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.

Nights 564-570 – Br. Błażej letters

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, Sept. 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 564: Seeking peace in God.

Night attacks are taking place along the border district and the Dnipropetrovsk region. God give us a just peace!

A Word comes to us for the time of war — and beyond!

“Only in God seek peace, my soul, for from Him comes my hope.

“Only He is my rock and salvation, He is my fortress, so I will not falter.

“At all times trust in Him, O nation.

“Before Him pour out your hearts, God is our refuge.”


“My sheep listen to My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. Listen and you will live!”

God is love!

Beatified on Sunday were the Ulma family from Markowa; they were executed in 1944 by the Nazis for hiding Jews in their home.

In Uzhhorod, the first evening Eucharist in the catechetical year took place with the participation of children.

Elsewhere, our brothers on their annual monastic retreat hit the road this week to Starokonstantin for the annual monastic retreat.

In Kyiv, meanwhile, several residential houses, an administration building, and a school were damaged by rocket attacks or shrapnel.

Night 566: Rolling away “the old man,” putting on the “new.”

We had a peaceful night, but only in our provinces (or “oblasts”). In the border and coastal regions, there was still fighting and drone attacks. God, give us a just peace!

Today’s Word is long and abundant — it is worth stopping, reading and, above all, listening to it all.

“Brothers: If you have risen from the dead together with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ resides, seated at the right hand of God. Strive for what is above, not for what is on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, our Life, appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory.

“So inflict death on that which is mundane in the members: debauchery, impurity, lust, evil desire and greed, for it is idolatry. Because of them God’s wrath is coming on the sons of rebellion. And you once acted in this way when you lived by it. And now you also reject all these things: anger, fervor, malice, insult, shameful speech coming out of your mouth.

“Do not lie to one another, for you have rolled away the old man with his deeds, and have clothed yourselves with the new man, who is still being renewed toward a deeper knowledge of God, in the image of Him who created him. And here there is no longer Greek or Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free, but all in all is Christ.”

In Vovchansk, in the Kharkov region, more attacks fell on residential houses; fortunately, there were no casualties among the residents. In the Chernihiv region, a Russian drone hit a five-story residential house; thank God there were no fatalities here either. According to the United Nations, more than 9,600 civilians have been killed in Ukraine by Russian attacks over the past year and a half. God, grant us a just peace, and to the dead an eternal peace.

Night 569: A wartime ‘Rosary Uprising’ for peace.

We had a quieter night than the previous nights, with fewer alarms and drone attacks. God, grant us a just peace!

Our Capuchin retreat is coming to an end. We thank those who prayed for us as we start returning to our homes.

I don’t know if St. Paul’s words apply to you, but they certainly apply to me: God loves the sinner!

“It is a doctrine worthy of faith and deserving of complete recognition that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. But I received mercy in order that in me first Jesus Christ should show all magnanimity as an example to those who will believe in Him for eternal life. And to the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, God alone, honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” God is love!

In Krasilow, there was a “Rosary Uprising” this week. Our Capuchin sisters write that these events have been taking place in the city on every 13th day of the month for many, many years. Participants ask Mary for peace, reconciliation and forgiveness.

Night 570: Wisdom in war: Forgive transgressions and stop hating.

Night was very difficult. In the morning, all of Ukraine was “red,” with alarms all over the territory — and especially in the western regions. In the Kherson region, nighttime Russian rockets destroyed a school.

The wisdom from today’s Word is unequivocal and can give us wisdom for times of war and beyond:

“Anger and wrath are abominations to which a sinner clings.”

“Forgive transgression to your neighbor, and then, when you beg, your sins will be forgiven you.”

“Remember the final things and stop hating — the decay of the flesh, death, and keep the commandments! Remember the commandments and do not hate your neighbor.”

St. Paul himself notes: “Brethren, none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. And, therefore, in life and in death we belong to the Lord. For this purpose Christ died and came back to life, that he might reign over the dead as well as over the living.”

Be merciful, as God is merciful. God is love!

Nights 557-564 – Br. Błażej letters

The Silent Echoes of Ukraine’s War Nights

In the quiet embrace of September 2023, Ukraine sang a mournful lullaby, harmonized by the stark contrast of peace and war. A hymn of hope, faith, and resilience was woven into the daily lives of its people, each note bearing testimony to the human spirit’s invincibility.

September 5, 2023, Tuesday – The 558th War Night

The stillness of this night was unlike previous ones. As the gentle dusk settled, the border regions with Russia remained restless. In the midst of such uncertainty, a divine voice whispered, “But you, brothers, are not in darkness, so that that day should surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day.”

In the shadow of war, Odesa’s port buildings bore witness to destruction. The grain, the lifeblood of many, fell victim to acts that could only be termed as Russian terrorism. Even Kyiv’s schools, centers of learning and hope, were shrouded in the shadow of mines.

Yet, even in these times, the spirit of solidarity shone through. The Polish Embassy’s donation of power generators to Vinnitsa illuminated the intertwined destinies of neighboring nations. This thread of unity was further reflected in Brother Adam Wróbel’s tireless efforts to provide humanitarian aid to Kherson and its surrounding regions.

“God is love! We live in war, but we do not live by war.”


September 6, 2023, Wednesday – The 559th War Night

This night was tumultuous, a dance of dread and anticipation. As the anti-missile systems roared over Kyiv, they sang a duet of defense and hope. As dawn approached, Ukraine was bathed in red alerts, a stark contrast to the message from Colossae, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father!”

In the heart of this chaos, the “Nazareth” school in Kyiv opened its doors, a beacon of normalcy for children and parents alike. In Vinnitsa, the Franciscan youth remembered and celebrated Brother Igor Mularski’s two decades of religious life.

The day ended with a solemn remembrance of Cardinal Marian Jaworski, a friend of the Capuchins, whose spirit resonated with the message, “The Lord sent me to bring good news to the poor, to the prisoners to preach freedom.”


September 9, 2023, Saturday – The 562nd War Night

This evening carried a hint of calm, but alarms in the border regions echoed like distant drums of an approaching storm. “You who were once strangers to God and His enemies by your way of thinking and your evil deeds, now God has reconciled you again,” a scripture whispered, seeking to heal the hearts of many.

In Krzywy Róg, a rocket’s cruel embrace claimed the life of one and injured many. Vinnitsa city, however, celebrated its day, the pulse of life continuing amidst the cacophony of conflict.


September 10, 2023, Sunday – The 563rd War Night

Kiev experienced the wrath of night drone attacks, its echoes disrupting the quiet. Yet, with dawn, a scripture reverberated, urging love above all, “For he who loves another has fulfilled the Law. Love does no evil to one’s neighbor.”

As a symbolic gesture, Vinnitsa’s youngest ones placed plasters on a map of Ukraine during their catechetical lesson. Each patch embodied a prayer, a hope, a testament that every little act matters.

In Rome, there was a moment of connection as Br. Piotr Stasinski, the General Councilor, reached out, reminding Ukraine of its universal fraternity.


