By Dr. Adriana Bara, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)
In June 2023, CNEWA’s President, Msgr. Peter Vaccari, Anna Dombrovska, CNEWA’s Ukraine Program Coordinator and I made the journey to western Ukraine to visit the various programs that we support. Since February of 2022, CNEWA has been at the forefront of assistance for Ukrainians, with thanks to the generosity of our Canadian donors.
As we settled in, I could feel that we were in a country at war.
On a daily basis, we were summoned by air raid sirens to run for shelter. Following our routine gathering in group confinement, we would be released after a few hours to resume our work.
Despite the many civil constraints of war, we could see how Ukrainians continue to be resilient and determined to live a life of peace and stability. They trust that the war will end soon and they live with that solidarity and hope. Millions of people, including Canadians, have been steadfast in remembering and supporting them during these challenging times.
We saw an incredible spirit of solidarity as we visited projects that are supported by our papal agency.
We were moved by volunteers packing boxes with food for displaced persons, drivers distributing essential supplies to those with dire needs at risk of losing their own lives, religious brothers transforming a monastery into a safe haven for internally displaced persons, and nuns offering young orphans a warm and loving place to continue their studies.
The Ukrainian Catholic University converted classrooms into shelters and learned how to adapt so that they could continue preparing students for ministry amongst those who are struggling. Finally, we spent time at The Sheptytsky Hospital, learning about their efforts to offer loving palliative care to those most in need.
These acts of charity were made all the more effective and expansive thanks to the generosity of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. The prayers and financial support of Canadians are yielding bountiful fruits of love, compassion, care and mercy in Ukraine.
Visiting Ukraine was a powerful gift and a heart-touching experience for Anna, CNEWA’s President Msgr. Peter Vaccari and myself.
As we return to work and life here at home, CNEWA Canada will continue to be in solidarity with people in need – helping them when they are hungry, bandaging them when they are injured and sheltering when they have no place to call home or at risk of losing hope.
May we continue to support Ukraine and be great witnesses of love and care for those whom we serve. Our work in Ukraine is far from over.
An agency of the Holy See, CNEWA works for, through and with Eastern churches throughout the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe, providing pastoral and humanitarian support. Founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926, CNEWA was incorporated in Canada as a registered charity by Canada Revenue Agency in 2003.
Learn more about CNEWA’s work in Ukraine by visiting cnewa.ca or following the organization on Facebook (@CNEWACanada), Twitter (@CnewaC) and Instagram @cnewacanada