UKRAINE: Seminarians scarred by the war but growing in faith

Father Ruslan Mykhalkiv with seminarians at the Seminary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Vorzel near Kyiv (© ACN)
Father Ruslan Mykhalkiv with seminarians at the Seminary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Vorzel near Kyiv (© ACN)

Seminarians in Ukraine are just as bruised by the war as the general population – but they continue striving to be a sign of God’s presence in the devastated country.

Vitali, a Greek Catholic seminarian from Kyiv, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that he considered himself fortunate to have been able to bury his father who died in battle in 2022.

Vitali – who has also lost one of his best friends – said that many people will never find the bodies of their loved ones who perished in the war.

He added: “I try to help those who have also lost someone close to them – doubtless I can understand them better.

“But my pain is still very great.”
He explained that his faith has helped him to find peace despite the ordeal and to support others in a similar situation.

Roberto, a Roman Catholic seminarian from Lviv, said that he draws strength from Eucharistic adoration to answer difficult questions about why God allows suffering.

He added: “One day, my superior asked me to look after the refugees and to talk with them.

“And it was when I was teaching them the Catechism that I realised the meaning of my vocation.

“Two of them received their First Communion, one went to confession for the first time in ten years, others were confirmed, and one couple got married.”

He stressed that God clearly continues his work despite the suffering of the war.

ACN helped establish all ten of the country’s Catholic theological academies and continues supporting all seminarians.

Father Ruslan Mykhalkiv, rector at the Roman Catholic Seminary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Vorzel, just outside Kyiv, expressed his gratitude to the charity for helping to restore the building after “the windows were broken and everything had been wrecked” by the fighting.

Father Mykhalkiv said: “Thanks to your help, the seminary is now even more beautiful than before. Thank you so much for that.”

He concluded: “The grace of the Lord is greater than the horror of war.”


With thanks to Amélie Berthelin