Nights 480-486 – Br. Błażej letters

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War

Night 480

June 19, 2023 – Vinnitsa – In the midst of the ongoing war in Ukraine, life goes on for its citizens. Despite the rocket fire from the Black Sea in the eastern regions, Vinnitsa remains relatively calm. The people of Ukraine are yearning for a just peace and an end to the conflict.

Amidst the chaos, moments of inspiration and hope emerge. Recently, four soldiers from the national guard were honored with medals for their bravery.

Khmelnitsky – The “Train to Victory” arrived in Khmelnitsky, bringing displaced persons from the sunken areas of Kherson. The arrival of these individuals serves as a reminder of the impact the war has had on innocent lives, displacing families and communities.

Italy/Belarus – Br. Francesco, a Capuchin friar, was consecrated as a diocesan bishop in Italy. Witnessing this special moment was Br. Sergej, the custos from Belarus.

Rivne – The celebration of St. Anthony of Padua was marked by a special event in Rivne. A commemorative plaque was unveiled and dedicated to Fr. Seraphim Kashuba, who served as the pastor of the church dedicated to the Nativity of the Mother of God and St. Anthony of Padua from 1945 until its closure by communist authorities in 1958. The ceremony honored Fr. Seraphim’s unwavering commitment to his parishioners and the enduring faith of the community.

Father’s Day – Ukraine celebrated Father’s Day, a day dedicated to honoring fathers and father figures.

Krasilow – Another successful “School of Mary” session concluded in Krasilow. Participants expressed gratitude for the positive impact of the “School,” a testament to the power of faith and community in challenging times.

Night 481

June 20, 2023 – The night brought unrest and destruction as the war in Ukraine escalated. Cities across the country were targeted, leaving a trail of devastation. Infrastructure facilities in Lviv were hit by rockets, causing fires, but no human casualties were reported. The Sumy region suffered significant damage during this fateful night, adding to the toll of the ongoing conflict. The people of Ukraine yearn for a just peace amid the chaos and destruction.

Amidst the darkness, a Word of hope resonates. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is emphasized, highlighting his selflessness and sacrifice to enrich humanity. The Sermon on the Mount is being read in churches, reminding the faithful to love their neighbors and even their enemies and to pray for those who persecute them. This message holds particular significance for the war-torn nation of Ukraine.

Lviv – Another successful Franciscan biblical retreat has concluded, with gratitude expressed for its impact. Participants were reminded of the importance of faith and were grateful for the opportunity to gather and learn together.

Starokonstantinov – Support and promotion of Radio Maryja were carried out in the local parish, highlighting the power of communication and community during troubled times.

Kyiv – The Christian Relief Service has prepared a group of 45 individuals dedicated to helping the victims of the war. Their compassionate efforts provide much-needed support to those affected by the conflict.

Ostropol – Youth from Starokonstantinov visited the Franciscan School of Evangelization in Ostropol. This exchange of experiences and knowledge among young people fosters unity and resilience in the face of adversity.

In their reports, the brothers share their experiences and activities:

Br. Sergey Voronyuk, Lviv – The fifth Franciscan Bible Retreat on faith took place in Lviv, bringing together 19 participants. This series of retreats, made possible by the generosity of benefactors from Austria, has been a transformative journey for the young attendees.

Br. Maciej Styburski, Krasilow – A trip to Kamieniec Podolski and Chocim was organized for the children of the First Communion, accompanied by Sr. Alexandra. The excursion included visits to museums, Mass in the cathedral, and a meeting with Bishop Leon.

The School of Mary in Krasilow concluded another session, welcoming numerous participants from grades 4 to 6. The School continues to nurture the faith and spirituality of young minds, leaving a positive impact on their lives.

Night 482

June 21, 2023 – The night brought unrest and fear as alarms, drones, and rockets disrupted the peace in Vinnitsa and Lviv. The people of Ukraine continue to pray for a just peace amidst the ongoing conflict that plagues their daily lives.

