Ukraine – More
than a hundred thousand candles are burning in the darkness, in the silence of
the area outside the cathedral. Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk speaks to the believers,
and then the Archbishop of Olomouc Jan Graubner starts his preaching. Words
that inspire, words that invoke the mind. This is the first time a foreign
guest spoke to people in their native language at a national pilgrimage in
Zarvanica. Archbishop Jan Graubner also for the first time visited places where
the Archdiocesan Caritas Olomouc is helping. Orphanage for boys in
Bortnyky, canteen for poor children in Lopatyn, Charity Kolomyja and Ternopil.
The Archbishop and Charity’s trip lasted from 11 to 17 July.
This year’s national pilgrimage in Zarvanica was
dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the withdrawal of the Ukrainian
Greek-Catholic Church from illegality and also to prayer for peace in Ukraine.
On the way to this place of pilgrimage, Zarvanica seemed to be hiding from the
Charity team and Archbishop. On the back seat of the car there was a map, a
large map, so it could fit the wall. When the Charity team laid it out, Ukraine
spread across the whole width of the car. But Zarvanica was not marked here too.
It’s discovery was the great experience.
Archbishop Jan Graubner shared his impressions: “I was
extremely delighted by the strength and breadth of the local religious life.
The great pilgrimage site grew like a miracle. And I don’t only mean temples
and buildings, but also the many thousands of pilgrims who came from all over
the country, many of them had to walk for five days. Many young people, great
organization. Everything grew out of donations and volunteer work. And all of
this in a country that is suffering from occupation and struggle, unemployment
and migration of the poor, ”. The Holy Mass alternated each other, the
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk answered the questions of the young, and placed
the impressive sermons in a crowd of thousands of mass believers. On the main
night worship, when the whole area in front of the cathedral lit up in the dark
Archbishop Jan Graubner spoke to the faithful in their native language. People
appreciated it and many of them came to him for a blessing.
Zarvanica is afflatus
According to legend, a
monk-hermit fell asleep near the healing spring in Zarvanica. He had a dream of
an icon with the Virgin Mary. This sudden awakening, the awakening from the
dream – zarvanytsya, Caritas team with the Archbishop were trying to translate
and name appropriately. “I was thinking about it for a long time and I now
know. It means afflatus, ” the next day remarked the Archbishop aptly.
In Ukraine, the Caritas team
and the Archbishop followed in the footsteps of service to their neighbors and
people in need. As the Archbishop mentioned, liturgy is important, but it is also very important to bring Gospel to
life. And when people watch Charity, they understand.
“Effective assistance to the
Church grows from the close relations between people, and I have to mention at
least some of the experiences after my trip to Ukraine: the church established
a cooperative in Zarvanica for private farmers in the country to double the
price of joint milk sales and so they don’t have to run out of the countryside.
Orphanage in Bortnyky for thirty boys,
where the religious life and family atmosphere, was based on donations and their own work. Organization in Lopatyn cooking lunch for forty poor
children. Some days, an old woman, already raising five grandchildren, who feed on her miserable retirement and
occasional earnings, cook there as a volunteer. Faith that manifests itself in
love has amazing power. ”
trail of love, helping people in need
Orphanage for boys, Bortnyky village. Founded 15 years
ago by the Miles Jesu community, it looked after for about thirty boys. At that
time Ruslan Markiv as a new member arrived there. However, it became his life
mission and he succeeded in giving those wounded boys a new family and thus a
future. From the beginning, the Archdiocesan Caritas Olomouc (ACHO) has
supported that orphanage. “At the start they all were in a single house, on the
ground floor, there was a crowded accommodation, dining room, kitchen, showers
and toilets, school, chapel… The boys slept crammed in small rooms, because of
the dampness and mold there was no order. In the 2.5 x 5-meter kitchen a food
for thirty people and farm animals was cooked. There were pieces of fiberglass
in the windows as isolation, so that it does not pull in so much, ”described
ACHO director Václav Keprt. Despite all this, he saw that the children in that
orphanage were treated well and believed that it would continue to develop. And
it really happened. Unlike state institutions, where there are still 300, 400
Children with traumas (some of them have lost their parents, others have been abused), who dwell in state homes, have no ability to get the proper help. “It is not possible to satisfy the emotional needs of so many children in state institutions, and they lack social skills. They can’t take care of food, cook or buy something, they can’t communicate with others. There is also a restrictive regime. In the orphanage in Bortnyky everything is different. It looks very close to family. The boys do have freedom here, they can go to the village any time, there are also many visitors who come here, they still have a formation and they also work a lot, ” continued Václav Keprt. Boys take care of the farm, grow potatoes, produce cider, have beekeeping, raise pets. They help to cook at the kitchen and are doing a sweep-up together with the mentors. Home benefits from its own work and gifts. Currently there is a building with kitchen, dining room, accommodation and a chapel. The former house is converted into a school with a place for volunteers. The buildings are surrounded by a large garden. According to Vaclav Keprt, it is important that boys can take care of themselves. “They study, work, or both. They also have girlfriends, one of them will be getting married. They are successful in life and this is very important, ” he stressed.
