UKRAINE: Fresh lifeline for Lviv convents caring for refugees

With picture of a Sister with an IDP family being caring for in Lviv, Ukraine (© ACN)
With picture of a Sister with an IDP family being caring for in Lviv, Ukraine (© ACN)

Heroic Sisters in Ukraine helping some of the country’s more than six million IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) have received vital support from a leading Catholic charity.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has announced a new emergency aid package of almost £60,000 (€72,000) supporting Roman Catholic women’s orders tending to IDPs in Lviv Archdiocese.

Sister Tobiasza of the Congregation of St Joseph told ACN that the community has opened the doors of their Lviv convent to care for those forced from their homes by the war – most of whom are women and children.

She said: “There are people sleeping in every corner of the monastery, both in beds and on mattresses on the floor.

“They are very grateful for the opportunity to wash, eat hot meals and get some rest. Some spent several days in basements or in air-raid shelters.”

The Sisters also locate families that can offer room to the refugees once they have crossed the border into Poland or other neighbouring countries – even arranging to give families transport to help them safely on their way.

Sister Tobiaszca stressed that the congregation was doing all they can to help, including caring for those with special needs.

She said: “In another of our convents, in the city of Stryi, the Sisters prepared a room to host a family of two children and a grandmother.

“With the help of local and foreign benefactors they managed to buy a washing machine, a refrigerator, beds, and so on – all the basics to be able to live.”

Sister Tobiaszca told ACN this care was essential for the IDP family as “one of the boys is sick and needs special care and food.”

ACN announced the aid in response to an urgent request from Sister Edita Duszczak, president of the Association of Women’s Latin-Rite Catholic Congregations of Ukraine, who contacted the charity as the needs of the IDPs the Sisters were caring for grew.

In a letter to ACN she wrote: “In the name of all the religious sisters of the Archdiocese of Lviv, I express my great gratitude for the help you have provided us until now – and therefore we dare to ask for support once again, to be able to serve and help in this difficult time of war in Ukraine which God has seen fit to allow us to live through.”

Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of ACN (UK) – who retires this year after more than 30 years of service, said: “How could we refuse to help these heroic Sisters who are selflessly showing their love for the suffering people of Ukraine? I know them and have seen them at work.

“This latest aid package will help bring the love of Christ to a people living in the shadow of war and death.”

According to UNHCR figures, up to 4 million IDPs have crossed into neighbouring countries, and more than 6 million are displaced within Ukraine.