The Patriarch of the UGCC pays a several-day visit to Odesa
This is reported by the Information Department of the UGCC.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav is accompanied by his personal secretary Fr Oleg Oleksa, patriarchal economist father Lubomir Jaworski, and editor of the Catholic news agency (Poland) Krzysztof Tomaszyk.
On the first day of the visit, on October 15, the head of the UGCC met with the chairman of the Odessa regional military administration Maxim Marchenko and the chairman of the Odessa regional council Grigory Didenko, as well as with the acting deputy mayor of Odessa Oleg Bryndak. His Eminence Mykhailo Bubny, Exarch of the Odessa UGCC, and father Vasyl Kolodchin, director of the charity foundation "Caritas Odessa", took part in meetings with representatives of local authorities.
During the meetings with representatives of local authorities, Patriarch Sviatoslav tried to find out the needs of the affected residents of Odesa and the region in order to help them according to the Church's capabilities.
While in Odessa, His Beatitude Sviatoslav visited the charity foundation "Caritas Odessa". The director of Caritas, Fr Vasyl Kolodchin, introduced his team to the head of the UGCC, in particular the heads of charitable projects. Therefore, the Primate met with internally displaced children who are taken care of by the Center for Children and Families of Odessa Caritas. The children demonstrated to the head of the church their skills in making trench candles.
Another moment of the first day of the visit of the head of the UGCC to Odessa was a meeting with volunteers at the coordination humanitarian headquarters of the Odessa region. His Beatitude Sviatoslav was congratulated by Chief of Staff Oleksiy Chorny, who told him about the humanitarian situation and volunteer activities in the Odesa region.
The head of the UGCC expressed respect and gratitude to the Odesa volunteers for their service on behalf of the entire UGCC. Then he said that at the beginning of a full-scale war, the Church found itself on three fronts: spiritual, informational and humanitarian.
"Each of our parishes — whether in occupied Kherson or in the Kharkiv region or Donetsk region-immediately turned into a humanitarian hub. On the one hand, we tried to deliver humanitarian aid, and on the other hand, to help people evacuate if necessary."
His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted that Russia's current war in Ukraine will have great consequences for the Ukrainian people in the future, but today we need to think about how to help internally displaced persons. The head of the Church thanked the Odessa volunteers for the fact that the charitable structures of the UGCC in Odessa are part of their humanitarian headquarters: "Thank you for joining together and scaling up our work together, exchanging information and working together."
At the end of the first day of his stay in Odessa, Patriarch Sviatoslav led a large vespers service in the Cathedral Church of the Odessa Exarchate, where clergy, monasticism, Children, Youth, Knights of Columbus, and internally displaced persons gathered for the service. The prayer was also attended by hearing-impaired parishioners, for whom sign language interpretation was provided during the service.
"When I last visited you, I could not have imagined that the next time I would come to you during the war," the head of the UGCC said, addressing the faithful.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav said that he associates the word "war" with the face of a tearful woman today: "When someone says 'war' to me, I see before my eyes a tearful woman — a woman-a mother who accompanies her son or daughter to the front; a tearful mother who has lost her son; a tearful mother who has to break out of her seat with her child; a tearful woman who is storming Europe and other countries of the world today to take care of a temporary shelter for herself and her child while the father is fighting at the front. A tearful woman is an image of Ukraine during the war."
In these military circumstances, the Church, The Primate stressed, must give people hope. And the Church has this hope, which none of the people can give to Ukrainians today. This is the word of hope of the Gospel of Christ.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted that looking at the face of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the West, in the center of Ukraine, in the Kharkiv region, Sumy region, Chernihiv region, and now Odesa region, he sees in her a mother who hugs her children, who warms, saves, in whose arms the child ceases to be afraid.
"I want to thank you," the Primate said, addressing the clergy and faithful of the Odessa Exarchate, "for being such a mother hen who warms... Blessed is the people who have such a loving Mother Church, who will not condemn, punish, but will understand and forgive, accept and warm."
His Eminence, Mykhailo Bubny, thanked Patriarch Svyatoslav for his visit and especially for his time and desire to be with his faithful in such a difficult time.
"The echoes of your words 'Ukraine stands, Ukraine fights, Ukraine prays' give us the strength to fight on different fronts, to stand firmly and firmly in faith in our victory, "said the Exarch of Odessa. "May the Lord God generously bless you for your further service, give you strength, health, and inspiration, so that you can do much more for the good of our church, the Ukrainian people, and for the glory of God for many and good summers."
After Vespers, the head of the UGCC met with internally displaced persons and personally distributed them assistance from the patriarchal Foundation "Mudra Sprava".
It is worth noting that since the beginning of the war, this foundation has already transferred more than 10,000 food packages, which were distributed to displaced persons through logistics centers opened in almost every parish of the Odessa Exarchate of the UGCC in four southern regions of Ukraine, including in the occupied Kherson region.