This is an update from Jarosław Krawiec, OP, that was sent today, March 3. While the situation is depressing, the faith of the Dominicans and others who have done so much to sustain the faith of the people is amazing.
March 3, 2022
The Depressing Shame of War
Dear sisters and dear brothers,
Yesterday we brothers of Ukraine received a link to some short video clips prepared by the ministry of vocations of the Polish Dominican Province. You can see them here: https://www.youtube.com/c/dominikaniepowolania. “You cannot even imagine how much you live in the hearts of every one of us, and particularly in my own,” Brother Mykyta Janusz, a Dominican novice from Ukraine, told us in Ukrainian.
We would like to thank you, our brothers and sisters, not only from Poland but also from Rome, Bologna, Australia, USA, and Taiwan, for these important words of support. Misha Romaniv asked me to tell you that yesterday evening he was very depressed by this whole situation.
Intense fighting for the towns located in the vicinity of Fastiv was taking place. The targets of the attacks, among others, were Makariv and Borodyanka — I would pass by those towns frequently when I went with him and volunteers from Fastiv on the way to Warsaw. We would almost always stop in Borodyanka at the gas station OKKO to have our morning coffee and a hot dog.
The Shame of Destruction
Now the city is in ruins — it’s heartbreaking to look at pictures of familiar places. And it was then in this psychologically difficult moment that the medicine for the soul was the words of the brothers. “They lifted my spirit, dispelled the sadness and doubt,” said Misha. Some people from Makariv protected their lives by escaping to Fastiv.
Father Wojciech Giertych, the Theologian of the Papal Household, a citizen of the Vatican and above all our great friend, very much involved in the mission of the Order in Ukraine for over 30 years, said: “Now we need to think not about the present but about the future. We have to be preparing places for people that will offer them formation for internal freedom. Not only the freedom ‘from’ but the freedom ‘to’ as Father Pinckaers told us.”
The Hope of the Future
He is right! Anyway, he taught us the same thing during our theological formation in Krakow. We must not stop at “today,” but we need to look to the future. This is the task that is facing those of you in Poland who received under your roofs the war refugees from Ukraine. Think already about your future together with them! Do not wait for the end of the war.
We would like to thank our sisters and brothers from many countries around the world for your words, your prayers, and your help. We are not always capable of responding, but please be assured that you are in our hearts. Both we and Ukraine need you. Throughout the night in Kyiv there were some explosions caused by the rocket attack on the city. One rocket hit in the vicinity of the railway station; the other apparently fell not far from our priory.
The Hope of Miracles
The mayor of Kyiv told us in his report to the people that nobody died. It is a miracle! The only significant damage was inflicted on the heating main, which is now being rebuilt by the city services. This is very important because it is still pretty cold; in the morning we had a small snow shower and the temperature at noon was only 1 °C. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like it’s going to get warmer in the coming days. In our priory, everything is working properly so far.
Yesterday in the afternoon, I went to the hospital to offer my service. The first of the hospitals located in our neighborhood was closed. It was evacuated somewhere. The second one, a large regional hospital, is open and gathers many people with injuries from the war. I know this place because I was there last year with my broken leg.
This time, when I was approaching the emergency room in my white habit, I was spotted by two police men. They were carrying weapons and confronted me immediately. I showed them my documents and the backpack with all the “priestly paraphernalia”. The two gentlemen inquired in detail about the purpose of my visit. At the end I left my telephone number and the information that I am a Catholic priest and can be here at any moment if anyone requires my ministry. So far I haven’t heard back from them.
It seems to me that in Ukraine and especially in Kyiv, the presence of a priest among the sick is not very popular; although, in some hospitals they have chapels, obviously Orthodox. The defense of the city fulfills its duty with great precision. They are cautious, and they really watch for the safety of the people and buildings under their care.
The Hope of a Candidate of the Order
In the morning I got news from Nikita, the candidate to the Order who lives in Kharkiv: “The whole night, 12 hours, we spent in the subway station. The covers were closed. [Covers are the huge steel gates protecting stations, probably left over from the Cold War.] We didn’t get home until 6 in the morning. We rested a little. This night was very difficult for my parents. I’m starting to be a little sorry that I took them to the underground.”
The Shame of War Crimes
Maybe there is no need to be sorry since the rocket hit, among others, the neighboring apartment building. The place where he lives with his parents is just a typical residential area. There is no strategically important object within the vicinity. War crimes like this are now becoming frequent.
Another day brings new destruction, but also growing exhaustion among people. Even this morning, one of the older ladies who lives with us in the priory suddenly didn’t feel well. We got scared that she might be having a stroke. Luckily we have a doctor among us, and she could help the older woman. The chances of calling an ambulance right now are zero. We were advised on the phone to possibly bring her to the closest medical point, but we decided that they would not help us much. It is so good that we have a “guardian angel” — a young doctor who knows what to do.
The Shame for the Elderly
Not all the seniors however have such a comfortable situation in our cities and villages torn by war. Particularly difficult is the situation of the sick and people with limited mobility. Just going to the shelter or the basement prove to be impossible tasks for them, and shopping is similar, not to mention with their general psychological and physical conditions.
The Hope of Volunteers
Here volunteers are showing their value. Many people in Kyiv got involved in this kind of service, and the whole network is gradually becoming more efficient. Many fathers from our community, as well as lay people seeking shelter in the priory, got involved in this kind of work. Yesterday Father Alexander purchased 200 loaves of bread in the bakery, and today through the network of city volunteers, they were distributed to the people in need.
Let me finish with the words of Psalm 44 from today’s Office of Readings. This is a message for today from Olga, a student of our Institute of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Kyiv and a Lay Dominican. She lives in a distant neighborhood of Kyiv, unfortunately too far for her to come to Mass in our chapel. Previously, she used to attend Mass daily.
Not in my bow do I trust,
nor does my sword bring me victory.
You have brought us victory over our enemies,
shamed those who hate us.
In God we have boasted all the day long;
your name we will praise forever.
The reaction of the world to what is happening can truly be described as the enormous “shaming of those who hate us.” But even more shaming is the voice of the war orphans and those who lost their lives. May they rest in eternal peace.
With warmest greetings and the request for prayer!
Jarosław Krawiec OP,
Kyiv, March 3, 2022, 4pm
Account Name: Polska Prowincja Zakonu Kaznodziejskiego O.O. Dominikanów
Address: ul. Freta 10, 00-227 Warszawa, Polska
Bank: BNP PARIBAS BANK POLSKA S.A.
Address of bank: 2, Kasprzaka str., Warsaw, Poland
Branch Code: 16000003
Account Numbers (IBAN):
PL 03 1600 1374 1849 2174 0000 0033 (PLN)
PL 73 1600 1374 1849 2174 0000 0034 (USD)
PL 52 1600 1374 1849 2174 0000 0024 (EUR)
SWIFT code (BIC code): PPABPLPK
With the note: “War in Ukraine”
The Friar will continue to post updates as we receive them.