Since the war broke out on 24 February 2022 more than 12 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes. Over 80% of them are women and children, and most of them have fled to West Ukraine, while others have travelled further afield to other countries. However, many have decided to stay on in the region, hoping to be able to return to their homes again as soon as possible, or else simply not knowing where else to go to.
In the Archdiocese of Lviv all the women‘s religious communities have opened their houses to take in the refugees and offer them help and protection. At present there are 144 sisters from 23 different communities involved in this work. Some of these sisters have themselves been forced to flee from other regions of the country and have taken refuge with their sisters of the same congregation. All of them are now working to help others, who have lost everything and are often in despair.
For example, in Saint Michael‘s parish in Lviv, the Handmaids of the Immaculate Virgin Mary have welcomed refugees from Mariupol, Kharkiv, Zaporizhya and other parts of East Ukraine and housed them in the parish orphanage which they run. There are 30 of them altogether, and the sisters are looking after them, providing decent accommodation, meals, clothing, basic hygiene and cosmetic products and frequently also helping them deal with paperwork and officialdom. At the same time they are endeavouring to help the children deal with the trauma they have been through.
Nor are they neglecting the spiritual needs of the refugees. „In the evenings we pray the Rosary together with our guests in the convent chapel“, the sisters tell us. „And when the air raid sirens go off and the people are forced to seek shelter in the basement, we go down there with them and pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet together with them, asking God to protect us all in his providence. But what God wants above all is to put „a new heart and a new spirit“ in each one of us, and so prayer becomes a space in which it is possible to open ourselves to the light of God.“
Similarly, in their other convent in Krysowice, close to the border crossing, the sisters care for the refugees, offer them overnight accommodation and provide medical care. They also provide accommodation for doctors and other volunteers from Poland, who have come to Ukraine to help.
We have given a total of 72,000 Euros for these 144 sisters from the 23 different communities in the Archdiocese of Lviv, so that they can continue to help and serve those who have lost everything.