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Church in Western Ukraine opens its doors to displaced people


IVANO-FRANKIVSK, Ukraine (CNS) — The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Ivano-Frankivsk opened its doors to people fleeing Russian bombing in other parts of Ukraine and what it found were not only guests but volunteers.

The archeparchy, based about 300 miles west of Kyiv, is hosting more than 1,200 displaced people from other parts of Ukraine, said an article posted on its website March 9.

People displaced by war are accommodated in a classroom at St. Basil the Great High School in Ivano-Frankivsk. (CNS photo/courtesy Archeparchy of Ivano-Frankivsk)

In addition to about 450 people staying in rectories throughout the archeparchy, it said, guests are staying with seminarians at the Ivano-Frankivsk Theological Seminary of St. Josaphat, a church-run summer camp in Podlyute and at St. Basil the Great High School in Ivano-Frankivsk.

Most of the guests, the archeparchy said, “try actively to help and become volunteers themselves.”

The seminary had 142 guests March 9 and had hosted more than 300 internally displaced people since the Russian invasion began Feb. 24, the article said.

Nikita is one of the guests. He was forced to leave his home in Donetsk in 2014 when Russian-backed rebels began fighting. He moved to Kyiv, but was forced to flee again.

He had studied at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, he said, so he was familiar with the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church.

“What impresses us the most here is the feeling of security, as well as the friendly attitude,” he said. “It seems as if we have known the seminarians and fathers who are here for many years. I am very grateful to them for that.”

While hosting the displaced people and engaging in a variety of volunteer work, three dozen seminarians and priests also continue with their daily program of worship and prayer. Many of their guests join them each morning for the Divine Liturgy.

At the church’s summer camp in Podlyute, near the Carpathian Mountains, 80 guests are in residence and are assisted by Father Vasyl Filipovych, who provides shelter and food, but also spiritual care and confessions.

Father Markian Bukatchuk, who teaches at St. Basil the Great High School, said 82 people had stayed at the school, living “in the classrooms where we have put beds and mattresses. Through our joint efforts, we have provided everyone who lives with us with three full meals daily” in the school cafeteria.