In times of turmoil, the Word offers solace and guidance. The message emphasizes the significance of generosity and joy in giving, encouraging individuals to follow their hearts without coercion or regret. Psalm 112 reinforces the blessings that come to those who serve the Lord and find joy in His commandments. The “Sermon on the Mount” teachings are seen as a path toward true Christianity that leads to peace and fulfillment.

Amidst the war, Ukraine faces challenges with its infrastructure. The poor state of power grids and excessive power consumption has led to planned power cuts in various cities, similar to those experienced during the winter months.

Khmelnitsky – Brother Leonid Kushniruk, the regional assistant of the Secular Franciscan Order, continues to teach online, emphasizing the importance of education and connection during these difficult times.

Donetsk Region – Four children were evacuated from areas heavily impacted by the war. The evacuation process was marked by careful preparation and ended with relief and gratitude.

Lviv – The feast of St. Brother Albert, the founder of the Albertine Sisters, was celebrated in unity with the Capuchins, Paulists, and Albertines. The chapel became a place of reverence and commemoration.

Br. Zbigniew Sawchuk, Lviv – An invitation is extended to a Marian night of vigil, a moment of prayer and reflection amidst the challenges of war.

Night 483

June 22, 2023 – The war night brought tragedy and loss as the conflict in Ukraine rages on. Surviving the night is a bitter reality for many, but not for all. The death toll continues to rise, claiming lives on the frontlines and in the safety of people’s apartments. In a devastating incident in Kyiv, a rocket struck a 16-story skyscraper near our brothers’ residence. Several floors were destroyed, leading to a rescue operation to search for survivors in the collapsed section of the building.

The Word offers solace and guidance during these tumultuous times. The prayer of Our Father is recited, emphasizing forgiveness and the importance of extending forgiveness to others. The faithful are reminded of the reciprocal nature of forgiveness, where they will receive forgiveness from their Heavenly Father if they forgive others. The plea for forgiveness echoes through the prayers of those affected by the war.

Croatia – Br. Jure Sarcevic expresses concern for the well-being of Br. Blazej and his brothers in Ukraine. Prayers for peace are offered daily, hoping for an end to the brutal aggression and the arrival of lasting peace.

Kyiv – Fr. Pio House engages in art therapy with children and parents, providing a creative outlet amidst the chaos of war.

Krakow – Seminarian brothers from Krakow, including Br. Mykola Shyra from the Custody of Ukraine, gather in solidarity, strengthening the bonds of brotherhood.

A war prank in the form of war makeup is shared, but the reality remains grim. As many as 11,000 women have been drafted for the war, highlighting the widespread impact and the need for prayers for peace.

Capuchins of Ukraine – A new website is launched, providing a platform for information and communication. Visitors are welcome to explore and engage with the site. https://kap.org.ua

Br. Zbigniew Sawczuk, Lviv/Stradcz – Stations of the Cross are conducted to end the war, a powerful expression of faith and hope amid adversity. Stradcz’s location holds historical significance as 24 Poles were executed during World War II.

In tragedy and loss, the belief that God is love continues to anchor the people of Ukraine. The resilience and strength displayed by the Ukrainian people and the support and prayers offered by individuals from around the world serve as a beacon of hope in the face of darkness.

Night 484

June 23, 2023 – The war night brought immense challenges as alarms sounded from the west, starting from Lviv and spanning through Starokonstantinov, Vinnitsa, Kyiv, all the way to the Dnieper and the east of Ukraine. The echoes of war reverberate throughout the nation, causing unrest and fear among its people. In the face of such adversity, the people of Ukraine pray earnestly for a just and lasting peace.

Jubilarian – Brother Kazimierz Guzik expresses gratitude to God for 32 years of priesthood, commemorating the anniversary of his ordination on June 22, 1991.

Volunteers – Joanna and Ariel, known as “angels,” visit again, bringing hope and support to those in need. Their kindness and dedication are celebrated as a reminder of the goodness found in people.

Zaporozhye – Concerns arise about the potential threat of terrorists targeting Zaporizhia’s dam and nuclear power plant on the Dnieper River. Bishop Jan Soblova of Zaporozhye calls for prayers and fasting in response to this alarming possibility.

