Nights 593 and 596 – Br. Błażej letters

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, Oct. 10 and 13, 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 593: Choosing the better part.

A standard war night: Alarms, drone and missile strikes, explosions … Destroyed were 27 of the 36 rockets launched on post-Ukrainian territory. This is how another war night passed on the front line of regular war. Let’s pray for a just peace, including in the Middle East.

“The Lord spoke to Jonah a second time with these words: ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim to it the admonition with which I commission you.’ Jonah got up and went to Nineveh.… God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil conduct. And God was relieved of the misery He had decided to bring upon them, and did not send it.”

“Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about much, while little or only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part, which she will not be deprived of.”

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it faithfully.”

In Uzhhorod yesterday evening, some parishioners sensed a slight movement of objects in their apartments. It turned out that it was an earthquake. The epicenter was registered in Slovakia. Thank God all is well with us.

In Vinnitsa, our neighbors from Caritas-Spes are organizing another art class for children.

Night 596: A kingdom at war with itself is doomed to fail.

Another typical war night, with alarms, missile raids and drones, especially in the border regions and provinces. In our region it is calmer, thank God.

Today’s Word illustrates the modern world: “Every inwardly quarrelsome kingdom empties, and house upon house collapses. If, therefore, Satan quarrels with himself, how will his kingdom stand?”

“Now the ruler of this world will be cast out, and I, when I am exalted above the earth, will draw all to Myself.”

In the small village of Grozi, 59 people were killed by a terrorist Russian rocket. The deceased were attending a luncheon following the funeral of their loved one, a Ukrainian soldier killed in a foreign war. May they rest in peace.

Edited by br. McLean Bennett
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph

Nights 579-590

Br. Błażej letters

September 26, 2023, Tuesday – Day 579 of the War

Border regions and the Dnipropetrovsk region experienced night assaults. May God grant us a righteous peace!


Blessings upon those who not only hear the Word but also embody its teachings.

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Jesus’ mother and siblings came to see Him, but the crowd blocked their way. They sent a message to Him, saying, “Your mother and brothers are outside, waiting to see You.” He responded, “My true family are those who hear the Word of God and act upon it.”


Even in the midst of war, we do not let the war define our entire existence.

Krasilov/Slobidka: Unveiling and consecration of the statue dedicated to the Mother of God.

Odessa: Odessa suffered missile strikes from Russian forces last night. The iconic “Odessa” hotel, situated right on the Black Sea’s coast, is almost completely in ruins.


Br. Zbigniew Sawchuk, Krasilov Wishing Brother Maciej Styburski a blessed 100th birthday. A century of serving God and mankind on this Earth and an eternity of life with Jesus in Heaven awaits.

Br. Volodymyr Procko, Kamyanske Extending warm wishes to Brother Vladislav on his name day. May the Lord’s blessings and protection be with you. May you be granted all the graces required for sainthood. Parishioners joyfully welcomed their parish priest.

Br. Adam Wróbel, Kyiv From Friday to Sunday, our monastery hosted a retreat for the animators from the Domowy Kościół (House Church).

Another art therapy session took place at the Pio house. Apart from the in-house activities, attendees also enjoyed a guided tour of Kyiv’s museums.

September 28, 2023 – Thursday
581st Night of War

A night of unrest was palpable across the border regions. Alarm bells resounded in both the Dnipropetrovsk region and Vinnitsa. Rockets, aiming for the beleaguered Odessa, soared across the skies. Fortunately, they were all intercepted and neutralized by our anti-missile systems. May the Almighty bestow upon us the gift of a just peace.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Though we exist amidst war, it does not define our essence.

Uzhhorod: Heartfelt birthday wishes are being sent to our brothers, Mark and Roman. Fraternal emissaries from Lviv and Krosno have already embarked on their journey to Chechnya.

Kharkiv: Sister Klara, one of the Blessed Honorat sisters and a nurse in the Kharkiv area, is unwavering in her commitment to serving those who are most vulnerable. Testament to her spirit, she remains a beacon of prayer. Sadly, certain edifices in the city haven’t been spared from the onslaught. In a poignant gesture, flowers have been crafted from the very bombs and shells that Russian terrorists unleashed upon the city.

Berislav: A grim reminder of war’s brutality, Russian rockets recently ravaged this city. The aftermath was tragic, with two lives lost and another two individuals grievously injured.

Starokonstantinov: Here, one can find remnants and symbols representing our Capuchin monastery.