September 11, 2023, Monday – The 564th War Night

The border district and Dnipropetrovsk region echoed with the chilling hymns of conflict. As missiles soared and anti-aircraft systems retaliated, the faithful held onto a powerful scripture, “Only in God seek peace, my soul, for from Him comes my hope. Only He is my rock and salvation.”

The echoes of war, however, didn’t diminish the celebration of the Ulma family from Markowa, beatified for their unmatched sacrifice during WWII.


The world watched, prayed, and hoped, remembering always, “God is Love! We live in war, but we do not live by war.”

Edited by br. Igor De Bliquy
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph

Nights 550-556 – Br. Błażej letters

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, August 28-Sept. 3, 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 550: Hot days and hot alarms.

There have been alarms in Vinnitsa, Kiev and eastern Ukraine, despite things having been calmer than in previous nights. Temperatures reaching 34 and 35 degrees Celsius (93 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit) on consecutive days are also leaving their mark.

The Word reminds us of that on the way to knowing the true God (that is, true love ), it is important to listen and see. Hence the words from today’s liturgy:

“My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow Me.” God is love!

In Kiev, reconstruction has begun on a hotel that was damaged by a Russian rocket. In Krasilow, Capuchin nuns are happy to return home after vacations. And in Kamiansky, meanwhile, a meeting was held this week for children and youth. There were nearly 50 participants from Pavlograd, Dnipra, Crooked Horn and Kamianskom.

Night 551: The alarms and attacks continue.

Alarms are continuing, and there is danger of rocket attacks — primarily in the border regions. God, grant us a just peace!

God is close to us, as Psalm 139 says:

O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.

Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know the whole of it.
Behind me and before, you hem me in
and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
too lofty for me to attain.

In Kyiv, the House of Fr. Pio provides therapy, especially for mothers and wives who have lost their loved ones at the front.

Night 552: Ukraine goes red.

The nights are restless with the sound of alarms and air raids. At 5 o’clock in the morning, the whole of Ukraine went “red,” with alarms even in Uzhgorod. Explosions could be heard in Kiev. Our anti-missile system is working, however. God, give us a just peace!

St. Paul says: “After all, you know that each of you — like a father to his children — we have asked, encouraged you to act in a manner worthy of God, who calls you to his kingdom and glory. That is why we constantly thank God, because when you took over the word of God, heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as what it really is — as the word of God, who works in you, the believers.”

Whoever keeps the teachings of Christ, in this truly God’s love is perfected. God is love!

In Crooked Horn and Poltava Oblast, Russian missiles have reached civilian homes, farms and more.

In Kiev, residents are asking the ministers of culture of European Union countries to help them recover St. Nicholas Church. Elsewhere around the region of Kiev, a rocket or its shrapnel has hit residential houses and fell on a local cemetery. Fortunately, there were no casualties, though houses were destroyed.

Night 554: Seeking God’s will in the midst of war.

Another night of restlessness: alarms in Kiev; explosions heard in Vinnitsa — which we hope were our anti-missile systems. Likewise in Khmelnitsky, Zhytomyr. In the west, no change. God, grant us a just peace!

We often ask, “What is God’s will?” The Word gives us the answer: “For the will of God is your sanctification: to abstain from debauchery, so that each one may know how to keep his own body holy and in honor, and not in lustful passion, as the pagans who do not know God do. Let no one in this matter transgress and deceive his brother, for as we told you before, assuring you solemnly: the Lord is the avenger of all this. For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness. So whoever rejects these words rejects not man, but God, who after all gives you His Holy Spirit.”

Today — Sept. 1, 2023 — marked a historic occasion: Eastern churches in Ukraine switched to the Gregorian calendar. Our church in Uzhgorod is transitioning fully, with fixed holidays like Christmas and movable ones like Pascha. Deo gratias!

In Kamianske, Zytomyr and Zaryczany, representatives of several active humanitarian programs took part in a three-day meeting with themes of mercy and hope in action. The eucharist was led by different bishops each day.

Night 556: The living sacrifices we offer up in war.

Another night of restlessness, with nighttime kamikaze drone attacks on our cities and villages. God, give us a just peace!

If you want to be a true Christian, hear this Word: “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.’”

To deny oneself means to negate one’s thinking, one’s emotions, one’s old nature and to open oneself to the new Word, the new nature and the new mentality. Hence the request: “I beseech you, brothers, by the mercy of God, to give your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, as an expression of your reasonable service to God. Therefore, do not take the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may be able to discern what is the will of God: what is good, what is pleasing to God, and what is perfect.”

In Kramatorsk, Russian rockets hit the city, though people were thankfully not hurt. The same happened in other cities of the Donetsk region.

In Kyiv, meanwhile, the Capuchins held a charity concert in the church square. Among the performing artists was our Br. Sergey Kippa.

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


Nights 543,544,551 – Br. Błażej letters

Spiritual Sustenance Amidst Ukraine’s Battlefronts

August 21, 2023: The Urgency of Independence Day

As the sun sets on yet another war-torn day, an invitation from Ukraine’s Christian Relief Service, known as ХСП, reverberates through communities. The call is for a national day of fasting and prayer on August 24—Ukraine’s Independence Day. In the midst of uncertainty, a mantra unfolds among the Ukrainian populace: “We live in war, but we do not live by war.”

In Vinnitsa, hospitality is not just a word but an action. The Brothers of the Custody of Ukraine welcome “angels”—volunteers coming from the frontline areas. Br. Maciek Podolec plays gracious host to these modern-day heroes who arrived from the east to offer their support to communities under duress. The atmosphere is a mixture of fatigue and resolve.

Chernihiv, on the other hand, bears the fresh scars of recent missile attacks. The city mourns its losses, a collective sorrow symbolized through photographs that capture the city’s plight. Meanwhile, Kupyansk in the Kharkiv Region suffers new assaults that send 11 individuals to the hospital, illustrating the indiscriminate nature of the ongoing conflict.

August 22, 2023: Echoes of Conflict and Community

Amidst the darkness of war, Zaporizhia and Chernihiv face rocket attacks that further strain already fragile communities. Alarms ring out in the nation’s capital, Kiev, marking yet another chapter in Ukraine’s struggle. Yet despite these trying times, hope endures. The main street of Kiev prepares to host a “stationary parade,” featuring the destroyed equipment of Russian forces—a testament to Ukrainian resilience and an act of defiance against the enemy.

In Vinnitsa, the church becomes a sanctuary in more ways than one. Residents are invited to partake in the Rosary prayer and the Eucharist, timed to coincide with Ukraine’s Independence Day. Dnipro offers a contrasting form of spiritual and cultural nourishment—an invitation to a concert featuring Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”

At the spiritual retreat in Verbovets, 33 young people express their commitment to a life of conversion within the Franciscan Youth community. These include youth from cities as varied as Dnipro, Kyiv, Shargorod, and others, marking the expansion of these spiritual communities across the nation.