Kyiv – Disturbing news arrives from Mrs. Luda, a Kyiv parishioner, who shares the heartbreaking disappearance of her husband, Sergei. The uncertainty surrounding his whereabouts weighs heavily on their family, and prayers are requested for their well-being and reunion. The intercession of St. Padre Pio is sought in these trying times.

Night 486

June 25, 2023 – The night brings a relatively peaceful respite, with attention turning towards Russia and the cities of Voronezh, Bielgorod, and Moscow. The people of Ukraine continue to pray fervently for peace to prevail in the midst of ongoing tensions.

The Word inspires a new song of praise, acknowledging the Lord’s deliverance of the poor from the hands of evildoers. Reflecting on the question of who the greatest enemy is, the answer lies in the teachings of Jesus, reminding us not to fear those who can harm the body but rather to fear God, who has control over the soul and body.

Amidst the war, life goes on, and glimpses of hope emerge:

Kiev – The Padre Pio House initiates the “Give Mothers Hope” project, offering support and encouragement to mothers in need. This endeavor aims to provide hope and a sense of community during challenging times.

Br. Sergey Gubitsky, Starokonstantinov – A retreat for children concludes, providing them with a meaningful and transformative experience.

Br. Leonid Kushniruk, Krasilow/Kremenchuk – The renovation project for the pigsty is underway, and the first set of ducklings has been acquired. The happiness derived from these simple steps toward progress is cherished.

Br. Leonid Kushniruk, Krasilow/Zakarpat – Houses in Seredniom are dedicated and opened to provide shelter for Volodya, Oksana, and their children who fled Pionersk due to the war. The event witnesses the presence of foreign organizations, including representatives from the Czech “Charity,” the Consul of the Slovak Republic, and the advisor to the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Mr. Eduard Burasz. The consecration is conducted by Bishop Mykola Luczok Mukacheva, with the unwavering support of Br. Leonid Kushniruk. Local authorities and the Chairman of the Transcarpathian region also participate in the ceremony, demonstrating solidarity and support.

As hope for peace persists, the people of Ukraine continue to navigate the challenges of war with resilience and unwavering faith. They strive for a brighter future through acts of kindness, community projects, and prayerful support.

From Br. Błażej letters nights 480-486
Edited by br. Igor De Bliquy
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph

Nights 472-479 – Br. Błażej letters

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, June 11-18, 2023

Amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian people exemplify remarkable resilience and unwavering faith. From the relentless nights of war to the unwavering dedication of the Capuchin brothers providing essential ministry and support, these stories shed light on the transformative power of faith and the indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people. As we explore their journeys, we witness their determination to rise above adversity, their unwavering hope for a just peace, and the profound influence of their faith in guiding them through the darkest times.

Night 472: Corpus Christi.

Another night of war means another night of alarms, drone harassment and kamikazes. Ukraine’s anti-missile systems are working, though the tragedy facing people after the Novaya Kakhovka dam’s destruction continues. Russian terrorists in the occupied territories are not helping the affected people. The help of the civilized world instead is being delivered to the flooded areas. God, grant a just peace.

The Word that God gives us through Mother Church sounds different in war than in peacetime. You shall live forever, you shall not die … You shall live! “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. The bread that I will give is My Body, given for the life of the world. As the living Father sent Me, and I live through the Father, so he who eats Me shall live through Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven — it is not like the bread that your ancestors ate and died. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” You will live … God is love!

Three people were killed and 26 were wounded after yesterday’s attack by Russian terrorists in Odessa and the Oblast.

Night 473: First communion and a vote on calendars … all amidst war.

We had a quieter night, though alarms continued in the east and in Dnipro.

The word that God gives us for the next day of war is poetry. “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, the One who comforts us in our every trouble, that we ourselves may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with that consolation which we experience from God. For as the afflictions of Christ abound in us, so we also experience great consolation through Christ. But when we endure afflictions, it is for your consolation and salvation; and when we are comforted, it is for your consolation, causing you to endure with endurance the same sufferings that we also experience. And our hope concerning you is strong, for we know that as you share the sufferings, so do we share the consolation.”

God is love!

