Society Matters | Volume 32 No. 3 | Spring 2022

3 Volume 32 No. 3 | Spring 2022 Society Matters ‘It didn’t even occur to us to leave’ – Missionaries stand with the people of Ukraine The Divine Word Missionaries in Ukraine have stayed with their people since the Russian aggression began on February 24, organising help, food and shelter for those in need and continuing to celebrate the sacraments. “It didn’t even occur to us to leave,” said the local District Superior Father Wojciech Zółty SVD in an interview with Vatican Radio. “All we could think about was what we needed to do to be with the people, and how we could help them.” Fr Wojciech is one of two SVD missionaries currently working in Ukraine. The Divine Word Missionaries urgently transformed their retreat centre in the southern part of Ukraine into a home for people escaping the war. “We have welcomed refugees from Kiev, Kharkiv, and Donetsk and they stay with us here at the Centre,” he said. “Some families stay longer, while others look for a place to stay among their family members. “What scares me most is the sadness that I have witnessed, the profound despair. They spend all their time searching for their families and loved ones, trying to find out if they are still alive and are safe.” Also in Ukraine is Fr Adam Kruczynski SVD, who is working at a parish in Struga. Fr Adam said the Russian aggression came as a big surprise to everyone. “This aggression is conducted in an inhuman way. In spite of all difficulties and inhuman oppression the Ukrainian nation fights for its freedom and independence in an heroic way,” he said in an April SVD video interview. “Our SVD parishes are situated approximately 450km east from the border with Poland. Thank God, where we work, life goes on in a more or less normal way, so we have more opportunities to help others.” Fr Adam said that the refugees from Kiev and other eastern Ukrainian towns and villages who are staying at the SVD retreat centre had fled for their lives. “These people escaped from their homes, leaving almost everything behind them,” he said. “That’s why the urgent needs of these people are the basic hygiene products, some clothing, food, and first of all, a roof over their heads, which we try to provide for them.” Holy Spirit Sister Lucyna Grzasko also stayed on in Kiev when the war broke out, continuing with her ministry working in radio. “I have been in Ukraine for 30 years and that is why as a missionary I could not leave people in need. They are in my heart,” she wrote for the Arnoldus Nota. Meanwhile, in Poland, the SVD is also receiving refugees from Ukraine in their mission houses in Chludowo, Krynica, Morska, Lublin, Nysa and Warsaw. “They are mainly mothers with children,” said the Polish Province’s Mission Secretary Fr Andrzej Danilewicz SVD in the latest edition of Arnoldus Nota, the news publication of the SVD generalate. “We will do our best to host them as long as they need.”