Br. Kazimierz Guzik, Lviv: The inaugural assembly of the community was hosted at the Capuchin friary in Lviv. A chorus of “Deo gratias” echoes, and a special commendation goes to Brother Sergey. His tireless endeavors in rallying the youth towards the path of Jesus are truly commendable.

October 1, 2023 – Sunday. 584th Night of War

Today we honor Our Lady of the Scapular (Покрови), the revered Patroness of our Mukachevo diocese. Concurrently, we observe the Day of the Defenders of Ukraine.

Join us in our heartfelt prayers for our diocese, for our valiant Defenders, and for the guardians of our borders – the sentinels of our collective freedom.

Mary, Mother of God, intercede on our behalf.

A tumultuous night unfolded, marked by alarming sirens, buzzing drones, and devastating rockets. Tragically, these rockets found their mark in Humana, destroying grain warehouses. Civilian residences in Crooked Rose also bore the brunt of the violence. Moreover, disturbing reports of explosions have emanated from Kherson, Nikopol, and Kharkiv.

Even in our darkest hours, God always provides a beacon of hope.

“When the ungodly turn away from the sins they have committed, embracing the path of law and righteousness, they preserve their souls. Upon introspection, they forsake all their sins and are assured of life eternal.”
When there’s a way out, it means there’s always a way forward.

“Guide me, Lord, in your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me; all day long I put my hope in you.” (Ps.25)

Uzhhorod: Yesterday, during the evening prayer of the church (Vespers), seven seminarians received their lower ordination (ministry). Fr. Peter, the rector of the seminary, and Bishop Nil presided over the solemn ceremony. One poignant act symbolizing their submission and obedience to the church was the ritual cutting of hair.

Vinnitsa: Fr. Oleksandr Kushta extends his heartfelt wishes on the occasion of Our Lady of the Scapular (Покрови).

Zaporizhzhya Oblast: A harrowing incident occurred when Russian terrorists targeted civilian residences with their shelling.


Br. Marek Lisowski, Uzhhorod
Today, I ventured into the mountains (Polonina Runa) with three young men. Amidst our various discussions, we delved into the topic of vocation discernment. A moment that stood out was witnessing the bronze Capuchin habit fluttering amidst the mountainous winds of Polonina.

Br. Zbigniew Sawczuk, Krasilov/Chmielnicki
Today marked a day of introspection for the youth of the Khmelnytsky decanate, culminating in street evangelization. The day extended into the night with the Marian Vigil in Krasilov.

Br. Kazimierz Guzik, Lviv
The spiritual fervor of the Night Vigil in Lviv was palpable.

Oct. 2, 2023 – 585th Night of War

A tumultuous night unfolded in the border and central regions, including Kiev. Alarm bells rang out. We call upon Our Lady of the Scapular to intercede on behalf of Ukraine and its people.

A prophetic utterance assures us, given the unyielding faithfulness of God:
“Thus says the Lord of Hosts: ‘Behold, I will rescue my people from the eastern lands and from the setting sun. I will guide them to settle in Jerusalem. They will be my cherished people, and in unwavering justice, I will be their God.’”
Indeed, God is love!


Ukraine solemnly honors the valiant defenders who laid down their lives for our Motherland, with particular remembrances from Uzhhorod.

In Vinnitsa, yesterday’s ambiance was uplifted by the harmonious melodies of an organ concert, resonating through the “Capuchin walls.”

Uzhhorod: On a serene Sunday afternoon, the brothers decided to take a stroll together, savoring the charm of Uzhhorod’s streets. Such moments of fraternity are truly heartwarming.

Krasilov: “True love endures.” For over a quarter of a century now, faithful individuals have congregated to immerse in the Word of God and extend their unwavering support to our brothers and the parish in Krasilov.


Br. Zbigniew Sawczuk, Krasilov
Today, Brother Leon Michalec marks his 55th year. We extend our heartfelt wishes filled with the Spirit of God, robust health, boundless joy, and peace. May the divine blessings envelop you, and may the Lord’s grace continually shine upon you.

October 3, 2023 586th Night of War

The night was fraught with unrest in the border regions and the Dnipropetrovsk region. Rockets and kamikaze drones struck residential buildings, garages, and businesses.

“The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
“For many?” This means for you, for me, and for those who lose their lives in this war, so that they may live eternally… Truly, God is love!

Though we are surrounded by war, we don’t let the war dominate our existence.

Kharkiv and its vicinity: A “museum” is established at the exit of Kharkiv, serving as a reminder to the world about the origins of this war and the misdeeds of the so-called Russian army – which is a challenge to recognize as a legitimate army or its members as soldiers.

