PRESS RELEASE : Ukraine – The Catholic Church is trying to aid the people

Reinhard Backes, ACN International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Koenigstein , 21 February, 2013 Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, ArchbishopMontreal/Königstein – March Monday 2nd – 2015 – The Catholic Church in Ukraine is trying to aid the people regardless of their confession. The Archbishop of Lviv, Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, drew attention to this during a visit to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “We look after refugees, provide pastoral as well as material care for the families of soldiers, operate soup kitchens, and we are now also distributing food and medicines to other needy people,” said Archbishop Mokrzycki while looking in briefly after an ad limina visit to Rome.

“Pope Francis listened very carefully to us, the bishops from Ukraine, and he promised to speak out for peace in Ukraine to those in positions of political responsibility and to the international institutions. He also agreed to give us material assistance for our work on behalf of Ukraine,” the Archbishop of Lviv emphasised.

UKRAINE / NATIONAL 14/02434 Support of the Ukrainian Caritas for

The Catholic Church’s aid activities are directed to refugees from the conflict regions in the east of the country as well as to the needy in West Ukraine. The conflict has been made more acute by the critical economic situation in the country. Archbishop Mokrzycki said: “The Mayor of Lviv, for example, addresses himself directly to the Churches again and again, asking if we can help to accommodate such-and-such a number of refugees.

There is great solidarity; Christians of different confessions are coming closer together. Although the people do not have very much, they help one another.” In order to house the refugees, according to the Archbishop, makeshift shanties have now been erected in both East and West Ukraine. ACN supports the Church’s aid activities in numerous Ukrainian dioceses. In recent months, a sum of more than 182 300 dollars has been provided for this purpose.

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.



Journey with ACN – Ukraine

JOURNEY WITH ACN is  our weekly newsletter regularly posted to our blog and designed to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and various projects we have helped to bring into being together with ACN benefactors.

This week :  Ukraine


The priests of the Catholic University in Lviv thank you for your Mass offerings

By ACN International
Adapted by ACN Canada

The tradition of having Holy Mass celebrated for a particular intention, or for the soul of a departed loved one is an ancient and venerable one. The gift, or stipend, which the faithful give the priest in return is in no sense a “payment,” but rather a gesture of loving gratitude, above all towards God who, through the words of consecration uttered by the priest, makes present the saving sacrifice of Christ. The gift of money is a means of supporting the priest – and for priests in many of the poorest countries it is absolutely vital.

 ©Aid to the Church in Need

©Aid to the Church in Need

Generally, these priests receive no salary, and the ordinary faithful themselves are too poor to help. Hence your Mass stipends are often the sole means of support to be placed in the otherwise empty hands of the priests. They also enable them to go out and help others, including the needy who are always knocking at their door. In many countries the faithful place all their hope and trust in the priest, looking to him for help in every need, including their material needs. They truly look on the priest as a father and shepherd and expect him not only to comfort souls in spiritual need but also to help provide food, medicines, clothing, schooling for their children and vocational training for their young. In countries such as these, all eyes are turned in hope towards the priest.

imagesIn Ukraine today, the priests are also coming to realize just what a challenge now confronts them in the upheavals and crises in their own society. The collapse of the previous, corrupt regime, has been followed by months of fighting against the separatist forces in East Ukraine. Violence, injustice, expulsion and even death have been the consequences.

“The Catholic University and its priests are likewise involved in numerous different ways in the work of supporting the soldiers and the refugees. Among other things, the priests visit the wounded in the military hospital in Lviv; they pray and celebrate Holy Mass with them, support their relatives, organize and coordinate the collection of medicines, clothes and articles of hygiene. During this time the social commitment and visible presence of the priests is particularly necessary. But this also demands a tremendous cost of them in terms of time and energy,” wrote Father Bogdan Prakh the Rector of the University, in a letter to ACN .

