Breaking News from Jarosław Krawiec, OP. This is a letter from a Dominican friar who is currently stationed in Ukraine. We have received updates from he before that we have posted here. We will continue to provide updates as the become available.
Dear sisters and dear brothers,
Another day of war. The seventh day not of creation but destruction. Increasing brutality, relentless and terrible. At the same time I am deeply convinced that when God looks at these good, helping, selfless people, at the vastness of love, he can see that what he made was very good (Gen 1:31). Today is Ash Wednesday and Lent begins. Father Peter, our Bible scholar, burned a small bonfire on the terrace, so we have new ashes.
Last night we were scared by the rocket attack on the TV tower located close to us. I already mentioned that. It is in our neighborhood. I saw a picture of the killed passersby. They were walking on the sidewalk that I use frequently. Perhaps in that very place I was waiting in my car on Thursday in the line for fuel. This location is the border of Babi Yar, the place of a horrible genocide of the inhabitants of Kyiv, mostly Jewish, murdered by the Nazis in 1941. The president of Ukraine said that history is starting to repeat itself.
The people living with us in the priory are starting to actively participate in the volunteer activities of the city. Father Thomas drove a couple of them to distant locations in Kyiv. It takes a lot of courage. One must drive through multiple checkpoints, show documents, open the trunk. On his way back with one of the ladies yesterday, they drove past Babi Yar. That was exactly where, minutes earlier, rockets hit the ground. Today he refueled the tank on the way.
This morning Father Misha Romaniv called from Fastiv. He was very happy because the bus that left yesterday with over fifty people, mostly children and their mothers, successfully reached Poland. “They are sitting on the Polish side and drinking coffee,” he said. May news like this come as much as possible.
Sister Anastasia reached Fastiv safely yesterday, while carrying a bread oven from the east side of Kyiv. Nobody wanted to go, but her trip took her only an hour and a half. It’s a record in this situation. Even in normal times it would be a great feat because, due to the heavy traffic, the trip used to take much longer. This morning she drove back carrying fresh bread to Kyiv.
We were given another bread oven in Fastiv from our Italian friend Luccio. His pizzeria in Vinnytsia cannot function now, so without hesitation he told us to take all of the equipment. May it serve well. Thanks to it, we can make 300 loaves of bread daily for the territorial guards. Other friends from Vinnytsia delivered two tons of flour.
Today I would like to write a little about our two bishops. I mentioned in my previous letters Bishop Vitalij from Kyiv who stays in the city. The other bishop from Kyiv, Alexander, went to Zhytomyr to be present in the western part of the diocese, populated by many catholics. It was a wise decision. Today we talked on the phone. Zhytomyr was under heavy bombardment, and many people found shelter in the basements of the churches. I saw some moving photos that Bishop Alexander posted on his Facebook: people saying the rosary in a couple-hundred-year-old basement of the church. It looks like the catacombs.
I managed to have a conversation with Bishop Paul of Kharkiv. The situation there is very difficult and dangerous. We saw in the news last night that the central square of the city was bombed. Not far from that square is where the cathedral and catholic curia are located. Luckily the blast of the explosion only damaged a couple of windows and some stained glass. It also damaged part of the roof of the curia where the bishop lives. Bishop Paul himself was just returning from our priory when that happened. Father Irenaeus had evacuated some parishioners earlier from there to Zakarpattia. A number of people asked, however, to stay behind with us. By the advice of the bishop who helped them to find transportation, they have just left. Brave Kirill has left too. It is a wise decision in this situation!
Yesterday a rocket hit a school building located a couple hundred meters from the priory. The bishop called to tell us that he locked our house and asked who owns the white cat. He let it out — we hope that the poor animal will somehow manage, because no one knows when we are returning home. In our situation it’s a little awkward to ask somebody: are you staying or leaving? Bishop Paul himself told us at some point that he’s not going anywhere. He will stay in his diocese. He believes deeply in the victory of the Truth and the Immaculate! He is a very experienced man. Pope Francis has nominated as bishop this priest who had previously traveled to the front lines in Donbas and served as a military chaplain. Good and brave shepherds!
Dear friends, I would like to end today with the words of Saint Paul, “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 5, 20-21).
Today I’m sending this letter earlier because I’m going to the nearby hospital. Maybe they need a priest. Let’s see if they let me in.
With warmest greetings, pray for us and Ukraine.
Jarosław Krawiec OP,
Kyiv, March 2, 2022, 1:30pm
This is the latest update from a Dominican friar in Ukraine. The Friar will provide updates as often as we receive them. Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers during this time of needless violence and destruction.