A missionary priest from Brazil, who has refused to leave his Ukrainian flock, is sheltering 30 refugees in his parish as the bombs continue to fall on Kyiv.
Father Lucas Perozzi, who has been in Ukraine since 2004, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) why he had received the IDPs (internally displaced persons) into his church.
He said: “In this time of war, the people couldn’t remain in their own houses and were spending their nights in bunkers and in underground stations. It was terrible, because these places are cold, dirty, and the atmosphere is very dark.
“They were scared, terrified. Those who came to stay with us can now sleep through the night, in a peaceful atmosphere, despite the war.
“There is brotherly solidary here, people help each other out. When someone is down, sad and afraid, somebody else isn’t doing so badly and helps out”.
Father Lucas added: “Some shops are still open, but their shelves are getting emptier every day. Medicine is starting to run out also”.
Father Lucas, a priest of the Neocatechumenal Way, explained that the war hadn’t stopped people receiving the sacraments and revealed he had recently married a couple.
He said: “Yesterday we had a wedding, and we’re having another one today. People come to confession as well.
“It is impressive, because people come and ask us to marry them, even though they know that we can’t prepare anything fancy.
“They don’t have romantic illusions, they want to live through these days in the grace of God, as a family.
“Even amidst the war, we can see that God is love, He continues to love each and every one of us without limits”.
Since the war in Ukraine started, ACN has announced more than £1 million in emergency aid supporting more than 300 priests and religious caring for IDPs and others suffering because the war.
Father Lucas said: “We receive a lot of aid from ACN, and not only now during the war. The diocesan missionary Redemptoris Mater seminary, where I was trained, was, and continues to be, supported by ACN.
“Thanks to ACN I was able to acquire a car here in the parish which I use for pastoral work – the church in which these 30 people are staying was built largely through the help of the charity.
“I just heard that we have received emergency aid from ACN to continue our work, so we are very grateful!”
Original interview by Rodrigo Arantes