Local Ukrainian Catholics’ messages of faith and resilience
“With our faith, it’s just getting up and getting on with it,” according to Irena, a member of Canberra’s Ukrainian Catholic community.
A parishioner at St Volodymyr’s Ukrainian Catholic Church at Lyneham, she was reflecting last weekend on what Pope Francis described as the “sad anniversary” of the invasion of Ukraine launched one year ago.
The grandmother of sixteen was born in Ukraine and came to Australia as a child in 1949. She still has family in her former homeland.
“They’re coping,” Irena told the Catholic Voice following Sunday’s liturgy at St Volodymyr’s. “They’re staying quiet and not rattling the gates”.
“Initially when the war broke out I was able to send them some money. I think what they do is they help each other out like they always have.”
Her relatives would hear the sirens at night and know bombings were taking place but for them “life just goes on”.
“Ukraine is one of these countries that has faith in God and Christianity and Ukrainians somehow bounce back,” Irena said.
Marcus, another parishioner, has family links to both Ukraine and Belarus.
“I wanted to be able to help and express support in some way,” he said of his decision to become a St Volodymyr’s parishioner.
“It’s a small community but you can sense everyone is praying for a peaceful conclusion to the war. It’s important we stay in solidarity with Ukraine.”
Parishioner Jarek told the Catholic Voice he has a first cousin who is a priest in Ukraine. “Watching the news it’s unbelievable to see what’s taking place in the 21st century,” he said.
“[But] we are very blessed to live in a peaceful country such as Australia. Our hearts and thoughts are with people in Ukraine.”
St Volodymyr’s parish priest Fr Wally Kalinecki said he had provided support to a few families from Ukraine who had settled in Canberra.
“They are very resilient,” he said. “But deep down, you know, they are saddened. They are worried about their loved ones left behind.
“They’re very glad to be in Australia and very grateful to the country for taking them in.
“I remember just after the war started our church was packed with Australian folks who had come to pray with us. It was very moving and uplifting,” he said.
First names have been used in this story for privacy reasons.