The Dominican brothers in Ukraine are earnestly looking up to heaven for peace in their country and they are asking us all to join them in prayers.
The Dominican Vicariate of Russia and Ukraine has a total of 5 communities; Kiev, Lviv, Yalta, Czortków and Fastowie. The Polish brother, fr Jacek Dudek is the Vicar General and he resides in Kiev, the hotspot of the current disturbances in the country.
The brothers join the people every day at the square and some of them even spend the night there. They go to the square with their stoles to lead the people in praying the rosary for peace. The brothers also render other forms of support to the protesters. Fr Petro Balog has become an informal chaplain to one of the group of protesters. He gave them souvenir cards with the picture of St Michael the Archangel, the patron of Ukraine and Kiev and with the inscription, “St Michael the Archangel, defend us”.
According to the brothers, Tuesday, February 18 was a day of great pain and helplessness for them. The makeshift chapel they were using at the square to pray and render support to the protesters was burnt down. Despite all these, the brothers did not back down. While praying and sharing with the protesters, they were conscious of the fact that snipers where still shooting at people.
Reporting on the situation on Friday, 21st of February, fr Dudek said, “Today Kiev was quiet. I didn't want to believe that yesterday's nightmare was real. It was a very, very difficult moment for the people here in the evening, as they bid farewell to those killed as their bodies were carried round the square in open coffins. We need a lot of prayers. This is just the beginning of a difficult road which we have to pass ... Oremus ...”
At Lviv, the brothers have started what they called a “Prayer Revolution” with the theme, “Trust in God, Repentance and Forgiveness”. Prayer booklets were printed and it spread like wild fire all over the city and on the internet. The prayer is a call to trust in God even in the midst of the economic and political difficulties, a call for repentance and the forgiveness of the sins of the nation and personal sins and a call to forgive enemies.
Dominicans have been in Lviv since 1270, since the beginning of the history of the city. They have two communities and Churches; Corpus Christi and St Mary Magdalene. Although they were expelled from the city in 1946, they were welcomed back into the city in 2010 by the Metropolitan of Lviv of the Latin Rite, Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki.
Although Lviv is not physically affected by the protest, the emotional impact is nationwide. The news coming from Kiev is disheartening especially for those with loved ones over there. In this situation, the brothers continue to comfort the people and renew their hope.
According to fr James Gonciarz, Ukraine has never been as united in pray as it is now. In the past three months, churches and temples have been kept open and people have been trooping in day and night to pray for a peaceful and just transition in their country. Many view the political problem from a spiritual point of view. Therefore, most of the churches, Catholic and Protestant, have asked their members to undertake fasting on bread and water for peace in the land.
The current situation in Ukraine has transformed many people not only spiritually. There is a profound spirit of generosity in the air and this is evident in the generosity expressed during fundraising, donation of cloths and medicine for the needy. Suddenly, the events at the square have changed the perspective of many. Now, they discover that they have dignities as individual, a common good as a people and they need to take care of this common good and even fight for it.
Despite the positive reaction of Ukrainian Christians to their situation, they are calling on us all to join them in praying for peace in their country. The Dominican family is hereby called upon to pray for our brothers and the entire people of Ukraine.
(22 February 2014)