Ukraine: ACN response program to the COVID-19

70 years of communism have left their mark on Ukrainian society. Corruption, lack of prospects, economic crisis and war in the east of the country have led to younger, well-educated people, in particular, leaving
the country. The country is currently going through the most difficult political, economic and social crisis since independence in 1991. The situation in the occupied areas of the East continues to be one of very high tension. In May 2019 an actor, Volodymyr Zelenskyj was elected as the sixth president of independent Ukraine. With his election came new hopes for a better future.

The situation of the Church: Of the 44 million Ukrainians, just under 10% are Catholic, with about 1.5 million Roman Catholics. The Catholic Church is represented here with two liturgical rite churches. Most Ukrainian Catholics belong to the Greek Catholic Church, which celebrates its services using the Byzantine rite. A central concern of the Church is supporting families. The general lack of prospects often leads to the break-up of marriages and families. These conditions urgently call for the strengthening of family pastoral care. 30.04.202 I Dossier Projects related to the COVID response programme In this effort, it is most often the sisters who make an indispensable contribution by taking care of those who come to them seeking advice and support: often the elderly, the sick, people with disabilities and neglected children. The Catholic Church in Ukraine has difficulty coping with the financial needs without assistance from abroad. The situation in the diocese of Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhya.

Sr. Sabina Pekala member of the community of the Little Missionary Sisters of Mercy.
Sr. Sabina Pekala member of the community of the Little Missionary Sisters of Mercy.

The diocese is located in the occupied territory. The war began in 2015 and since then the economic situation in the region has been very unstable. Electricity, gas and food prices are rising steadily. As the parishioners are poor, they cannot help the sisters. 46 sisters from 9 communities, including contemplative Carmelites and consecrated women, are active in the diocese. The mission of all these sisters is essential for the dioceses of Kharkiv and Zaporizhya. The sisters work in two ‘Mother & Child houses’ and in the social centre for the homeless and sick. They do catechesis in the parishes and care for the workers, they organize retreats for married couples and for young people, they help children with homework and take care of them. The six brothers from three communities are involved in the Church and in the house for homeless men. Facing the Covid 19
We received the testimony of Sr Sabina Pekala who is part of the community of the Little Missionary Sisters of Mercy. She works as a nurse at the Social Center of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. « The most important thing is to be with other people and give them hope. »

« I have been serving in Kharkov in Ukraine for 10 years. Most of my ministry concerns the Social Centre of St. Elizabeth from Hungary at Caritas. As a qualified nurse (I graduated from the School of Nursing in Warsaw in 1984), 5 days a week, I carry out different types of consultations and basic medical care for people who ask for help: parishioners, elderly people, families with many children, disabled and homeless people, some of them are refugees of war. Currently, despite the COVID pandemic, I also reach out to people who ask for help. The most important thing is to tell them what to do to avoid getting sick. With the help of other nuns and single
mothers from the Caritas Houses of Hope in the Diocese of Kharkiv, we also distribute masks. The most important thing is to be with the people and give them hope! »

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