August 29, 2023: Remembering the Sacrifices

Another week begins in Ukraine, laden with the threat of rocket attacks, especially in the border regions. Yet even in this atmosphere of perpetual danger, the people find solace in their faith. Psalm 139 becomes a touchstone for comfort, reminding everyone that they are not alone—even in their darkest moments. “God is love,” the saying goes, and this belief fuels the nation’s resolve.

At the House of Fr. Pio in Kyiv, therapy sessions offer a lifeline to women grappling with unspeakable loss. These are mothers, wives, and sisters of soldiers who have sacrificed their lives at the front. This initiative underscores the emotional battleground that parallels the physical one.

Days of remembrance loom large. August 29 is set aside to honor the fallen defenders of Ukraine, followed by August 30, which is dedicated to those missing at the front. The Brothers of the Custody of Ukraine, led by Br. Blazej Suska, issue a call to prayer, urging everyone to remember these heroes and their sacrifices.

Despite the relentless cycle of violence and loss, the nation’s enduring message is simple yet profound: “God is love.”

Edited by br. Igor De Bliquy
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph

Nights 536-542 – Br. Błażej letters

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, August 14-20, 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 536: More rockets bring more death.

Yesterday morning, a great tragedy occurred. Russian terrorists with their rockets killed an entire family in the village of Shiroka Balka in the Kherson region. The family included a husband, wife and a baby daughter who was born 23 days earlier. Her 12-year-old brother died a few hours after the attack in the hospital.

In addition to this family, five middle-aged people were also killed, and many homes were ruined or damaged. God, give us a just peace.

St. Maximilian’s life is God’s word to us. Especially the giving of his life for another human is the Word. “Moses said to the people, ‘And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God demand of you? Only that you fear the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, love Him, serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and obey the commands of the Lord and His laws, which I give you today for your good.’

“‘You also love the sojourner, for you yourselves were sojourners in the land of Egypt.’”

We live in war; we do not live by war.

In Latyczow, the diocesan shrine of Our Lady of Latyczów hosted a pilgrimage of young people from Neocatechumenal communities.

Night 537: Celebrating the Assumption amidst the carnage of war.

We had a very restless night, with all of Ukraine “red” and under threat.

The terrorists’ rockets flew into Lviv and Yavoriv, 15 kilometers from the Polish border. In Lviv, fractions of rockets hit a kindergarten, stores, houses and residential buildings, setting fires; there were no casualties. In Lutsk and Volhynia, though, there were civilian casualties; in Dnieper, buildings were destroyed.

God is giving us the Word in abundance today. “A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a wreath of twelve stars.”

“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven: ‘Now has come salvation, the power and reign of our God, and the authority of His Anointed One.’”

“Christ rose from the dead as the firstborn from among those who died. For since through Man came death, through Man also will the resurrection take place. And as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive, but each according to his own order: Christ as the firstborn, then those who belong to Christ, at His coming. Finally, the end will come when He hands over the reign to God and the Father, and when He overcomes all Authority, Power and Authority.”

Like Mary, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For He has looked upon the humbling of His Servant. For, behold, henceforth I shall be blessed by all generations, for great things has the Almighty done to me.”

God is love!

On Aug. 13, we continued a “Rosary Uprising” in Krasilow’s main square, next to the statue of Mary. Since 2017, we have met on the 13th day of each month with the faithful to pray for the intentions arranged six years ago by Br. Piotr Kurkiewicz — intentions that today seem ever more relevant.

In Lviv this week, we had a breakfast with Franciscan youth and supporters of St. Francis on St. Maximilian’s feast day.

There are changes in our religious communities today in our custody of Ukraine: We extend a warm welcome to Br. Maciej Podolc, who is now in Vinnitsa.

Night 538: Where two or three gather … peace may prevail.

We had another night of rocket attacks, with all of Ukraine “red” again overnight. God, give us a just peace!

There is hope for an end to the war in Ukraine and a just peace! Let us pray together for each other and for peace in our hearts and heads! “Further, verily I say unto you, if two of you on earth shall unanimously ask for anything, they shall receive all things from my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

In Lviv, the number of injured civilians following the recent rocket attacks there has grown to 19 people, with material losses also high: more than 120 houses were destroyed.

A retreat for Franciscan Youth in Verbovets has started this week. The 33 participants range in age from 14 to 27 years and come from Dnieper to Uzhgorod.

Night 540: The war over our skies and in our minds continues.

We had another typical war night: full of alarms and anxiety. The anxiety among civilians is its own form of terrorism, of psychological warfare. God, grant us a just peace.

In the history of the Chosen People, the Words were fulfilled: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is your God, the Lord alone …” Like the Israelites, Ukrainians today are called to listen to these Words, that they might be fulfilled in the midst of war and in our hearts. For the Word continues: “It was not accomplished with your sword or with your bow. I gave you a land about which you did not toil, and cities which you did not build, and in them you dwelt.” It might as well continue: Vinnitsa and olive trees, which you did not plant, and that give you food today.

God is love!

Night 542:

It was a calmer night, but our hearts remain restless as we remember Chernihiv and the Chernihiv region. The center of the city was hit by Russian rockets, killing seven people and wounding 129, including 15 children and 15 police officers. God, grant us a just peace.

The Word reminds us that God is love and that He loves every human being, regardless of their background or nationality. God loves everyone. “Their burnt offerings and sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

God loves all nations. God is love!

Our Brother, Leonid Majewski, has shared the following details of a journey by some Capuchins recently through part of the country:

God made it possible to go to the unoccupied zone.

We covered 820 kilometers in 18 hours. As usual, we visited our military friend in Kramatorsk, and we brought food and hygiene items. With funds from good people, we also bought tires for car wheels.

Then through Lyman — we’d gotten permission earlier — we reached the village of Rydkodub, a village on the border of the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions. There we met with border guards and handed out food and sleeping bags. We talked about many interesting things. In this village, we distributed aid and talked to people.

We also met a family that received help last year in Kamiansk, who remembered us positively. Mostly elderly people live there, but there were also families with children. Forty-three kits were distributed there.

The sight of unplanted fields due to the war is very sad and heartbreaking, but I was most surprised by the planted fields where people were already working. On the way back, we stopped briefly in Zariczne, at the home of two families who were waiting for us, knowing that we would be in the area. The last stop was Slavyansk, where now our Vinnitsa parishioner Oleg, who is a surgeon, is helping to treat the wounded.

It was a trip at its best. Everyone is happy to see how God led us through suffering and hardship, allowing us to live the day in service to our neighbor.

Thank you to all the good people who made this trip possible.

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

Nights 529-534 – Br. Błażej letters

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, August 7-12, 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 529: Restlessness — and a reminder to avoid murmuring.

A night of restlessness. The Dnepropetrovsk region was attacked. There are civilian casualties in the Kherson region after overnight attacks on a residential building; a woman was killed and 12 people were wounded. A powerful S-300 missile has reached Kharkiv. God, grant us a just peace!