Friars this week at the Fr. Pio’s house in Kiev led children in making pizza and in other therapeutic activities. In Kamienske, meanwhile, children had first communion and participated in a Corpus Christi procession.

And in Uzhgorod this week, a solemn communion was held as ballots were distributed asking for the transition to the Gregorian calendar. Voting will take place through the week.

Night 474: The counteroffensive takes off … and we celebrate a birthday.

There has been official word from President Zelenski that he has launched a counterattack to restore Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders. Let us pray that as few people and soldiers as possible are killed. The night, however, was very difficult and dangerous. Alarms sounded throughout Ukraine and rockets hit residential houses in the Dnipropetrovsk region, leaving people dead and wounded. Kiev was also attacked, in particular the city’s Left Bank, where the brothers live. God, give us a just peace !

The Word reminds us about living truly in love. “The point is that we should no longer be children who are tossed about by the waves and moved by every whiff of doctrine, as a result of deception on the part of men and cunningness in leading astray by falsehood. Instead, living truly in love, let us make all things grow toward Him who is the Head, toward Christ.”

Yesterday, 95 more of our military men returned from Russian captivity; since February 24, 2022, we’ve seen return 2,526 Ukrainian men and women.

In Vinnitsa, a mother came to our church with her daughter, Polina, to give thanks for six years of Polina’s life, who just yesterday had celebrated her birthday. Of course, the girl prayed spontaneously asking Jesus in the Greatest Sacrament to end the war. In the same city, meanwhile, Brother Igor, along with the Franciscan Youth, made a small patch of green amid the concrete — and so there is life.

Night 475: More difficulties rain on us at night.

It was a very difficult night. The number of deaths among civilians is increasing – including seven people, employees of state forests in Sum Oblast, along with people in Odesa. The people die from rocket attacks.

The Word reminds us, at all times and for everything, to bless God. “If, thanks to Christ, we put such confidence in God, it is not because we think that we are able to think something of ourselves, but we know that this ability of ours is of God. He also made it possible for us to become servants of the New Covenant, a covenant not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit brings life.”

“Teach me, O God, to walk in Your paths, Guide me in truth according to Your instructions.”

God is love!

The Capuchins this week in Kiev provided shelter for people passing through the country, who reported witnessing destroyed homes on their way through places like Borodianka and Bucha. We pray: May God heal every pain and grief, and may God’s love be poured into the hearts of the Ukrainian people so that they are able to forgive their oppressors.

Crooked Horn, in the Dnipropetrovsk region and the hometown of President Zielenski, was the site of the latest Russian missile attack. Eleven people were killed, among them died a young couple, David and Ksenia. Today is a day of mourning in the city.

In Vinnitsa, city authorities are continuing the construction for the monument to St. James.

And in Kiev, Brother Konstantin Morozov, our secretary of the Custody, recalled the historic event of June 13, 1995 — the announcement of the creation of the Custody of Ukraine under the name of St. Anthony. The act was performed by then-Minister General Brother John Corriveau. St. Anthony, pray for us.

Bad news has arrived in Kherson, however. The first cholera and other bacteria are appearing in the water, meaning epidemic may be close at hand.

Night 476: Finding freedom in Christ in the midst of chaos.

The Word today reminds us: “And the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” As often happens in Christianity, faith is understood as orders, prohibitions, laws; in a word, enslavement. But the Word of God says something completely different. Once again: “But the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” A Christian, a believer, lives in true freedom. God is love!

Today, however, is a day of mourning in Krzywy Rog. On June 13, as a result of Russian missile attacks, 12 people were killed — among them several minors. In Odessa, meanwhile, scenes of destruction follow a dangerous night. Kharkiv and the region around it also bear the consequences of Russian rocket fire.

Night 477:  Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Yesterday was full of alarms and anxiety. In Vinnitsa alone, there were three series of alarms. Russian terror has become active — a reaction to the counterattack by the Ukrainian army. The night, however, was quieter compared to previous nights. There were air strikes and rockets, but fewer of them. God, give us a just peace.