Kharkiv. Little Rogan: A village near Kyiv where a team comprising volunteers, a local doctor from Kharkiv, a nurse named Sister Honorat Klara, and a French driver, come together. Their mission is to provide the elderly and sick with first medical aid and more.

Africa. Ngaoundaye: The October season dedicated to praying the rosary for peace in the Central African Republic (CAR) 🇨🇫 and Ukraine 🇺🇦 is well underway. May the Lord bless us and ensure our safety. Warm regards from Ngaoundaye!

Brother Adam Trochimovich, Krasilov: The Director of the School of Mary shares reflections on the Gospel from Sunday, October 1.
Special Invitation: As we approach the Solemnity of St. Francis on October 3, we Capuchin friars are deeply immersed in preparations for this significant feast. At midday, we honor the tradition of “Siccis,” consuming bread with salt while kneeling, accompanied by the recitation of the Passion of Christ. In the evening, following the Eucharist, we observe the “Transitus,” a sacred ritual and prayer that makes us cognizant of the death and transition of Our Father Francis to the eternal abode.

October 4, 2023 – Wednesday – Feast of St Francis – 587th Night of War

The night was marked with alarms and skirmishes, especially in the Border Regions and Dnipropetrovsk Region. In the spirit of St. Francis, we say: Peace and Good! St. Francis, be our intercessor.

Tomorrow, October 5, marks the name day of Brother Igor Mularski from Vinnitsa. Dear Brother, may the Divine countenance always shine upon you. Многая, многая літа!

The legacy of St. Francis is a beacon for all those who live by the Gospel:
“Here is he who in his lifetime improved the house of the Lord, and in his days strengthened the temple.”

A call to live by the cross of Christ:
“Brethren: God forbid that I should boast of anything else but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world was crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision means anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation…I bear the scars on my body, the mark of belonging to Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.”

A reminder of Christ’s humility and gentleness:
“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.”
God is the epitome of love.

Vinnitsa, Clara Studio: Recently, in commemoration of the Guardian Angels’ feast, our team engaged with children from the parish of Divine Mercy. Through cartoons, cookie decoration, and various activities, the theme was…angels. Together, they invoked the angels’ blessings for the defenders. Prayers were raised for peace, the sanctity of life, and divine victory. A heartfelt thanks to Julia Zavodowska for the opportunity; the experience was truly enriching.

Krasilow: The Capuchin Sisters, through their musical talents, echo the praises of the Divine. Elsewhere, the Franciscan brothers and Honorary Sisters are seen celebrating the teachings of St. Francis, advocating for “Peace and Good.” The same sentiment of peace reverberates in the Transitus celebrations across multiple locations.

Kiev: A symbolic representation of Saint Olga, the protector of Ukraine, is seen donned in a bulletproof vest. Saints Vladimir and Olga, intercede for us, for Ukraine.

Polonné: The fervor of “Peace and Good” resonates.


Br. Maciej Styburski, Krasilow: The serene village of Berezivka by the Dniester River recently saw parishioners engaged in the restoration of a rehabilitation home meant for war victims. They also basked in the warmth of the sun and the refreshing waters of the Dniester. Unfortunately, we also had to bid farewell to another brave heart who laid down his life for the nation. May his soul rest in peace.

Br. Adam Wróbel, Kiev/Krakow: A recent gathering in Krakow saw the coming together of chaplains and Knights of St. John Paul II, including delegates from Ukraine. An invitation was extended to the general of the Knights of JPII to visit Kiev.

Br. Adam Wróbel, Kiev: The solemnity of Transitus was observed in Kiev.

October 5, 2023 – Thursday588th Night of War

The darkness of war continues to prevail. The night witnessed alerts and kamikaze drone intrusions in the border regions. May the Lord grant us the peace we ardently seek.

In times of war, when sorrow often overwhelms us, the Word serves as a beacon of hope:
“And do not be despondent, for joy in the Lord is your refuge.”
“Be calm! After all, this day is holy. Do not be depressed!”
God, in His infinite love, remains our sanctuary.

In the shadow of conflict, we stand resilient. War surrounds us, but it does not define us.

Vinnitsa: The Transitus is perceived uniquely. The emblematic Franciscan cross TAU is crafted ingeniously from… gingerbread, reminding us of the sweet burden of faith.

Rome: The Synod of Bishops is underway. The Roman Catholic Church sees representation from Ukraine through Bishops Radoslav (from Kamenets Podolskyi) and Oleksandr (from Kyiv).  The Greek Catholic diocese delegates its representation through a layperson, notably the wife of one of the priests from our diocese.