And the same time he thanks ACN and all the benefactors for helping with your Mass Offering, which help to ease the burden on these priests and give them a little more time and space to breathe.

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

To donate to this project or to other similar projects, please contact us by phone – e-mail or directly through out website!


By Marta Petrosillo, ACN Italy

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada 


“I believe that my kidnappers had been watching me for some time already, because they had a lot of information both about me and about my parishioners,” says Father Sergey, one of the three priests kidnapped in Ukraine between July and August this year. He is talking to ACN about his 12 days of imprisonment. This Ukrainian Greek-Catholic priest, who belongs to the archiepiscopal exarchate of Donetsk, was abducted at the end of July while driving his car.

“Three men got out of a car next to me, belonging to the army of New Russia. I realised immediately that it was me they wanted. They forced me into their car and then knocked me out with a sponge soaked in chloroform.” When Father Sergey woke up, his abductors explained to him what he had done “wrong” – namely being one of the organizers of a day of prayer for peace and the unity of Ukraine. A prayer against New Russia. “If someone had prayed for the Soviet Union in Berlin in 1942, what was the Germans have done?”

Several times his abductors threatened to shoot the priest. “They told me to pray, because these would be my last moments,” he recalls; “then they fired into the air.” Father Sergey was not actually subjected to torture, but he was deprived of the insulin he needs to keep his diabetes under control. “As the days passed, my condition grew worse and I begged them to give me the medicine. After a week in prison, his abductors were joined by a man who spoke with a strong Muscovite accident – unlike the other kidnappers who were clearly from Donetsk – and who interrogated the priest for four days in succession. [“The man had a great deal of information about me and even knew the names of my parishioners…] On the 12th day of his imprisonment Father Sergey was blindfolded and forced to get into a car. He was convinced that he was about to be killed at any moment, but after a short journey his abductors left him, completely alone. He waited a couple of hours, and then began to drive to safety.

“I went through some frightening moments, but I always managed to find strength in prayer,” he recalls. “When my blood pressure went up, as a result of the lack of medication, I began to recite the Rosary. And, as though miraculously, my heart began to beat more slowly again.”

Don Victor, a Catholic priest of the diocese of Kharkiv-Zaporižžja, was abducted in similar circumstances. “Some men from the Army of New Russia stopped me at a checkpoint,” he tells ACN. “After checking my documents, they asked me to follow them for a brief interview, but I wasn’t freed again until eleven days later.” He too was subjected to numerous interrogations and more than one mock execution. [Initially, the separatists thought that Don Victor was a spy, because he was coming from central Ukraine.]

Inside the small room in which he was held prisoner, a room of less than 12 square meters, there were at different times more than 50 other hostages, to whom Don Victor was able to give spiritual support.

The third priest to be abducted, Don Pavel, is a Polish priest who has been working in Kazakhstan. He had gone to Ukraine to take part in the day of prayer for peace.





Interview with Bishop Jacek Pyl from Ukraine, conducted by Robert Lalonde

An interview with Bishop Jacek Pyl, diocese of  Odessa-Simferopol – interpreted by Father Marian Gil – conducted by Robert Lalonde, Head of information for the Canadian office of Aid to the Churcj in Need (ACN) on Tuesday, August 26, in Montreal.

 Written by Amanda Griffin, ACN Canada





‘Let’s support one another’

Can you describe the diocese of Odessa-Simferopol in terms of the numbers of faithful, its churches and other information you would like to share with us about your diocese?

The diocese of Odessa-Simferopol is situated in the Southeast territory of Ukraine.  It’s a bit bigger than one third of Poland. It is a missionary territory which is slowly growing and within it, we face many challenges.  The diocese is presently split following the Russian take-over of Crimea. My co-cathedral is situated in Simferopol in Crimea, where the Russian presence has taken-over while the diocesan bishop is in Odessa – which is approximately 460 kilometers from Simferopol. Therefore, my diocesan bishop, Bishop Bronislaw Bernackiis in Odessa and I am in Simferopol. Under my jurisdiction there are 7 parishes and 13 priests. The entire diocese has 64 priests. and has about 3,000 faithful. 

