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'The grace of the Lord is greater than the horror of war': The young men training for ministry in Ukraine

by Will Hobbs
Ukraine-WAr-Feb2017-body_galleryfull.jpg - Banner image

Seminary leaders in Ukraine are continually striving to be God's salt and light in Ukraine.  

Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which has helped establish all eight Catholic seminaries in the country, says almost all of the leaders have lost brothers, friends and fathers in the fighting, but have a ''spark in they're eye'' as they care for the broken.

ACN's Amy Balog visited Ukraine at the end of 2023. She told Premier Christian News she was most inspired by the way the Church is caring for orphaned children evacuated from the front line.

"These children are the future I have of this country that has been so devastated by the war. And speaking to catechists and other volunteers offering pastoral care, priests, religious sisters, you can see in their eyes that this really gives purpose to their existence as well. And just having someone who  needs their help, who needs them to be there, drives them and keeps them going as well and helps them get through each day which is you know, on a daily basis, life is very, very difficult in this country."

Vitali, a Greek Catholic seminarian from Kyiv, told ACN 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 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 has 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.”


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