Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we accompany the development of the situation in Ukraine, our hearts go out to the people that are suffering the consequences of what is happening. While it’s difficult to understand what is really going on there due to heavy political media manipulation on both sides, the humanitarian crisis is undeniable. I have had the privilege to hear the testimonies of some people who are on the front lines, both from clergy but also from parishioners in Ukraine.
One of these testimonies is from Father Lucas Perozzi. He is from Brazil and he was sent to the Redemptoris Mater in Kyiv on the same occasion in which my brother went to Denver in 2003. He did all his seminary formation in Ukraine and was ordained in 2013. Similar to my brother and I, he also has a brother in the same country who is also becoming a priest. Indeed, Fr. Lucas was with his brother taking some classes in the Western part of Ukraine when the war broke out. While he was discerning what to do, he saw that God was calling him back to his parish when a family of parishioners reached out to him asking for shelter. Then he knew exactly what to do. When his mother asked him to return home to Brazil, he answered that he was already home over there. Now he and his pastor have welcomed 35 people, including five children, in the basement of the church that serves as a bunker. His mission according to him is to remain there to testify that God is still there and God is still working, in spite of all that is happening. He said, “God is here in the middle of all the disaster, and God is still good.” In the Church besides giving shelter and food, they also pray, celebrate mass, as you can see in the picture below. There are other people who have remained in their houses, and the priests are visiting them bringing them communion and being there with them. On an interview with the Vatican Radio he said that even though he is weak, a coward, a sinner, but God is giving him such a grace to be happy in the middle of the war. On another interview he said that he has been a soldier since he became a priest, waging a war against the selfishness that truly separates people from each other. His words were “the war is an exterior expression to what is happening in our hearts, the division that happens every day.” Like Father Lucas, there are also other priests who are doing the same work with the people who are still in their homes. Other places, like Uzhhorod, very close to the border of Hungary, the seminarians are going out each day to aid and give food to a multitude of refugees that pass through there each day. Besides tending to their physical needs, they also provide them comfort by announcing God’s love.
They have been able to provide assistance to those in need only because of the support of many other people across the world by prayer and financial help. They are asking the donations to be sent to their bank account in Poland (to avoid all the trouble of the banking system in Ukraine and thefts). Then lay people of the Neocatechumenal Way there purchase all the medical supplies and food, since they cannot be found in Ukraine, they drive to the border of the two countries, where they pass on the provisions to other people until it arrives in the parishes of Kyiv. Therefore, here in the parish, we will collect money to be sent to these people in need in a way that it will certainly arrive to them, very quickly, and safely. We will have a SECOND COLLECTION next Sunday (maintenance and development will be postponed), we also have YELLOW ENVELOPES labeled “For the People of Ukraine”, anyone can also WRITE CHECKS and be given to the office with memo “Ukraine”. For those who have ONLINE GIVING, you will be able to log in and make donations directly from your account. If someone prefers to use their CREDIT CARD, you can come to the parish office make your contribution with Lee Ann.
The parish will collect all these funds donated and make a wire transfer directly to them. Please rest assured that 100% of all the money collected will go to directly to the people in need.
Father Steven Clemence