The Word reminds us that people can have very short memories. All it takes is a minor difficulty for someone to forget everything God has done and focus on temporary problems. Murmuring and complaining appear. The history of God’s people is a lesson for each of us.

Listen to Psalm 81 — it is God’s response to our murmuring. “My people did not listen to My voice, Israel did not obey Me. I left them, therefore, to their hard hearts, let them follow their own designs. If My people had listened to Me, and Israel had walked in My ways, I would have immediately crushed their enemies and turned my hand against their adversaries. I would flatter the Lord with those who hate Him, and their punishment would last forever. And I would feed him with choice wheat, and sow honey from the firewood.” God is love!

In Truskavets, our retreat, which focused on our “Meeting with God,” has ended. Among the presenters was Br. Jerzy Zielinski from Dnipro. In Kiev and Verbovets, meanwhile, our Franciscan youth have been experiencing the San Damiano retreat.

Our Franciscan Youth retreat in Verbovets, in fact, had 25 participants, most of them were from Lviv. Twenty-three of them made the decision to enter the path of conversion in the community of Franciscan Youth. Thank God for everything!

Night 530: Restlessness — Mourning in Pokrovsk.

There was tragedy in Pokrovsk, in the Donetsk region. Seven people were killed and 67 people — including 31 police personnel, seven rescue workers and two children — were injured in a rocket attack on a residential building in Pokrovsk.

The Word calls us to courage. “Courage! It is I who am, do not be afraid!” At this, Peter spoke up: “Lord, if it is You, make me come to You on the water!”

But at the sight of a strong wind, he began to sink and cried out: “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and grabbed him, saying: “Why did you doubt, man of little faith?” When they had gotten back into the boat, the wind died down. And those who were in the boat fell down before Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

God is love!

Night 531: More casualties in Pokrovsk, and a new drone attack.

During the night, an 18-year-old man was killed when Russian drones reached Nikopol in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Still, morning today has been calmer than previous mornings.

Our brothers, Roman Lukaszewski from Walcz and Roman Pop from Uzhgorod, celebrated birthdays this week.

In the Word, the Lord says: “I will bring the bride out into the desert and speak to her heart. And there she will answer Me as on the day she came out of the land of Egypt. And I will marry you to Myself forever, I will marry you by justice and law, by love and mercy. I will marry you to myself through faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.”

In Pokrovsk, the number of wounded after yesterday’s rocket attack rises to 81 people. Among them are 39 civilians, including two children, 31 police officers, seven firefighters and four military personnel. The rescue operation is ongoing.

Night 532: A death brings hope in the resurrection.

Sister Death came for Anna Chromy, 83, the mother of our brother Joseph Chromy, the guardian and pastor in Vinnitsa. God grant her eternal life, and Br. Joseph and the family the hope of resurrection. Jesus lives!

The Word from the Book of Wisdom refers to all the dead who have bound their lives to God: the saint, Deacon Lawrence, or the late Anna Chroma, or the victims of this war in Ukraine. “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God and their torment will not reach them. It seemed to the eyes of the foolish that they had died, their death was interpreted as misfortune and their departure from us as annihilation, and they abide in peace. Although even in human terms they suffered anguish, their hope is full of immortality.”

“He who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

God is love!

In Zaporizhzhya Oblast, there has been more shelling of civilian facilities, including houses and chapels. In the Rivne region, kamikaze drones have ruined a fuel base. But there are no casualties among the civilian population.

Night 533: More attacks in the borderlands.

It was another restless night and morning. In border regions, there are endless attacks by Russian terrorists. In other oblasts there are alarms. It’s an anxious time. God, give us a just peace.

The Word today reminds us of what Jesus said to his disciples. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to preserve his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what shall it profit a man, even if he gains the whole world, and suffers harm on his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father together with His angels, and then He will give to each according to his conduct. Verily I say unto you, some of them that stand here shall not taste death, until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

There was tragedy this week in Zaporozhye. Two young girls sang in the street. An hour later, a Russian rocket fell. One girl, 19-year-old Svetlana, died on the spot; the other, 21-year-old Kristina, died in the hospital. God, give us a just peace!

Night 534: An anxious day followed by a calm night.

Yesterday morning was full of alarms. Rockets fell over the central oblasts of Ukraine. We pray and ask for prayers for Kolomyja, from where the image of the Mother of God in Skomielna Black is from; Russian rockets hit there, too. Anti-missile systems are at work. The night, thank God, is calmer, but on the front regular war wages on. God, give us a just peace.

The Word reminds us of the beginning of the First Commandment: “Moses said to the people: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall therefore love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. The words that I command you today shall remain in your heart. Thou shalt instill them in thy sons, thou shalt speak of them while at home, while traveling, while going to bed and while rising from sleep. You shall tie them to your hand as a sign. They shall be an ornament between your eyes. Write them on the doors of your house and on your gates.’”

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

Nights 520-528 – Br. Błażej letters

A Cry for Peace: Reflections from the War Front in Ukraine

A Difficult Night (July 31, 2023)

Ukraine endured a harrowing night with rocket shelling in Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia region, Dnipropetrovsk, Kryvyi Rih, and Kherson, leading to civilian casualties and the destruction of houses. The events in Sumy further intensified the situation, with the latest attack claiming two lives and injuring twenty.

Amid the ongoing unrest, the spiritual leaders sought strength and solace in faith. Various retreats and activities were organized from Aleksandrivka to Kyiv, the Carpathian Mountains, and Lviv; Ukrainians live in war but not by war.

Alarms and Aerial Attacks (August 2, 2023)

The Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and surrounding regions witnessed as many as four alarms, with Russian drones taking to the sky. Anti-missile systems proved effective, as 23 drones were shot down.

A poignant reflection was drawn between the Warsaw Uprising and the Ukrainian War. Tales from the front line, such as those shared by a doctor from Krasyliv, encapsulate the relentless hardships soldiers and medics face.

The day also marked an international moment with the beginning of World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, attended by a group of young Ukrainians.

Night Shelling and a Plea for Love (June 4, 2023)

The night brought destruction to Kherson as Russian drones targeted a school, a hospital building, and a marketplace. In the midst of these atrocities, the faith community continued to affirm the love and truth of God’s word.

Memories from Uzhhorod captured the nation’s heart, as the Funeral Mass of a young priest, Fr. Vladislav, was held.

Pope Francis’s meeting with a young girl, Varia, in Lisbon symbolized a connection between the pope and the Ukrainian people’s plight.

A Succession of Alerts (August 6, 2023)

Russian terrorism continued to disrupt peace and tranquility in Ukraine, with intensified attacks in regions including Khmelnytskyi and Starokonstantyniv. More than 30 rockets and 27 kamikaze drones were destroyed.

Reflections from Lviv and Kharkiv emphasized the need for transformation, a ‘Transfiguration’, to find hope in faith and love.

