Info & News
Divine Word Missionaries from Ukraine are with their people
Early in the morning of Thursday, February 24, Russian troops invaded independent Ukraine and the
war began. The military action immediately caused a huge wave of refugees to move to neighboring
As of March 3, 2022, more than one million people have left Ukraine so far, according to estimates.
Poland is hosting the largest number of refugees. Over the past week, more than half a million
people have already crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border. Most of them are Ukrainians, but there is
no shortage of refugees from Africa and Asia, who mainly started their studies there.
Poland has been actively involved in helping people escaping war from the very beginning. The
biggest Polish humanitarian organizations, including Caritas Polska, run relief actions. Ordinary
people all over the country are also helping by organizing donations of the most necessary
equipment, medicines, and food. Such donations are held in schools and parishes.
Refugees are distributed practically all over the country to locations where temporary accommodation
has been prepared for them. Very often, individuals arrive in cars to take 1 or 2 families to their
homes. Companies send free coaches to bring more people to different places in the country.
The Polish government is also very active in helping refugees. Additional hospital beds and
accommodation centers are being set up. There is a website where refugees and those who are ready to
help them can find all necessary information. For train journeys in Poland, Ukrainians do not need
to buy tickets. The Ministry of Health has decided to cover refugees legally crossing the border
under the normal health care system. This includes the refunding of medicines. The Ministry of
Family and Social Welfare is working on a solution to pay benefits to those most in need.
The present situation of the Divine Word Missionaries in Ukraine
The Ukrainian SVD District belongs to the Polish Province. Our confreres have been working there
since 1992 of 20 century. At present there are 2 conferees in Ukraine. Both are working in the
western part of the country. Fr. Wojciech Żółty SVD is a parish priest in Verboviec (Vinnica Region)
and Fr. Adam Kruczyński SVD in Struga (Khmelnytsky Region). Despite the very difficult situation,
they remain with their people and organize all the necessary help.
– It did not even cross our minds to leave. We only thought of what to do to be with the people and
how to help them – says Fr. Żółty, who is also the District superior.
The day-to-day situation in the region of Verboviec is tense, but relatively stable. The village
lies near the border with Moldova, about 300 kilometers in a straight line southwest of Kiev. This
area of Ukraine is fairly quiet, as there are no military or strategic infrastructure complexes. The
roads are essentially empty now, with only the occasional few cars passing. Traffic jams form at
checkpoints, as police check every car.
In Verboviec, rooms were adapted as a matter of urgency, normally used during summer camps for
children and youth, which can accommodate a total of 50 people.
– At the moment (March 3, 2022) I have three families – 16 people altogether, who will probably stay
longer. We have enough supplies, we are not lacking anything for the time being – says Fr. Żółty.
When asked about the atmosphere among the people he stressed that he had never seen such pain and
sadness in his life.
– Many residents of our village work in Kiev and their families stayed there because they could not
get out – he says. – Unfortunately, the son of one of my parishioners was killed in the war, who
went to the army after graduation. He was my altar boy.
Parish in Verboviec receives refugees from Kiev, Kharkiv, Donetsk. Some of the families stay for a
longer time and some look for another place for themselves among the family.
– What scares me the most is their sadness, their anxiety. All the time they are looking for their
families, looking for their loved ones, whether they are still alive, whether they are safe – says
Fr. Żółty. – There are difficulties with access to medicines. In stores there is a lack of basic
foodstuffs like pasta, sugar, salt, or some groats. There is no fuel left at the petrol stations.
Not only Catholics, but also Orthodox live in the parish of Vierboviec.
– We pray together. We meet every day for Mass, the rosary, the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
and we pray together – adds Fr. Wojciech. – You can see the devotion of these people who pray for
their families and the whole Ukraine as well as for those who died. First of all, we ask for prayer
because prayer is the most important thing for us now.
O. Adam Kruczynski SVD works at a parish in Struga, Khmelnytsky District, about a dozen kilometers
northwest of Vieboviec. He reports that there is no immediate threat of fighting in his parish. The
territorial defense has asked that the church bells be used only when there is a threat of shooting.
– The people are very grateful that we have stayed with them – says Fr. Adam and admits that since
the outbreak of the war very many people have attended daily services. – Earlier the Covid pandemic
made the church deserted, but now people are very much present. They are looking for spiritual
support in this dramatic situation.
The parish in Struga is very small and does not have the capacity to take in refugees, but it
actively works with the local authorities who have prepared places for people in need of shelter.
The Mission Office in Pieniężno has launched a collection of funds to help Ukraine. In the near
future the Mission Houses of the Polish Province will declare their willingness to accept refugees
Contact person: Fr. Andrzej Danilewicz SVD, Mission Secretary of POL
(email@example.com, +48 691 457