Can you tell us about the climate in the diocese since the split took place?

It is a very challenging situation where we have many questions but not too many answers. Although there is war in Ukraine and Crimea is under Russian rule, the Catholic Church can still exercise its ministry but we do not know how our future is going to look.

 How did your diocese mobilize itself following this difficult situation?

Following the Russian take-over, Aid to the Church in Need and another organizations contacted me and asked if I needed any help. ACN responded immediately and I am very grateful that we were not left alone. We received medical help and also food to distribute among the poor people in the parishes.

Can you tell us what you know about the priest who was kidnapped in East Ukraine?

I am aware of one priest who was kidnapped and released a week later thanks to the efforts of bishops and also thanks to the priests of Patriarchate of Moscow.  He is doing his ministry, however the bishop restricted his ministry from the area where war is taking place because it is dangerous and because of possible unforeseen consequences.

UKRAINE 2 Can you tell us more about the actual needs at this time?

The needs are very great and varied because this territory is where our most basic and fundamental work began just 25 years ago. If we speak about needs, first of all we need priests and also religious sisters who would help us with evangelization.  In Crimea, we celebrate Mass in three languages: predominantly in Russian, but also in English for students from India and Africa in Simferopol and in Spanish in Sevastopol. And occasionally we celebrate Mass in Ukrainian and Polish.  If I would have enough priests I would be able to open several new parishes.

I would like to invite a contemplative order of sisters who would pray and support this mission from a spiritual point of view because it is an incredible challenge we face, and we need the spiritual support. Once I find a religious order who would like to come and work with us, I would also like to build a monastery for them for which I will need funds. In Ukraine (Kiev and Kharkov) there are Carmelite Sisters and we are very happy to have contemplative religious orders.  A contemplative dimension is very important in our Evangelization.

What would you like to see happen in your diocese?

If the situation stabilizes than my plan is to build a co-cathedral there because we have a very small place for celebrating Mass and for meetings with people at this time.  We have been waiting for the last 20 years to get permission to build a church. So, time will show, and we would also like to build facilities for priests and for meetings with parishioners.

 Will this project be submitted to ACN?

Primarily, ACN looks after these types of projects. As I mentioned, we have been trying for the last 20 years to get permission to build a church. More recently, I had begun speaking with the Orthodox Archbishop Lazar, representative of the Moscow Patriarch in Simferopol; he showed certain openness towards the idea of building a church. We have done many things in order to advance our preparation for building the co-cathedral and other facilities but, everything stopped after the Russian take-over and we are not sure if we will have to start again from the beginning or what will happen with the project.



 How did the people of your diocese react after the tragic crash of a Boeing Malaysia Airlines plane which caused the deaths of 298 people on July 17?

It was a great shock for everyone.  We prayed for those people and embraced them with our prayers. We prayed for those who shot down the plane and for those who were killed.  It was a terrifying situation when we learned that these people, their bodies, were deprived of their dignity because thieves stole their clothing, their belongings, credit cards and whatever they could find. They were not treated like human bodies …

 We recently learned that there would be elections on October 26 in this regard.  What is the position of the Church?  Are they encouraging them to vote?

The Catholic Church of Latin rite prays for just elections and that they are good, solid and also wise people are elected for this country.  Ukraine has suffered so much and for so long – so it is about time that we have good and wise people who will rule this country. We also need champions for peace – because whenever war takes place, everyone suffers.  Families and children – Ukrainian and Russian people suffer alike. War tears people and families apart.

Can you tell us more about the impact on families as a result of this conflict?