A heart-warming solidarity emerged as the Ukrainian anthem was played in Africa and Walcz, Poland, uniting people across continents. First Lady Mrs. Agata Duda met with Ukrainian youth in Lisbon, and the emblem of Ukraine, the Tryzub, was raised on the monument, Batkivshchyna – Maty.

The Brothers of the Custody of Ukraine and the people on the ground continue to bear witness to a nation in turmoil yet resilient, relying on faith, love, and solidarity. Their messages echo a universal cry for justice, unity, and peace.

God is love, and this love fuels the Ukrainian spirit in its most trying times.

Edited by br. Igor De Bliquy
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph

Nights 515-519 – Br. Błażej letters

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, July 24-28, 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 515: A war and a baptism.

The war does not stop, and the end is not in sight. People are dying — suffering families, children, people permanently wounded, physically and mentally.

We pray for the victims of the war, for Odessa, Kharkiv, Dnipro and other cities and regions. Let us ask God for a just peace through the intercession of Saints Olga, Sharbel and Kinga — patron saints of today in different parts of the world.

Today’s Word is full of tension and drama. The old logic of man, a slave in Egypt, a slave of the commune and a slave of other spirits is shown. “[The Israelites] said to Moses, ‘Did you lack graves in Egypt, that you brought us here to die in the desert? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Did we not clearly say to you in Egypt: “Leave us alone, we want to serve the Egyptians?” For it was better for us to serve them than to die in this desert.’”

The response is that of a free man, Moses, who has already heard the voice of God — and who, despite his weaknesses, follows that voice, the Word.

“Moses answered the people: ‘Do not be afraid! Remain in your place, and you will see the salvation from the Lord that He will grant us today. For the Egyptians, whom you see now, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you will remain calm.’”

A word for every war, the one in Ukraine and the one in the head and heart, in the emotions: “Do not harden your hearts today, but listen to the voice of the Lord.” Listen more to God than to yourself! God is love!

In Dnipro, a 28-year-old military man was baptized on July 23. The baptism was immediately followed by confirmation (he was joined by another military man, who’d been baptized in a church 73 years ago; he’d been an atheist for 50 years). These provided such happy moments from the frontline city, despite the war and the constant alarms there.

Night 516: Life continues under threat of war.

War brings restless skies over all of Ukraine. There’s warfare now on the front and in the border regions.

The Word today reminds us: “We store treasure in earthenware vessels, so that from God is this overwhelming power, and not from us. We endure suffering from everywhere, but we do not give in to doubt; we live in want, but we do not despair; we endure persecution, but we do not feel alone; we are toppled to the ground, but we do not perish. We bear the dying of Jesus continually in our flesh, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our flesh. For continually we who live are delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal body. Thus, death works in us, while life works in you.” God is love.

In Vinnitsa, work continues on the creation of a local monument to St. James.

In Krasilow, we hosted another formation session of the “School of Mary,” with more formation periods to follow, while in Kyiv and Olexandria on of our brothers began the retreat for the sisters of Blessed Honorat.

Night 517: In the murmur of war, we seek heaven’s bread.

The war continues with intense fighting in the Oblasts of eastern Ukraine. We pray for a just peace.

The Word brings to mind man’s way of thinking, murmuring, judging. “And the whole congregation of the Israelites began to murmur in the wilderness against Moses and against Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘May we die by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, where we sat before pots of meat and ate bread to the full! You have brought us out into this wilderness to starve this whole multitude to death!’”

Man thinks and complains: We were better off under communism … and so on.

What does God say to this murmuring of man? “Behold, I will send you bread from heaven like rain. And there shall go forth a people, and every day they shall gather according to the need of the day. I also want to test them, whether they will follow my commandments or not. This is the bread which the Lord gives you for food.”

In Vinnitsa, we held a dedication of the monument to St. James in the vicinity of our monastery. The project had been an initiative of our brothers and of the city’s authorities. Present were our bishop, Radoslav, and the Orthodox bishop, Simeon, city authorities and our brothers, including Br. Constantine, secretary of our custody. Also present were residents of Vinnitsa.

Night 518: God steps toward us in the cloud.

Yesterday and last night were full of alerts and drone attacks. All of Ukraine was threatened, including Lviv and Uzgorod. We pray for an end to the war and for a just peace.

Today’s Word shows God stepping toward man. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak to you, and believe in you forever.’ Moses spoke, and God answered him amidst thunder. The Lord descended to Mount Sinai, to the top of it. And he called Moses to the top of the mountain.”

“But happy are your eyes that they see, and your ears that they hear. For verily I say unto you, ‘Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see that which ye look upon, and have not seen; and to hear that which ye hear, and have not heard.’”

You are happy if you see and hear God in your life. God is love!

Our formation program, “School of Mary,” was held from July 16 to 25. We thank God for his presence, for the charismatic community “Living Fire” that led the school, the participants, and especially Brothers Alexander Mogilny and Adam Trochimovich for their work.

As all this took place, though, Russian terrorist drones in Nikopol attacked residential homes and a school.

Night 519: Celebrating Ukrainian statehood in the midst of attack.

Yesterday, the city of Starokonstantinov, where our brothers live, was attacked with rockets and drones; for the Russians, the target was the military airport. Thank God, our brothers, the city and the airport were not affected. Thank God.

We continue to pray for an end to the war and a just peace. The Dnipropetrovsk region was also shelled by Russian rockets at night.

On July 28, we marked Ukrainian Statehood Day.

The Word today tells us that “In those days, God spoke all these words: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods beside Me!’”

From my personal experience, I know that I can easily create my own god in my head. But the only God is the one who revealed himself in Jesus and is love and loves you as you are. God is love!

In Nikolaevsky oblast, a local woman has coped with the war by de-mining a field and a meadow — so that she and her cow can live there.

In the Kherson region, meanwhile, a school and an agricultural facility and farm were destroyed this week.

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

Nights 509-514 – Br. Błażej letters

Stories of Resilience and Faith: July 18-23, 2023

July 18, 2023 Tuesday – 509 war night.

Amidst the ongoing conflict and war, life in Ukraine carries its share of trials and joys. On this ordinary Tuesday, the 509th war night brought no respite as 38 drones and rockets were thwarted by anti-missile systems. Tragically, cities like Odesa and Nikolaev faced rocket attacks, while the Kharkiv region saw a counterattack from the Russian army, resulting in casualties. The people yearn for peace, praying to end the hostilities and a just resolution to the conflict.

In a touching reminder, Moses’ childhood and youth story highlights God’s presence in seemingly ordinary events. Similarly, the lives of the people of Ukraine carry the same divine presence, even in mundane stories. “The heart of those who seek God will come alive,” and they find solace in knowing that God listens to the prayers of the poor and oppressed.

Life continues amidst the chaos, with glimpses of resilience and normalcy. In Vinnytsia, children gathered for a holiday meeting organized by “Caritas-Spes Vinnytsia,” providing a moment of joy and connection. Meanwhile, the Zaporizhzhya region saw a hopeful harvest, a symbol of sustenance even in trying times.

