A chapel for a relief and rehabilitation centre for Caritas Spes Ukraine

A full quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the consequences of its godless rule are still evident in the country. Many people in Ukraine still feel a sense of inner emptiness. They are searching for something more, for God in fact. Bishops, priests and religious will all tell you the same thing, namely that this yearning for God is growing ever greater, and people are searching for genuine religious truth and pastoral support.

Often people‘s first contact with the Church comes as a result of practical acts of charity. The poverty in the country, which was already widespread, as only become still worse as a result of the crisis in the East. The average monthly income is now around 50 Euros, while prices continue to rise. More and more people are being forced to turn to soup kitchens, clothing banks and other forms of practical help.

The Church-based charity Caritas Spes Ukraine is running a number of rehabilitation and relief centres, the most recent of which has been opened in the diocese of Lutsk in the town of Pulmo (Western Ukraine). It is a place where orphaned children and children of needy families, who are under the care of Caritas, can come and relax in the summer months. In winter prayer groups and family associations meet here for retreats and spiritual exercises. Thus it is a place not only of physical rest and recuperation but also of spiritual regeneration. It is also used for gatherings of priests and religious.

The centre in Pulmo does not have a chapel of its own, however, which is a cause of sadness not only to Bishop Shyrokoradiuk, the president of Caritas Spes, but also to local Bishop Vitaliy Skomarovsky of Lutsk and to the director of Caritas in the diocese of Lutsk, Roman Burnyk. For as they point out, “A church is a sign of the Catholic character and of the spiritual dimension of the centre‘s activity.” So now the plan is to build a small church that will also be identifiable from the outside as a church. For people in Ukraine it is important that a church should look like a church, even from the outside, since otherwise many might easily assume it has something to do with a sect. ACN is helping for the construction of this church with a contribution of 10,000 Euros.

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Founded in 1947 as a Catholic aid organization for war refugees and recognized as a papal foundation since 2011, ACN is dedicated to the service of Christians around the world, through information, prayer and action, wherever they are persecuted or oppressed or suffering material need. ACN supports every year an average of 6000 projects in close to 150 countries, thanks to private donations, as the foundation receives no public funding.