As troops close in on Kyiv and attempt to encircle the city, nuns are donating their blood to help those injured during the Russian assault.
Father Mateusz Adamski of Kyiv-Zhytomyr Diocese, which covers Ukraine’s capital, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) why there had been an increased need for blood plasma.
He said: “Due to the fact that there are many wounded civilians and soldiers every day, there is a need for blood donation, so residents of Kyiv have donated record amounts of blood to help both Ukrainian defenders and wounded civilians.
“The nuns, who remain in the Kyiv-Zhytomyr diocese, also became donors, because it is possible for them to do what Jesus did for us when he shed his blood so that we might live, to save the life of someone else.”
Father Adamski who is overseeing ACN aid in the diocese – the charity is sending more than £1 million to Ukraine – described the various ways members of the Church have helped respond to the crisis.
The priest said: “The diocesan curia team with priests, nuns and lay people has delivered water, food and medication to different places, where it was needed and possible to reach.
“The diocesan staff also helps in evacuating people from dangerous places”.
He added volunteers were risking their lives – the diocese confirmed that the Mayor of Hostomel, north of Kyiv, was shot dead while distributing food and medicine.
Father Adamski said: “The humanitarian mission and volunteering are in danger now because of immediate risk to lives, but we continue to provide it where needed.
“We, as the Church of Christ, are with our people who are in danger, in need, vulnerable, frightened, wounded and weak”.
Church contacts in the country told ACN, “many villages and towns are in a state of humanitarian disaster, and many citizens have no water and food.”
According to official UN figures, up to three million people have fled Ukraine since the invasion began.
Sources from within the country have said that 379 schools, 117 hospitals and 43 ambulances have been damaged by Russia shelling.
Bishop Vitalii Kryvytsky, also of the diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr, is one of the many Church leaders who have refused to leave their flocks.
He said: “We cannot be anywhere else.”
In 2021 ACN had 41 projects running in the diocese and, since the war started, it has been providing support for more than 300 priests and religious.
With thanks to Filipe d’Avillez & Maria Lozano