Grachev, Kharkov Oblast: This village, situated 50 km from Kharkov, experienced the scars of Russian occupation for six long months. Originally home to 28 resilient souls who withstood the occupation, it now shelters about 200 residents. The aftermath is evident: shattered homes, a ruined school, and a desecrated Orthodox church. All these stand testament to the need for restoration and healing. Our mission sought to reach out and embrace these people in their moment of need.

God’s love is unwavering, and His grace is our constant guide. In Him, we find our refuge.

October 6, 2023 – Friday. 589 war night.

The night brought unrest as Shahida drones were launched from Crimea, with alarms sounding in Khmelnitsky and the Vinnytsia region. Tragically, in Kharkiv, an Iskander missile hit the city center, possibly trapping individuals under debris.

Current War Situation:

  • In Vinnitsa, the Caritas-Spes organization, with the help of volunteers like Sr. Antonina, continues to assist those in need.
  • Bogorodyszcze village is now mostly destroyed but has seen 27 of its inhabitants return.
  • The bridge in Izium is destroyed.
  • Groza village in the Kharkiv region experienced a horrific attack from Russian soldiers, resulting in 51 civilian casualties. Attacks targeted stores, houses, and other premises. Six children were among those lost, and it is feared that more victims might be under rubble.

Updates from the Brothers:

  • In Kyiv, school children gifted a portrait of St. Francis for his feast day, and there was a mini-concert dedicated to him.
  • In Lviv, the “Franciscan Youth” of MF renewed their promises. The Eucharist was led by Fr. Gregory Draus.
  • Brother Sergei in Starokonstantinov shared about the small yet significant victories in his life. He is also working to enhance his psychotherapeutic skills to assist those affected by the war.

October 7, 2023 – Saturday. St. Mary of the Rosary. 590 war night.

The village of Groze in Kharkov witnesses constant devastation and loss of innocent lives, leaving a deep imprint on the residents, including children who plead for the war’s end.

Current War Situation:

  • The village in the Kharkiv region mourns the tragic death of 51 individuals, including a young boy. A significant number of these victims were at a restaurant luncheon, post the funeral of another young boy who fought in the war.
  • Kharkiv city center witnessed the unfortunate demise of 27 civilians due to a Russian missile attack.
  • Ismail in the Odesa region and Kherson suffered missile and bomb attacks respectively.
  • In the Kharkiv region, volunteers, including Sr. Klara, are stepping up to provide medical aid to those in need.
  • Vinnitsa said its final goodbye to a young 26-year-old soldier named Oleksandr. The funeral ceremony saw the presence of Br.Joseph Chromy.
  • In Rome, a special Eucharist was celebrated at the tomb of St. John Paul II, with bishops from Poland and Ukraine, including Bishop Oleksandr Jazlowiecki.

Updates from the Brothers:

  • In Uzhhorod, Br. Marek Lisowski conducted another art therapy session for children.
  • Br. Kazimierz Guzik from Lviv shared about the departure of Fr. Gregory Draus, who is moving to his Lublin diocese. He has been a significant benefactor in the spirit of the Capuchin.


God’s love remains the center of all faith, especially in trying times.

Nights 573-578 – Br. Błażej letters

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, Sept. 20-26, 2023

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War

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 573: Remembering a war-time Capuchin hero.

A night of restlessness, with alarms and drone groups in the Ukrainian sky. Border regions and provinces, the capital, Dnipro and other surrounding regional cities are being attacked.

In the Donetsk region, as many as four S-300 missiles hit the city. Thank God there were no casualties, but a school, a boarding school and a private building were destroyed.

In Krasilow, meanwhile, our Capuchin sisters are supporting our nation’s defenders with prayer and more.

Today is the anniversary of the death of the Servant of God Fr. Seraphim Kashuba. Let us pray for the speedy beatification of the Venerable Servant of God, and let us pray through the cause of Fr. Seraphin, who died in Lviv on Sept. 20, 1977, for peace in Ukraine and for the conversion of our enemies and for our own conversion.

Friars in Cracow this year (in November, close to the Polish national holiday) will host a celebration of Seraphim Kashuba’s life. He was an icon of Polish fate in the 20th century. Born under Austrian annexation in 1910, at 8 years old saw Poland regain its independence. Just two years later, his hometown, Lviv, had to defend itself against the Bolsheviks. He was in Lviv again when World War II broke out, with Lviv defending itself against the Germans. The Soviets’ Red Army entered in under the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, and Kashuba experienced, along with other Poles, the tragedy of events in Volhynia.

