The UK office of a Catholic charity is sending more than a quarter of a million pounds in Mass stipends to support priests in Ukraine ministering to a besieged and bombarded populace.
Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)’s UK branch is providing £273,940 (€326,724) in Mass offerings, which will provide a lifeline to priests and those they care for.
Across the country, more than 37,500 Masses will be offered for the intentions of the charity’s benefactors.
Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki of Lviv wrote to ACN stressing the pressing needs in his archdiocese.
He wrote: “This time I come once again with an urgent request. Our archdiocese is in a difficult situation…. and we cannot hope for any financial help from our faithful…
“Our priests have no income except for Mass intentions, which are usually their only income”.
The stipends will help priests ministering in an increasingly demanding situation as Russian forces try to capture key towns in the country.
In the capital city Kyiv, where residential areas were hit by Russian airstrikes yesterday (Monday 14th March), and the surrounding area, 6,422 Masses will be said by 216 diocesan priests and seven seminary tutors from both the Ukrainian Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches.
During Monday’s airstrike, a nine-storey block of flats in Kyiv’s Obolon suburb was hit, killing one resident and wounding several others.
Priests have continued ministering to the faithful as bombs from the Russian Federation forces fall on the city.
Fr Mateusz, from St Anthony’s RC Church, is shepherding a small community that has been hiding underground in Kyiv from the attacks.
He told ACN: “There are already more than 30 of us here, including a few children, and we are experiencing God’s accompanying presence every day… Every day we pray together and adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of ACN (UK), stressed the importance of Mass stipends to aid priests ministering to those caught up in the war.
He said: “Mass offerings have always been a chain of love between benefactors in the UK and priests serving Christ’s Church – but as the war burns ever stronger in Ukraine, these stipends are a symbol of spiritual solidarity.
“I thank the kind benefactors of ACN whose Mass intentions are making a real difference in this horrific conflict.”
According to the charity’s 2021 Annual Report, almost 1.8 million Masses were celebrated for its benefactors’ intentions in 2020, meaning the charity was able to help one in every nine priests worldwide – a total of 414,065.