The Word of today is abundant for people who have a simple and open heart. In Jesus, in the Church, we are the new chosen people. The Word is to us and for us:

“You are a nation dedicated to the Lord your God. You have been chosen by the Lord your God to be, among all the nations that are on the face of the earth, a people who are His special possession. The Lord chose you and found pleasure in you, not because you outnumber all nations, for of all nations you are the smallest, but because the Lord loved you and wants to keep the oath given to your ancestors. He brought you out with a strong hand and delivered you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

“Recognize, then, that the Lord your God is God, a faithful God, keeping covenant and love to a thousand generations toward those who love Him and uphold His laws, but who repays each of those who hate Him by destroying them. He does not leave the one who hates Him unpunished, repaying him alone. Guard, therefore, the commands, laws and precepts which I command you to obey today.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this is manifested the love of God toward us, that He sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might have life through Him. In this love is manifested that we did not love God, but that He Himself loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, then we should also love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God abides in us and love toward Him is perfected in us. We recognize that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given to us from His Spirit. We have also seen and testify that the Father sent the Son as the Savior of the world. If someone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, then God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love: whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

“Come to Me, all you who are afflicted and burdened, and I will comfort you. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is sweet, and my burden is light.”

In the Spirit of this Word, the yoke of war and our daily crosses, our suffering, is to be lifted, to be borne, to becomes a glorious cross. God is love!

Night 479: More bombs, rockets and drones.

The day began with new alarms. Night was especially difficult around the Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia regions, where alarms sounded incoming drone and rocket attacks.

The Word today brings us a request from God Himself: “Now, if you diligently listen to My voice and guard My covenant, you will be My special possession among all nations, for to Me belongs all the earth. But you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy people.” We, the Lord’s people and His sheep, are offered courage: “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” God is love!

In Vinnitsa, with God’s help and in accordance with the request of the parents, Yulia and Andriy, we accepted their fourth child into the Catholic Church. For this, we thank God.

From Br. Błażej letters nights 472-479
Edited by br. McLean Bennett
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph

Nights 467-473 – Br. Błażej letters

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War

June 4, 2023, Sunday. On the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, Ukraine endured its 465th night of war.

Around 2 a.m., alarm systems echoed across the country. The area near the Dnipro River was heavily targeted with rockets. Tragically, a two-story building collapsed, injuring 13 people, including three children.

In these challenging times, the words of Jesus offer comfort and hope:

“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

This message inspires Christian living, encouraging us to rejoice, strive for perfection, maintain humility, and foster unity and peace so that “the God of love and peace will be with us.”

Despite the war, life continues.

In Vinnytsia, the Clara Studio, alongside Caritas – Spes Vinnytsia, organized a Children’s Day under the spiritual guidance of the Capuchin Brothers. The day was attended by local children, displaced children, and special guests from Crooked Corner with Sr. Margaret S. Franciscan (FMM). A special guest was Msgr. Leon Dubrawski, who stayed at the Capuchin monastery.

In Lviv, people are invited to participate in night and day prayers of adoration.

Also in Vinnytsia, Brother Patrick, an experienced chaplain of nuns, together with the Capuchin Brothers and the Mother General, was visited by the servant nuns of Vinnytsia Chutors

Brother Janusz Mędygrał and Brother Henry visited a special school for handicapped children in Lubien Veliky in the Lviv region. During their trip, they also visited monasteries in Olesko and Kutkorz, praying for their brothers and for peace in Ukraine.

Brother Viktor Deszuk attended a youth meeting in Zhytomyr, which had about 205 participants from the diocese, including 12 people from their parish in Kyiv.

June 6, 2023 – Tuesday marks the 467th night of war in Ukraine.

The night was troubled with alerts from midnight to 4 a.m. as rockets spanned Ukraine. The morning report indicates that 36 rockets fired from Russian territory toward Ukraine and Kyiv were intercepted and neutralized by the Ukrainian anti-missile systems (PPO). Despite the bombardment, Ukraine stands firm. Russians blasted a dam on the Dnipro River in Kakhovka, Kherson region. The dam, part of a hydropower plant, has caused widespread flooding. Eight villages on the left bank of the Dnipro are now underwater. Evacuation of the civilian population is underway.