“Your words, Lord, are spirit and life. You have the words of eternal life.” We live in war, we do not live by war.


Night 575: Solidarity with and support for Poland.

This night was quieter than previous war nights. Even so, the border perimeters were shelled, fighting on the front was intense, and people are being killed. God, give us a just peace.

Kiev was attacked yesterday. In Cherkasy, meanwhile, a rocket attack on a hotel left nine people injured; one survivor was extracted from the rubble.

Tomorrow, Sept. 23, we Capuchins of the Custody of Ukraine will experience the Solemnity of St. Pio, the patron saint of our Capuchin community in Ukraine. St. Pio, pray for us.

The Word today comes with some practical advice. “For the root of all evil is greed for money. It is by chasing after it that some have strayed far from the faith and have inflicted much suffering on themselves.

“You, on the other hand, O man of God, flee from such things, and follow righteousness, piety, faith, love, perseverance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, gain eternal life: to it you have been called, and of it you have made a good confession before many witnesses.”

We are praying for unity and peace between Poland and Ukraine. Simple people, not politicians on social media, are apologizing to Poles for decisions related to the grain. They do not identify with political decisions at this time. Let us pray for unity and peace. We are grateful to Poland for everything.

In Krotoszyn, Lukasz Kaczmarek, Poland’s national volleyball player, donated his European champion’s gold medal to his home parish. And in Krasilow, there were various forms of gratitude and solidarity shown with Poles and Poland.


Night 576: Thanksgiving for Padre Pio’s prayers in Ukraine.

A night calmer than previous nights, thank God. Odessa and the Dnipropetrovsk region, however, were shelled. God, give us a just peace!

Personally, I want to boast, like the prophet Jeremiah, that I have come to know God, in the works of Fr. Pio, in the history of our custody of Ukraine. Our Capuchin presence in Vinnitsa, our acquisition of land, a monastery and church in Kiev, and the rapid reconstruction of our church in Dnipro — all are just some of the miracles that we received from the good God through the intercession of Fr. Pio, the Capuchin. Deo gratias!

“Rather, wishing to boast, let him boast that he is prudent and that he recognizes Me, that I am the Lord, who shows graciousness, lawfulness and justice on earth — in this I am well pleased: the oracle of the Lord.”

In Cherkasy, deconstruction of the collapsed hotel went through the night. Yesterday, in Lviv, we saw the dedication and opening of the Blessed Bernardine Jablonska Ecumenical Mercy Center. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski consecrated the center.

Capuchins and others in Kiev, meanwhile, transported a batch of humanitarian aid: clothing for children and adults, shoes, bedding, food, chemicals, a pair of generators, two mattresses and medicines. The supplies went to Kherson. We thank our benefactors, because thanks to them we can be people of good will.


Night 578: A new Padre Pio center to help in the war.

We had a night of restlessness. Around midnight, alarms went off in individual regions and across all of Ukraine as missiles and combat drones launched from the Black Sea. The attacks led to fires in the Odessa region, and a marine train station, a train station hotel, grain warehouses, private buildings, and others were damaged. One woman was injured. God, grant us a just peace.

The Word tells us to “Take heed, therefore, how you listen. For he that hath, to him shall be given; and he that hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he thinketh he hath.”

In Vinnitsa, a concert of organ music within our Capuchin walls lifted our weary spirits.

In Kiev, on Sept. 23, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Capuchins’ Ukrainian custody and the Christian Relief Service. The agreement establishes a Center for Rehabilitation and Resocialization named after Padre Pio, which will become a place of spiritual care, psychological assistance, physical rehabilitation and social adaptation for veterans and their family caregivers, as well as for families of fallen, captured and missing soldiers and for anyone else suffering from the war.

The center will be a symbolic continuation of the tradition started by Padre Pio in 1956, when on his initiative he founded the House for the Relief of Suffering in San Giovanni Rotondo, in Italy.


Night 579: More destruction as war goes on.

Night attacks fell on the border and Dnipropetrovsk regions. In Odessa, rocket attacks almost completely destroyed a hotel on the shores of the Black Sea.

We are blessed and happy when we listen and keep the Word: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it faithfully.”

“His mother and brothers came to Jesus, but they could not get to Him because of the crowd.

They announced to Him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see You.’

But He answered them: ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and fulfill it.’”

In Krasilov, we witnessed a consecration of the statue of the Mother of God. And in Kiev, another session of art therapy was held at the Pio house.