As the war continues to rage in Ukraine, many families fleeing from active warfare have landed in Kosów, Poland, about 500 miles from the Ukraine border. Felician Sisters there have been running a humanitarian aid center at the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary, serving both internally displaced persons and the armed forces of Ukraine. As of mid-January, nearly a year into the war, they have helped about 4400 families, or about 20,000 individuals who have passed through this center.
Additionally, the sisters have helped 215 different institutions that care for both children and adults — including hospitals for premature infants, schools, military hospitals, and orphanages — with donations of food, medicine, and supplies.
During the last couple of months, the weather has been a particular challenge, with severe frosts followed by sudden thaws. Along with daily power outages, the sisters have heard many tragic stories of seriously wounded soldiers enduring frostbite, amputation of limbs, and death. The sisters have redoubled their efforts to help, by collecting warm clothing and footwear to support the military units, many of whom come from their own city and region.
They are grateful for the support and friendship of the Felician Sisters of North America, and they continue to ask for prayers. Sr. Maria Michalina Dobry writes, “On behalf of all those whom we serve, I ask for prayers: for those who died during the war, for those seriously wounded, and especially for those who were taken prisoner, as well as for the families directly affected by suffering.”
About 400 miles away, in Zablotów, Ukraine, the sisters have endured multiple bombings and frequent air raids in addition to regular power outages. Srs. Maria Marlena Mierzwa and Maria Malvina Neustrojeva write to their American sisters, “Thank you for the priceless gift of prayer, because thanks to it, bombs do not explode.” They describe a New Year’s attack nearby, when a rocket fell into a residential building and did not explode. They credit prayers for this miracle.
The Felician Sisters help the refugees, the sick, and the elderly, with gifts of prayer, food, clothing, and medicines. Recently, 28 elderly and sick people from Zaporizhzhia, in southeast Ukraine, were brought to Zablotów. Bedridden and needing round-the-clock care, they do not have any loved ones nearby, so the sisters visit them. The sisters bring love and joy into the lives of these people who are otherwise forgotten, making sure that they know that God loves them and has not abandoned them.
Despite the war, the kindergarten and catechesis programs continue to operate, with prayers for peace at the start of each day. At Christmas, the sisters prepared the churches with nativity scenes and decorations, to bring hope during a difficult time. They even managed to prepare a nativity play for children and parents. “God was born on ruins in Ukraine this year,” they said. “But we know that he is with us and will never leave us.”
Sisters Maria Marlena and Maria Malvina share this message with the Felician Sisters of North America: “We pray for peace and ask the sisters to pray for this intention without ceasing. We join you every day with our hearts, and your presence gives us the courage and strength to serve the people of Ukraine.”