We have everything, even Internet and coffee. The night was quiet, everyone slept well. We hope that the day will also be quiet”, wrote the missionary this morning.
In the basements of the Oblate house, daily life goes on, despite the danger heard overhead.
Since the beginning of the invasion, the crypt of the church has served as a bomb shelter, where about 40 people, sometimes more, come to spend the night. In addition, another 20-30 people live permanently in the basement of the Oblates’ house, to shelter from the constant shelling. They are mostly young mothers with children who are looking for a safe place for their children, and to be able to help each other, as there are now problems with the supply of food and other basic necessities, and there are long lines.
The superior of the community, Father Piotr Wróblewski, has shared this video showing the situation.
Here is the transcript of the video:
“Praise the Lord, greetings to everyone!
[Father Piotr then explains to the children that he is recording a video].
We are in the basement of the [Oblate] house. Here we live, here we eat, here we cook upstairs, here we pray, here we had Mass yesterday [Sunday, February 28]….
We greet everyone heartily, we promise our prayers, and we also ask you above all to pray for us……
We also have some men who have taken charge of the situation, so that everything is under control. As you see, we are holding up well. We pray a lot and, again, we greet you and ask for your prayers.”
Other Oblate communities in Ukraine are also taking in refugees who have lost their homes or are heading for the border, for example, the Tyvriv community.
Oblates, Always Close to the People
Ukraine Oblates Story # 2
Fr. Pavlo Vyshkovskyi, OMI is the former Delegation Superior of the Ukraine. At present he is the pastor of the Oblate parish of St. Nicholas in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. Here are some extracts of the posts he shared on his personal Facebook page, encouraging his parishoners, on February 26, 2022.
“When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away… But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.”
(Lk 21,9. 18-19)
Beloved brothers and sisters,
In such difficult moments of life, the support for us is the Word of God and prayer! We know from history that when all diplomatic and negotiating means fail, only prayer can save the world from destruction! Only prayer can save Ukraine! Our soldiers need our prayer to protect our land, our government needs prayer for God to give it wisdom, our enemies need prayer to come to their senses, and we need prayer so that fear does not overwhelm us and our hearts are filled with peace.
Therefore, from today we all need to intensify prayer. Missionary Oblates of Immaculate working in the parish of St. Nicholas will be in prayer throughout the day. We are waiting with Jesus for everyone who experiences fear, loneliness, danger or needs support, help and comfort.
Remember, only with God is it always safe!
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 7).
The whole world is praying for Ukraine. During the day, many people called us, assuring us that they were grieving, crying and praying with us. Calls came from Italy, France, Poland, Spain, America, and the Vatican.
“If God is for us, then who is against us? He who did not spare His Son, but betrayed Him for all of us, will He not give us everything together with Him? Who will accuse God’s elect? God is the One who justifies! ” (Romans 8, 31-32).
During this day, the greatest thing we pastors do and can do is contemplate Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist. We do it for Ukraine, for our people, for our parish, for each of you… Whatever happens – whether there is a connection or not – we are there all day for you! There is always an opportunity to give you the Holy Sacrament, which may be the best thing to receive in such a difficult time.
Many Ukrainians save themselves by fleeing to the West. They often take refuge in churches and monasteries. This is in the Oblate religious house in Chernihiv. Several dozen people took refuge in the monastery. Father Piotr Wróblewski OMI, a missionary from Poland, confirms that the Oblates are safe.
The city is still under attack. (Photo: www.oblaci.pl)
Statement From Fr. Vitalij Podolan OMI, Superior of Oblate Delegation in Ukraine
Ukraine Story # 3
“Over the past few days it has been necessary to hide many times from bombings, but the Oblates do not leave their houses and parishes, but stay in them, to accompany people, support them morally, spiritually and materially, and often allow them to shelter in the basements of our churches and houses.””In various circumstances of our everyday life, also during the celebration of the Eucharist, we hear sirens announcing possible bombing or flights of military planes, which is the cause of increased fear. The risk related to vigilance at their places of service is very high.”
“All the more, we express our sincere gratitude to everyone for every form of support, especially for intercession before the Lord. We believe that God can work a miracle and give us peace.” #PrayForUkraine