The city of Kharkiv, too, had a difficult night, with four powerful S-300 missiles causing significant damage.

Amidst all the disturbing news, the heartrending images of dying individuals, children, and ruined homes, Psalm 111 provides solace: “Blessed is the man who serves the Lord… He will not fear when he hears bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

Regardless of the war, life goes on in Ukraine.

Brother Igor Mularski announces that work has begun in front of the monastery and church in Vinnytsia. The city services are funding the project, which will ultimately see the erection of a monument to St. James, the Apostle, marking the beginning of the Vinnytsia-Kamianets-Podilskyi pilgrimage route.

June 7, 2023, Wednesday. Ukraine’s battle against Russian aggression continues into its 468th night.

More than 17,000 people have been displaced, triggering another wave of refugees. Authorities are taking emergency measures to evacuate people and animals. The flooding is sweeping away homes, some only visible by their rooftops.

In addition to this devastation, Russian shelling resulted in three civilian deaths and 21 injuries.

In times like these, we turn to the prayers of the faithful to seek solace and strength. The prayer of Tobias, found in the book of Tobit, resonates deeply with the current realities of war:

“Righteous are You, O Lord, and all Your works are righteous. All Your ways are mercy and truth; You judge the world…”

Nova Kakhovka’s city office is at the forefront of addressing the crisis, and evacuation efforts are ongoing. The city of Vinnytsia has agreed to provide shelter to 4,000 people displaced by the flooding.

June 8, 2023, Thursday. As Ukraine prepares for Corpus Christi Sunday, we live through the 469th night of war.

Yesterday, alerts sounded across the country around 11 o’clock, painting the country “red”. The night might have seemed calmer in comparison, but it’s only an illusion. The East continues to endure the harrowing realities of war while many grapple with massive floods – another grim dimension of the conflict.

A source of strength in these trying times, we find solace in the divine words: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second one is: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Embodying these commandments brings us closer to the kingdom of God and happiness. For God is love.

Amid the struggle, we remember: we live in war; we do not live by war.

In Uzhhorod, Brother Marek Lisowski shares the first art therapy classes held in the still unfinished pastoral room. Conducted by a professionally trained psychotherapist, the classes included children from war-affected areas and Uzhhorod.

In Kamiańske, Brother Leonid Majewski displays a fire brigade helmet gifted to them by firefighters from Severodonetsk as a token of gratitude for their assistance.

June 10, 2023 – Saturday, 471st night of war.

Last night Odessa and the Odessa region suffered greatly, with casualties reported. As we observe the National Day of Prayer for Ukraine today, we ardently pray for peace.

In times of struggle, we turn to the Word of Life: “Glorify God and praise Him before all the living… Spread God’s words before all people… It is a beautiful thing to keep the king’s secret, but worthy of all praise to reveal the works of God…” The angel Raphael’s declaration is a beacon of hope: “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand ready and enter before the majesty of the Lord.” God is love.

From Krosno/Krakow, we receive news of an ongoing workshop titled “Nowosielski’s Alphabet”, led by Brother Martin Świądr, OFMCap. In this community, we remember Brother Justyn, a pioneer of our new Capuchin presence in Ukraine, currently residing in the Capuchin “Community of Reconciliation” in Krosno.

Four days after Russian occupiers blew up the Novy Kachovka dam, the tragic repercussions continued. Thousands of buildings and villages are flooded, and countless lives are uprooted. In Nikolaev Region and Kherson Oblast, thousands have been evacuated and casualties are climbing.

In Gylajpole, Zaporizhzhya Oblast, a hospital has been shelled by the Russians, causing the death of two hospital employees and wounding two others.

Unidentified kamikaze drones have also struck Voronezh, a city close to our hearts where our brothers reside. We pray for an end to this war and the advent of just peace.

In Kyiv, Brother Sergey Kippa, our custos, once again appeared on the Catholic TV channel EWTN. He celebrated the Eucharist and preached a homily. Brother Sergey is scheduled to lead a retreat for priests of the Kiev-Zytomyr diocese from June 12-16. We ask for prayers for him and the participants of the retreat.