There are many mixed marriages, between the Ukrainian and Russian people. This war actually created unbelievable wounds within marriages and families – the society and the Churches.  So, we pray for healing and reconciliation, because it brought upon this nation incredible devastation. We pray for a solution which would create a new civilization not using force to resolve problems, but finding a way instead through dialogue and mutual respect to build a new society.



 Finally, do you have a message for our benefactors?

First of all I would like to ask the benefactors to pray for peace in Ukraine. And then I would like to thank them on behalf of all missionaries there for their prayers, for their solidarity and also their material support. I was very happy when I learned that I would have a chance to meet with ACN here in Canada and that I would be given an opportunity to meet representatives of the Canadian branch. I want to say thank you to the people of Canada and North America for their support.

This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Oblate presence of Missionaries of Mary Immaculate in Ukraine. And if we have achieved anything good ministering in Ukraine for the last 25 years, we did it thanks to the support of many dedicated people. We especially thank Aid to the Church in Need.

I would like to summarize in one sentence – let’s support each other, this is the way we can build a better world and better society; when we share our prayers and material goods with each other, the world then becomes a better place.

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.



Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

The great interest of the Aid to the Church in Need Canada (AED) to monitor what is happening in Iraq now, motivates us to share with you this beautiful text signed by four Canadian bishops, including the President of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Bishop Paul-André Durocher.

An appeal for mercy, compassion and justice in the Middle East and throughout the world

The Executive Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting on August 25, 2014, in Quebec City, issues the following appeal:

In the name of the Father of life, and of the Crucified Christ, and of the Spirit of love, we make this appeal for mercy, compassion and justice.

We hear resounding about us still the question that God, Father of all life, posed to humanity at the beginning: “Where is your brother?” We see the homeless and the wounded of the Middle East: in Iraq, Syria and the Holy Land. We hear their cries in Ukraine and in parts of Africa. We observe the persecutions and hardships that hundreds of thousands of people today endure because of their faith and convictions – Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, members of other religions as well as ethnic minorities. The horrors of war and violence are ravaging so many innocent hearts. Families and children are left without water, food, aid and shelter. Homes and communities are being destroyed. Not only is the future at risk for the people of these regions, but international security itself is in peril. War and violence are again eroding the common bonds of humanity, fragmenting the human family. It is Jesus who is being persecuted, who is homeless, who is hungry, who is in prison, who is being tortured.



As followers of the Crucified One, we recognize particularly in the Middle East the sufferings of our own brothers and sisters in faith. Moved by their pains and afflictions, we make their cause our own. We are united with them in solidarity and faith. Our unceasing prayer and hope are rooted in the love and forgiveness by which Our Lord transforms the human heart. Our one comfort is in the concern and care that people around the world are offering. Encouraged by the calls of Pope Francis for peace and justice, we echo the statements and actions of the leaders of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches of the Middle East. We make our appeal to all people – of every faith and in the name of good will, here in Canada and around the world – to do even more to assist the suffering of those in need.

We pray that the Holy Spirit continue to inspire Canadians, particularly the faithful of our Catholic Church, to support the work of agencies that bring solace and aid to the persecuted and the exiled. We pray too that the transforming power of the Spirit inspire political, religious and community leaders, in each of the troubled regions of our world, to speak out loudly for justice and reconciliation, to denounce atrocities, to renounce violence and oppression, to announce and demand peace.

“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people and to his faithful…” (Psalm 85.8)

+ Paul-André Durocher Archbishop of Gatineau President

+ Douglas Crosby, O.M.I. Bishop of Hamilton Vice President

+ Lionel Gendron, P.S.S. Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil Co-Treasurer

+ Anthony Mancini Archbishop of Halifax-Yarmouth Co-Treasurer

Ukraine – “For the first time in the history of contemporary Europe, in a European country, people are dying for the European flag, for European values”

By Mark von Riedemann, ACN International

Adapted AB Griffin, ACN Canada

Thursday, March  20, 2014 — “We believe that Ukraine is a breath of fresh air for Europe,”stated Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishop Borys Gudziak and Professor Myroslav Marynovych, former Gulag political prisoner. “Ukraine is not a trouble spot, but a partner offering a vision – a reminder of the original European spirit: youth, dynamism, and a profound belief in the principles and values that found the European project. The Ukrainian youth carries this vision, and have been martyred for this same hope. What is Europe’s answer to them?”