The spirit of unity and creativity thrives in Vinnytsia, with Clara Studio extending an invitation and the “School of Mary” holding its summer session. Such activities bring communities together, fostering hope for a better future.

Amidst the war, the Brothers of the Custody of Ukraine continue their work with devotion and dedication. Br. Zbigniew Sawchuk’s gathering of altar boys after the Eucharist in Lviv exemplifies the importance of faith and camaraderie. In Vinnytsia, Br. Igor Mularski’s efforts to install a statue of St. James signify a commitment to faith and its symbols.

July 19, 2023 Wednesday – 510 war night.

Ukraine continues to face the daunting reality of war, with the night skies ablaze with red from rocket attacks. Various regions, including Dnipro, Kyiv, Vinnytsia, and Khmelnytskyi, where Capuchin brothers reside, faced threats and danger. Among them, Odessa bore the brunt of the recent rocket raid.

Amid uncertainty, words of comfort and strength resonate. As Moses questioned his ability to lead, God’s response assured him, “I will be with you.” This message of empowerment extends to all, as God chooses the weak to make them strong.

Amid the chaos, stories of hope and normalcy emerge. Br. Kazimierz Guzik recounts a pilgrimage to Berdyczow, expressing gratitude for the journey’s success and the return of a church. Br. Konstantin Morozov reveals that Our Lady of Berdyczow is soon to be proclaimed the primary patroness of Ukraine in the Latin rite, instilling hope and faith.

The Capuchin brothers also share glimpses of their lives. Br. Vladislav Gmyrko celebrates a long-awaited road repair project near their residence, while Br. Leonid Kushniruk spends quality time with Krasilov’s children during their vacation. Br. Marek Lisowski commends the bravery of the Krasilov Academy children, who learn about the Church’s underground activities in their camp.

Despite the turmoil, the message remains unchanged – God is love. It is a reminder to live not solely by the war surrounding them but to cherish love, unity, and the simple joys of life.


Br. Blazej Suska bridges Vinnitsa and Walcz, sharing stories of brothers’ activities and experiences.

In these tumultuous times, the presence of God provides strength, hope, and solace, guiding the people of Ukraine through their darkest days.

July 20, 2023 Thursday – 511 war night.

Ukraine has no calm skies; the whole country is grappling with the impacts of conflict.

The chosen scripture from the Book of Exodus tells the story of Moses, a weak and fearful man, and the reassuring presence of God, who declares, “I am who I am.” This narrative reminds us of the comfort and strength we can find in God’s presence during challenging times.

Jesus’ message also provides solace to those burdened and afflicted, offering rest for weary souls. God’s love is the source of hope and support during war and hardship.

The images of destruction in Odesa, Nikolaev, and other regions are a stark reminder of the suffering endured by ordinary people. Civilian homes and buildings have been shelled, causing immense pain and hardship.

Amidst the chaos, there are also glimpses of gratitude and resilience. The children of Krasilov express their appreciation to the Capuchin Sisters and Brothers for their support during the holidays. Celebrations like Taras and Mariana’s joint birthday demonstrate the strength of community and faith in the face of adversity.

July 22, 2023. Saturday – 513 war night.

The unrest continues as missile and drone attacks persist, mainly targeting border regions. Let us pray to end the war and restore peace in Ukraine.

Today, on the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, her life serves as a powerful message from God to us. Despite her past sins, she embraced love and became a devoted evangelist, showing that sin is not a barrier to God’s forgiveness. Her response was love for love, experiencing God’s love, and sharing it with others.

In Odesa and the surrounding areas, the devastating impact of rocket attacks from the Black Sea is evident in the destruction of homes and grain stores.

In Krasilow, a parishioner and family doctor, Mr. Roman, shares his frontline experiences from the Bahmut area, shedding light on the challenges faced in the conflict.

The School of Mary commemorates its 25th anniversary on the Feast of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, giving thanks for Brother Peter Kurkevich, the founding father and longtime director of the School.

The Brothers of the Custody of Ukraine, including Br. Zbigniew Sawczuk and Br. Marek Lisowski, share glimpses of their daily lives, marking jubilees and fostering unity among their communities.

Throughout these turbulent times, the message remains constant – God is love. Let us hold on to this truth, finding solace and strength in God’s love as we navigate the challenges of war and seek a brighter future for Ukraine.

July 23, 2023. Sunday – 514 war night.

The night brings yet another barrage of rocket attacks on Odessa, with devastating consequences. The Orthodox cathedral is destroyed, and the toll of injuries and loss of life continues to rise. Amid such despair, the Word reminds us of the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, even when we are at a loss for words. The Spirit intercedes on our behalf, carrying our supplications to God.

The war continues to take its toll on Ukraine, with the reminder that it affects lives everywhere, not just in one specific region. The destruction, pain, and suffering are felt throughout the country, reminding us of the urgency to seek peace and end the conflict.

Amidst the turmoil, life continues, and the Brothers of the Custody of Ukraine celebrate significant events, like Br. Roma Lukaszewski’s 60th birthday in Walcz. These moments of joy and camaraderie provide respite in adversity.

In Kamianske, there is progress as a new asphalt road leads to the monastery and church, symbolizing hope and renewal. In Krasilow, Andrew Kinel finds solace in prayer at the church, a source of strength in troubled times.

Despite the challenges, the message remains resolute – God is love. It is this love that sustains and uplifts during the darkest hours. As we live amidst war, we must remember that love guides us, illuminating the path toward peace and healing.

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

Nights 500-508 – Br. Błażej letters

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, July 9-17, 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 500: A jubilee marked in tragedy … and a cat, lost and found.

Tonight marks a sad jubilee: The war has already lasted 500 nights and days. God, give us a just peace! The Donetsk and Zaporizhzhya regions were shelled, and there are civilian casualties.

The Word tells us: “He will remove the chariots from Ephraim, and the horses from Jerusalem; the arc of war will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the peoples. His dominion shall reach from sea to sea, from the banks of the river to the ends of the earth.”

It continues: “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 Vinnitsa, our Capuchin monastery has cellars that are visited by tourists led by professional guides. For a couple of days, the tour was hampered by … a cat, which could not be seen but could be heard.
Emergency services in the persons of Katya and Larysa acted quickly, and the cat was quickly found, fished out and brought into the embrace of its owner.

Night 501: Reconciling old wounds in the midst of a new war.

Yesterday, our thoughts were in places like Lutsk and Volyn — more so, anyway, than at the war’s front line. Paying tribute to the victims of the World War II-era Volhynia massacre, and to attempts at reconciliation between Ukraine and Poland, were more important than the war. (In the South and East, though, there were still alerts and rocket raids.) God grant us reconciliation and a just peace!

The Word reminds us: “Lord, my daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and she will live.” … “That I may at least touch His mantle, and I shall be healed.” … “Your faith has healed you!” … “The girl is not dead; she is just sleeping.” We remember that we live in war, we do not live by war.