June 11, 2023 – Sunday. Today, we commemorate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Corpus Christi, marking the 472nd war night.

The plight of those affected by the blowing up of the Novaya Kakhovka dam by the Russians continues. In the occupied territories, these same terrorists withhold help, worsening the tragedy. International aid makes its way to the flooded areas as we pray for just peace.

The Word of God that the Mother Church imparts in war sounds different than in peacetime. We hold fast to the promise: “You shall live forever, you shall not die… You shall live! I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” The promise of eternal life resonates strongly amidst the turmoil: “Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” God is love!

Yesterday, Russians attacked Odessa and the Oblast, causing the death of three people and injuring 26 others).

In Kherson and Oblast, the water reveals grim evidence of the ongoing conflict, washing up the bodies of dead soldiers on the shores.

In a show of solidarity with Ukraine, Iga Swiatek, the champion of the Roland Garros tennis tournament in Paris, has been sporting a ribbon with the colors of the Ukrainian flag since the onset of the full-scale invasion by Russia. Her act of solidarity is a beacon of support in our struggle for freedom.

June 12, 2023. Monday. Bl. Anicet Kopliński and confreres, martyrs. 473rd night of war.

Yesterday, alerts sounded across Ukraine during the afternoon. The night was quieter, but alarms rang out in the East, including Dnipro.

The word God provides for the next day of war is “POETRY.” “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. Our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” God is love!


Br. Marek Lisowski Uzhhorod In Uzhhorod, the Solemn Communion was held yesterday, and ballots were handed out requesting the switch to the Gregorian calendar. Voting continues until next Sunday.

Brothers of the Custody of Ukraine Br. Blazej Suska Vinnytsia

From Br. Błażej letters nights 467-473
Edited by br. Igor De Bliquy
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph

Nights 458-464 – Br. Błażej letters

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, May 28-June 3, 2023

Amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian people exemplify remarkable resilience and unwavering faith. From the relentless nights of war to the unwavering dedication of the Capuchin brothers providing essential ministry and support, these stories shed light on the transformative power of faith and the indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people. As we explore their journeys, we witness their determination to rise above adversity, their unwavering hope for a just peace, and the profound influence of their faith in guiding them through the darkest times.

Night 458: Pentecost.

We survived another night full of alarms and, above all, kamikaze drones that flew into Ukraine from various directions. There were airstrikes from 1 to 6 a.m., with alarms over almost all of Ukraine. Kiev was the most attacked. Of the 54 kamikaze drones launched by the Russian terrorists, 52 were shot down. Unfortunately, there were casualties.

In Vinnitsa, we were visited by more “angels” — volunteers from Poland who have gone to the east of Ukraine. The guests were received by our brothers Joseph and Paul.

In Lviv and Krasilow, the spring chapter of the Franciscan Youth has begun at the Padre Pio retreat house in Krasilow. About 55 people from Kyiv, Vinnitsa and other cities have gathered there. May the Holy Spirit lead us in His paths!

Night 459: Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

The night was similar to the previous: punctuated by alarms and kamikaze drones. Russia launched 40 drones — plus a few dozen more missiles — with trajectories toward Kiev. All of them were destroyed, and for that we thank God and our soldiers.

Mary, guard us, and protect Ukraine and the Church in Ukraine. Happy Virgin, who gave birth to the Lord, Blessed Mother of the Church, you guard in us the Spirit of your Son, Jesus Christ.

Brother Marcin Swiąder, a Capuchin from the community of Brother Justin Rusin, created another icon today, and in Kiev we held a night vigil and prayer service. In Uzhgorod, a long-awaited trip to the mountains took place in late May: Youth from our Uzhgorod parish took part, including three children from a foster family, as well as two boys currently with us. And in

Krasilow, meanwhile, we celebrated today a long-awaited and postponed first Holy Communion for our children.

For this week’s solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, we celebrated a parish indulgence in Kiev, with a Eucharist presided over by Bishop Oleksander Yazlovetsky.

Night 460: A return to not-so-ordinary time.

More drones, which come by day as well as by night. Most targeted is Kiev, the capital. Four people were injured after Russia launched 31 drones on Ukraine; all but two were destroyed before they struck their targets.