The next stop was Ternopil Charity. ACHO has helped
and supported it too. The citizens of Ternopil provide home care to the infirm;
they distribute food to them from their social canteen, which they supply from
their fields. They also provide palliative care. Furthermore, they operate
social taxis, where a specially adapted car transports people in a wheelchair
or less mobile. “Since this service has proved to be very necessary, we
are just preparing a fundraising for the social taxi to continue it’s
work” said Andrij Marchuk, director of the Ternopil Charity. In Ternopil,
they also have physiotherapy, a laundry for the infirm, and supply the socially
weak with food and clothing. They help young people and children from poverty-stricken
families who can learn to cook, work with computers,
go to the gym, etc. The citizens of Ternopil also support clients with mental
illness or various disabilities by therapy and workshops. For example, Olichka
creates hats for small snowmen. Serhiy writes poetry, which is an image of his
soul. At the age of 23 he has already published three compilations of poems.
Dnes neztrácej naději, vzleť.
Života si cení ten,
kdo každý den
Když žiješ, netrať ani minuty.
Den nekoupíš za peníze,
a pak noc, do které srdce letí
Many years ago, ACHO also helped Caritas Kolomyja to
create a background for helping others. Their management and staff are so
clever that you can find the Best Nonprofit of the Year diploma in their
meeting room. And they continue. The walls of the room are covered with large
signs with plans and visions for the future. First, a new school will be built.
“On the ground floor there will be a school for pupils up to the 4th form and,
on the first floor, a kindergarten. Everything should be finished by the end of
August, ”said Serhiy Tryfjak, Kolomyja
The Kolomyja provides home care, care for people with
disabilities, children and young people from poverty-stricken
families, and internally displaced people who fled the
armed conflict in the east of the country.
Field and Goats –
a shard of home for Darina and her mother
In 2014, Darina and her mother left their home in the
east of Ukraine. They cannot come back yet. But they still have hope. They farm
a field near Kolomyja and keep goats as they did at home. Darina also goes to
the theater club and music school. Hope still lives…
Caritas Kolomyja now is located in a renovated
two-story building near the city center. It used to be in an old house on the
outskirts. The old building has also been renovated and currently there is a
dormitory for more than 20 homeless people. They can not only sleep here, but
they also have a shower and wash their clothes. “On the first floor of the
building, we are planning to provide some space for women who suddenly find
themselves in crisis, for example, when they had to flee domestic violence or
something like that,” Serhiy Tryfjak said.
Archdiocesan Caritas Olomouc is trying to support
Ukrainian partners that way, so they can help themselves. And they are doing
well. For example, the Kolomyja Caritas has found allies in the city councilors
who are now contributing to it. “In the past, we invited our partners and
politicians from Ukraine to the Czech Republic. The directors of Caritas,
mayors, head nurses of home care, etc. met here. They have established a
relationship, inspired each other, and that all led to better cooperation and
support of social and health services, ”said Václav Keprt, Director of the
Archdiocesan Caritas Olomouc.
Karolína Opatřilová, Archdiocesan Charity Olomouc
Photo: K. Opatřilová, K. Novodvorska