Notes from the country this week: In Lutsk, bishops and presidents of Poland and Ukraine gathered to pay tribute to the victims of Volhynia. In Kyiv, the Father Pio House gathered children and people for art therapy.

Night 502: A still-relevant message from God.

Today’s Word presents us with a question: Is the Word relevant today, or did it only apply to the young, fledgling church?

“One spirit and one heart animated all who believed. None called his own what he owned, but they had everything in common. The apostles testified with great power to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace rested on all of them. None of them suffered privation, for the owners of the fields or houses sold them and brought the money obtained from the sale and laid it at the apostles’ feet. To each also was distributed according to need.”

God is love — and the Word is indeed relevant today.

Meanwhile, an aerial bomb was dropped on a building where humanitarian aid was being distributed, killing seven people.

Elsewhere, about two dozen children, ages 8 to 12, from the Kiev parish took part in a religious program in Oleksandrivka; through fun, games and prayer, the children sought the presence of Jesus in their lives. In Kiev, a boy from the Franciscan Youth community and who’d begun coming to meetings and to the church in September, received Holy Communion for the first time.

In Lviv, however, we’re forced to seek prayers for another little boy. Twelve-year-old Sviatoslav was fished out of a lake and is in a coma. His dad was killed in the war about six months ago. Please pray for him and his family.

Night 503: New Capuchin Cardinals and a Ukainian champion.

For the first time in a long time, the whole of Ukraine yesterday was “red,” and at one point a rocket alert spread across the country. Night was similar to the day: alarms and rockets. Is it all a response to the NATO meeting in Vilnius?

Our brother, Konstantin Morozov, celebrates his 50th birthday today. We thank God for him and for his story of life and vocation.

The Word today brings us the story of Joseph in Egypt, confirming the thought that has been with us since the beginning of the war: that is, that only God can and does bring good out of every war, out of every crisis. Deo gratias!!!

Some good news from around the world: In Rome, Pope Francis has presented a list of 20 new cardinals. In addition to Archbishop Gregory Rysio of Lodz, Poland, among the new cardinals is our Capuchin brother Luis Dri, from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is an extraordinary confessor who models himself on Fathers Leopold Mandic and Pio of Pietrelcina — and who tells penitents: “God embraces you, God loves you, God walks with you. God came to forgive, not to chastise.”

And in London, we admit it’s a bit of a pity that the Pole, Iga Swiatek lost — but only a bit of a pity, because the Ukrainian, Elina Svitolina, won.

Night 505: War keeps churning.

Today marks the anniversary of the Russian rocket attack on Vinnitsa, which killed 29 people, including two children. The nighttime drone attacks and rocket raids do not stop. People and their homes and apartments are suffering. God, grant us a just peace.

The Word brings us help in time of war:

“Have confidence in the Lord and do what is good, and you will dwell on earth and live securely. Rejoice in the Lord, and He will fulfill the desires of your heart.

“The Lord knows the days of those who act with integrity, and their inheritance will last forever. In the time of calamity they will not experience shame, in the days of famine they will be satiated.

“Depart from evil and do good, so that you may endure forever. For the Lord loves justice and does not abandon His saints.

“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord, He their refuge in time of affliction. The Lord assists and delivers them, He delivers from the wicked and preserves them, for He is their refuge.”

God is love!!!

In Vinnitsa, Brother Joseph Chromy dedicated the new medical center, “MED OK.”

Night 506: Bringing about good in the face of tragedy.

Yesterday, 21 towns and villages in the Zaporizhzhya region were shelled by Russian rockets. One person, a 41-year-old man, was killed and four people were wounded. Many houses and apartments were destroyed.

Today’s Word reminds us that out of war, God is able to bring about good.

“When the brothers themselves had already gone to Joseph, and having fallen down before him, they said, ‘We are your slaves.’ But Joseph said to them: ‘Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You once plotted evil against me, but God intended it as good, to cause what is today, that a great nation has survived. Now, therefore, do not fear; I will feed you and your children.’ And so he comforted them, speaking to them warmly.”

God is love!

Night 508: Shelling in Kharkiv.

The border regions of Ukraine are shelled and harassed by rockets and drones. There is massive fighting along the front line of about 1,200 kilometers. In the previous night and day, Kharkiv was shelled, and innocent people are suffering. Let us pray for an end to the war and a just peace.

Today’s Word reminds us that one does not always remember history or one’s own predecessors, and that the proverbial point of view can change completely over time. Change can lead to hostility, and even war.

“A new king came to rule in Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people: ‘Behold, the people of Israel are more numerous and more powerful than we are. Let us prudently act against them, so that they may cease to multiply. For in the event of war, it could join with our enemies and fight against us to get out of the land.’”

This is the thinking of man. God is love!!!

In Kiev, the Father Pio House and Christian Relief Service continue their therapeutic ministry by offering therapeutic classes for children. In Vinnitsa, meanwhile, another session of the “School of Mary” began this week.

From Br. Błażej letters nights 500-508
Edited by br. McLean Bennett
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph

Nights 491-499 – Br. Błażej letters

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, June 30-July 8, 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 491: More air raids and a car crash.

Another night of war norm: gunfire alarms, and kamikaze drone and missile raids on areas of eastern and southern Ukraine. In our area, thank God it is peaceful. We pray for a just peace for Ukraine.

The Word tells us that Jesus took on our weaknesses and bore our sicknesses: “When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed Him. And, behold, a leper came up and fell down before Him, saying: ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him and said: ‘I will, be cleansed!’ And immediately he was cleansed of leprosy.”

This week, we remembered the jubilee of the 25th anniversary of Bishop Leon Dubrawski’s episcopal sacraments. In Vinnitsa, meanwhile, Br. Igor Gumeniuk’s sister shared with us the goods from her garden. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters, and for our benefactors.

In Lvov, our brothers Zbyszek Sawczuk and Andrzej Kinel were in a head-on collision with another car, which had apparently lost control and drove into the lane in which the brothers were traveling. The brothers are injured but alive and, after being given first aid, were taken to the hospital for additional tests before returning to the monastery. The other driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Night 492: Nothing is impossible for God.

We had a peaceful night, though there is unrest related to the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Russian terrorists are planning to blow it up. God, give us a just peace!

The Word recounts a meeting between God and Abraham: “And, having worshiped them to the ground, (Abraham) said: ‘O Lord, if Thou givest me kindness, deign not to bypass Thy servant …’

“The Lord said to (Abraham): ‘Why is it that Sarah laughs and thinks: Will I really be able to give birth when I have grown old?’ Is there anything that would be impossible for the Lord? This time next year I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son.”

Nothing is impossible for God. This is what Mary heard at the Annunciation.

In the Ukrainian mountains, our brothers Konstantin, Oleksandr and Pavel spent time with young people at a formation camp.

Night 493: War comes back by night.

Last night was full of full of rocket attacks and civilian casualties in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Among the victims were children and young people. A night of alarms and drones. God, give us your just peace!