The Word today reminds us of a bit of evangelical “business” on St. Peter’s part. Peter said to Jesus: “Behold, we have forsaken all and followed you.” Jesus replied: “Verily I say unto you, no man forsaketh house, or brethren, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or fields, because of Me, and because of the Gospel, lest he receive a hundredfold now, at this time, houses, or brethren, or sisters, or mothers, or children, or fields, in the midst of persecution, and eternal life in the time to come. But many of the first will be the last, and the last the first.”

For the Capuchins in Kiev, the statement that “we live in war” is fulfilled. Drones come by night and by morning. Still, we do not live by war: On the patronal feast of the church, ours is a church full of people, a common agape, dancing, and joy.

Night 461: Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Tonight was quieter than previous ones — though there was an attack on a transport base in the Dnipropetrovsk region. God, give us a just peace!

Mary visits Elizabeth, and the women exchange the Word of God. And today, we, through Mother Church, are haunted by the Word:

“Sing out, Daughter of Zion! Lift up a joyful shout, Israel! Rejoice and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has removed the judgments upon you, He has removed your enemy; The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you shall no longer fear evil.

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, ‘Fear not, Zion! Let not your hands grow weak!’ The Lord your God is in your midst, the Mighty One who saves, He will exult over you with joy, He will renew you with His love, He will raise a shout of joy.”

“Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not malign. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Be unanimous among yourselves. Do not chase after greatness, but be attracted to what is humble.”

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior … for great things has the Almighty done unto me, and His name is holy.”

With this Word, God haunts us today, so that even in the war and in this war in the head, we keep calm and maintain joy.

In Kiev, an apartment building was damaged and 30 people were evacuated. Four were injured and another was killed.

Night 462: On Children’s Day, tragedy upon tragedy.

Tonight was an especially difficult one in Kiev, where rockets and debris fell on a part of the city where the brothers live. All ten “Iskander” rockets launched toward the city were shot down, but three people — including one child, an 11-year-old girl — died, and 10 people (including a child) were injured. All this on what we recognize as Children’s Day. Let us pray that all children live in love and peace. God, give us peace.

Our president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has reported that Russia has killed at least 483 children. A thousand more children have been wounded by terrorist acts. God help our children.

The Word reminds us that “For us, Christ became obedient to the point of death, and that death of the cross. Therefore, God has exalted Him above all things and given Him a name above every name.”

Night 463: A reminder of the power of prayer.

Another night of war. Alarms. Explosions. Anti-missile systems are at work in Kiev, where people are staying overnight in a city metro station. At around 3 a.m., all of Ukraine was “red” as Russian terrorists launched 15 rockets and 18 kamikaze drones. There are damaged buildings, but for now no information about human casualties. Two people were wounded.

“Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God! Verily I say unto you, He that saith unto this mountain: “Lift thyself up, and cast thyself into the sea,” and shall not doubt in his soul, but shall believe that what he saith shall be fulfilled, it shall be done unto him. Therefore, I say unto you, all that ye ask in prayer shall be done unto you, only believe that ye shall receive. And when you stand up to pray, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven may also forgive you your transgressions.’”

While the mindless destruction in our country continues, we do not stop praying, because we know that prayer is the most powerful weapon. Two hands folded in prayer are stronger than two clenched fists.

Night 464: God remains our wealth in war.

Ukraine’s eastern provinces have no peace. Alarms sound day and night, and in some of the smaller towns and villages innocent people are killed every day. God, give us peace!

The Word is our wealth, wisdom, truth and source of peace — even in war. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you in all its richness; give thanks to God the Father through Christ.”

Earlier this week, men’s communities of consecrated life in Poland prayed and fasted for peace in the world, especially in Ukraine. We are grateful for their prayers.

This week in Uzhgorod, meanwhile, we distributed to the needy — many of them resettled displaced persons — 50 kitchen sets including wet wipes, dishwashing sponges, garbage bags, parchment paper, food wrap and napkins.

From Br. Błażej letters nights 458-464
Edited by br. McLean Bennett
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph