They are on the frontline in a twofold sense: the frontline in the war and the frontline in their work of mercy. The Brothers of Saint Albert, in East Ukraine, care for the homeless, the handicapped and the alcoholics
Yurij is 69. His story is a story of mercy received. He suﬀered divorce, breakdown and alcoholism – which eventually aﬀected his legs. In the hospital they amputated his right leg and left foot. As soon as the wounds had healed, he was discharged. It was winter; he had no home and no money – not even for crutches. He left the hospital crawling on his knees, dragged himself to a park bench and wept. A man and his daughter spotted him and took him to the Albertine Brothers. They took him in, found him a wheelchair and a bed. For him they became “my brothers”. Now he works as porter in the house and in his free time looks after the vegetables in the garden. The brothers have given “meaning and colour to my life” , he says. Now Yurij has hope again.
Igor too was sitting, homeless and sick, on a bench. A woman, a stranger, took him to the monastery of the Albertines. “They gave me a bed, which I had missed so much, warm food, clothing.” Igor was already so weakened by then that when he first arrived he had to be artificially fed in hospital. Today he does the cooking for everyone. Brother Wiesław, who on first seeing him thought he would live “just two weeks more” , now says, “He puts his whole heart into this work. The meals for all of us are delicious.”
The Albertines oﬀer hope and food. They run shelters for the homeless, a soup kitchen for the poor, and a bakery. “No one gets to heaven alone” , their founder, Adam Chmiełowski used to say. A young artist, he had initially joined the Franciscans as Brother Albert, giving overnight shelter to the needy in his own studio; then, on the advice of his confessor, he went to the homeless shelters in order to be closer to the suﬀering and destitute. He himself knew poverty and suﬀering. Aged 18, in the war against the Russians, he had lost a leg, while for the last two years of his life he suﬀered from stomach cancer. His four spiritual sons in the diocese of Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhya are the last hope for many people. Something that could also be said of the 45 sisters in the nine female congregations in the same diocese. They too are beacons of hope for so many people in the war zone – from the lonely, elderly and sick, through to the children preparing for First Holy Communion.
Thanks to your generosity, we are able to help both the Albertine Brothers and the religious sisters in the diocese with basic support (€24,500). So that their light can continue to witness to the love of Christ. For all they want is to bring everybody with them into Heaven