© Council of the EU

© Council of the EU

Maidan, the space for political expression on Independence Square in Kiev, and replicated in scores of Ukrainian cities and communities worldwide is in fact an “Agora,” a place to discuss, exchange ideas, create consensus. “The Maidan movement, encompassing all levels of Ukrainian society and all religious traditions, said Myroslav Marynovych, is not ending. There is no going back. It is the voice of the people calling for profound change in Ukraine – not simply to rotate the faces in a quasi-Soviet political structure – but a movement to see true democratic structures in place as in the tradition of European democracy. The opportunity that Ukraine and the ongoing democratic processes present might also be an example to Russians as how to move towards democracy.”

Bishop Borys Gudziak concluded by saying: “We see a great historical shift, a deep movement within the Ukrainian society – a passage from fear to dignity. In fact this revolution is called the “Revolution of Dignity.” The resistance to the Yanukovych regime helped people claim their dignity; the invasion of Crimea is helping the people claim their sense of national identity.”

“In these days of heavy political decisions, we came to the EU to help them help us,” said Bishop Gudziak, “to let them know how young Ukrainians are the best guarantee for Europe’s peace and prosperity.”

Bishop Borys Gudziak, the Greek Catholic Eparch for France, Benelux and Switzerland, and Professor Myroslav Marynovych, a leading moral authority in Ukraine, are respectively President and vice-Rector of the Catholic University of Lviv. With the support of Aid to the Church in Need, they were in Brussels to update policy makers about the situation in Ukraine, the reality on the ground and the potential impact of Europe’s immediate and future policy decisions.


Journey with ACN – Ukraine

JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday newsletter which will be regularly posted to our blog.   Our weekly newsletter was designed to provide us with an opportunity to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and with some of the projects we have been able to realize together with ACN benefactors.

This week:    Ukraine


Help for the formation of Ukrainian Catholic seminarians

In 1946 Ukraine, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was forcibly dissolved by the communists. Believers were violently persecuted, and for over 40 years the Ukrainian Catholic Church – which is in communion with Rome – was only able to exist underground. In 1990 the Ukrainian Catholic Church was at last able to emerge from its catacombs.


 © ACN


In 1993 the seminary in Ternopil was able to officially resume its activities. Thanks to financial support, from ACN among others, it became possible to build a seminary, named in memory of the great Cardinal Confessor, Josyf Slipyj, who endured 18 years imprisonment under the communists and finally died in 1984, in exile. He was a friend of Father Werenfried, who did everything possible to help and support the Ukrainian Catholic Church throughout its time of persecution.


Today the Ternopil Seminary boasts the formation of 143 seminarians. It not only serves the local diocese, but also seminarians from other dioceses that do not have their own seminary. The young men receive an excellent academic formation, but the rector is well aware that study alone does not necessarily produce good priests. Consequently the seminarians are encouraged to become familiar with everyday pastoral work, through a series of practical training sessions and tasks, which help them to have direct experience with the life and problems of ordinary people.


They work particularly with children and young people, helping them to draw nearer to Jesus both in play and in prayer. As a result, they not only gain practical experience in the parish apostolate and in dealing with other people, but through their commitment provide a vital service, for in many regions where the Church is still only in its early beginnings, the few priests who are available are so overstretched that they simply do not have the time for such intensive ministry among all the groups of the faithful. Thus, these seminarians are already serving the faithful today where one day, after completing their training, they will fill an even more urgent need as priests.


ACN is helping the seminary in its work with a contribution of $760 per seminarian, per year.