The Superior General of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Fr. Luis Ignacio Rois Alonso, visited the Delegation of Ukraine from the 3rd to the 9th of December 2022.
Accompanied by the Provincial of Poland, Fr. Paweł ZAJĄC, and the superior of the Ukraine Delegation, Fr. Vitaly Podolyana, he visited many Oblate communities and parishes in Ukraine. In each Oblate community he participated in the Eucharist, listened to the Oblates in fraternal meetings, and expressed his fullest support in this difficult situation, where people undergo immense pain and suffering.
A more significant visit among them all was to Chernihiv, a city that withstood a siege of almost 6 weeks. Acccmpanied by Fr. Petro Vrublevsky, Fr, Chicho had the opportunity to see with his own eyes the destruction caused by shelling and battles with the aggressor. The Oblates remained in the city despite the continuous shelling, and their monastery became a place of refuge for the local population. In the underground, they ate together, slept, prayed, and celebrated the Eucharist together. During the community meeting, the Superior General took time to listen to the testimony of the missionaries. He also visited Chernihiv parishioners who shared with him their dreadful memories.
Among other visits, Fr. Chicho met the Oblates who serve in the parish of St. Nicholas in Kyiv and participated in the Holy Eucharist on the feast of St. Nicholas. Despite the bomb alerts, many parishioners came to the church to thank God for His protection and to express gratitude to the Oblate missionaries for their uninterrupted presence during the Russian aggression.
In his address to the faithful, Father General said:
“I am proud of the work of my Oblate confreres in Ukraine, that they stayed with the people in such difficult times, that they are with you and close to you. When I was elected Superior General of our Congregation, flying from the Western Sahara to the General Chapter since I was not a participant in the Chapter, I immediately wanted to visit my fellow Oblates in Ukraine and their places of ministry in a country afflicted by the wounds of war.“
In their thanks, one of the parishioners said the following:
“We are grateful to the Polish Province for constantly sending missionaries to Ukraine and to our parish, where work is very difficult because the church has not yet been returned [to the Catholics] by the Ukrainian government. We ask you to continue to remember us, that people in Ukraine need God, they need Oblate missionaries.“
The liturgy was broadcast both on the Catholic television channel EWTN Ukraine, which is run by the Missionary Oblates, and the local radio station Radio Maryj
On the day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, Fr. Chicho was with the community in Tyvri, where the Eucharist was presided over by the Oblate Bishop, Radoslav Zmitrovich.
During his visit, the Superior General took time to meet with the displaced from different regions. He also did not forget to speak over the phone with some fellow Oblates from the occupied territories, as there was no possibility of visiting them.
The Oblate missionaries in Ukraine were full of appreciation for the new leader of the Congregation for choosing the Ukraine as the place of his first pastoral visit,and expressing solidarity with the suffering people of Ukraine.