God’s prophetic word recalls that Jesus said to His apostles, “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever loves a son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

“Whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever wants to find his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

“He who receives you, receives Me, and he who receives Me, receives Him who sent Me. Whoever receives a prophet as a prophet, the reward of a prophet shall be given to him. Whoever accepts a righteous person as a righteous person, the reward of a righteous person will be given.

“Whoever gives a cup of fresh water to drink to one of the least of these, because he is a disciple, verily I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” God is love!

We led another day of summer formation for young people in the Carpathian mountains. And in Kiev, Fr. Pio’s House led a session of art therapy — painting with coffee.

Night 495: A war-torn Capuchin “birthday” celebration.

The night in our area was calm. Alarms and rockets were hear in Kiev, Dnipro, and Zaporizhzhia. In the end, three people were killed and 19 were wounded. God, give us a just peace!

Who is He …? The Word says: “When Jesus got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And, behold, a great storm broke on the lake, so that the waves flooded the boat; but He was asleep. Then they came to Him and woke Him up, saying: ‘Lord, save us, we are perishing!’ And He said to them: ‘Why are you fearful, men of little faith?’ Then, having arisen, He rebuked the whirlwinds and the lake, and there was a deep silence. And the people asked in amazement: ‘Who is He that even the winds and the lake obey Him?’” In true love, there is no fear — and God is love!

Yesterday, we Capuchins celebrated our “birthday.” The Order of Capuchin Friars Minor was approved by the Church with the bull Religionis zelus, issued by Pope Clement VII on July 3, 1528. In five years — in 2028, God willing — we will celebrate our 500th birthday.

The Order has produced 16 saints and 71 blesseds — seven of them Poles. Since its beginning, the Capuchins have given the Church 10 cardinals, two patriarchs, 69 archbishops and 278 bishops.

In Vinnitsa, our brother Patrick baptized little Milena, who, together with her mother, had to leave her family home in fear for her life and live in our neighborhood.

Construction of a statue of St. James at our monastery, meanwhile, continues underway and is being financed by the city government. The statue itself, which is already finished, was paid for by us Capuchins even before the war broke out.

Night 496: A silent night.

Night in our area was quiet, though there is increasing talk in our area about the possible blowing-up of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. At the same time, the Ukrainian army’s counterattack is slowly moving forward.

“The poor man cried out and the Lord heard him.” The Word reminds us that man’s misery is a departure from the source of love and peace, from God. “Behold, a poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and delivered him from all oppression.” The angel of the Lord surrounds the godly with a shelter to save them. The seekers of the Lord shall lack nothing!

Yesterday, terrorist rockets of the Russians damaged an apartment building in Pervomaisk, in the Kharkiv region. Thirty-one people were injured, including nine children.

Brother Maurizio, a former provincial from the province of Foggia and who was with us in Kiev, became our new General Councilor. He came to our shrine and gave us a relic of St. Padre Pio, the patron of our custody.

Night 497: More rockets … and a heartfelt thanksgiving.

Tonight was a very restless one, with heavy missile attacks all over. Lviv suffered the most. As of the early morning, the city had reported four people killed and 34 injured in rocket attacks. About 60 apartments and 50 cars were destroyed. Our brothers in Lviv, however, survived. God, give us a just peace!

Yesterday’s Word told us that “The poor man cried out and the Lord heard him.”

Today’s Psalm says that “The bonds of death have entwined me, the bonds of the abyss reached me, fear and anguish overwhelmed me. But I called upon the name of the Lord: ‘Lord, save my life!’”

Today, then, “the Lord heard me.” God is love!

Some of the friars this week visited Zariczne, a village close to the front line and that has been under shelling for nine months. People there are tired of the war. The brothers brought with them 40 packages of products.

One of the front-line military officers sent back this thank-you note:

“Good day. Emotions are overflowing us. The transmitter has been installed. What a beautiful thing. Everyone has connections up to a hundred meters. You would see their faces. They can talk to their loved ones. Now a big thank you from all users. You guys are the best.

“Thanks a lot for the other gifts, but the transmitter, it’s also a connection not only to work, but also to family. I hope you understand that. Sometimes it is very important for us. You and God do a lot for us. Thank you all.”

God is love!

Night 498: The Gospel in the midst of death.

Lviv is in mourning. Nine civilians were killed by yesterday’s Russian rocket attack, which also left 49 wounded. There were also civilian casualties in Dnipro. Tonight was full of alerts, while in the east the Ukrainian army leads a slow counterattack.

The Word, though, brings us good news: “Jesus, coming out of Capernaum, saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs house and said to him: ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him. While Jesus was sitting in the house behind the table, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and His disciples. Seeing this, the Pharisees said to His disciples: ‘Why does your Teacher eat together with tax collectors and sinners?’ He, hearing this, said: ‘It is not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are unwell. Go and try to understand what is meant by “I want mercy rather than sacrifice.” For I did not come to appoint the righteous, but sinners.’”

God is love — especially for sinners in need of conversion. God is love!

The brothers now are part of a pilgrimage to Bilshivtsev. About 110 people are on the trip from Lviv to the shrine of Mary Queen of Peace and Reconciliation.

From Br. Błażej letters nights 491-499
Edited by br. McLean Bennett
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph

Nights 487-490 – Br. Błażej letters

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War

On June 26, 2023, we found ourselves amid another restless war night, peppered with rocket threats from various directions. Amidst this turmoil, we find solace in our faith, drawing strength from the words addressed to Abram and the Apostles. They remind us not to pass judgment and to focus on our self-growth before critiquing others, reinforcing the principle, “God is love”.

Back in Kyiv, we held our monthly Eucharist of the Christian Relief Service in the chapel at our shrine of Fr. Pio, upholding our traditions and spiritual commitments.

Updates from the fraternity: Sergey Kippa shares his interactions with the guardian of Kraków and his journey to Rome. In Kyiv, Viktor Deszuk organized a day of recollection for the local SFO community, featuring prayer, discussion, and Mass.

Our enduring message amidst this conflict remains: “God is love.” This is the essence of our faith, our solace in these troubled times.

June 27, 2023, our 488th war night, yet a calm one compared to the usual chaos. However, unrest prevails in the east. Amidst all this, we turn to the words of Abram addressing Lot, learning about resolving disputes, and seeking unity. Our faith shines as our guide, the light in our lives, reminding us to take the narrow, righteous path, reinforcing the divine mantra: “God is love.”

In Kyiv, at the House of Fr. Pio, we partnered with the Christian Relief Service and the Joint Veterans of ATO for a project, “Give hope to mom”. We honor the women of this war, the brave 11,000 Ukrainian women standing firm on various fronts.

Sharing updates from the brothers: Sergey Kippa spent his day in a formation session in Rome. After presenting our Ukrainian situation, we received solidarity and support from brothers worldwide. The shared empathy is palpable, manifesting as prayers for us from a large group of Franciscans in India.

In Lviv, Kazimierz Guzik undertook a pilgrimage to St. Sigismund Gorazdovsky, offering thanks and preparing for the upcoming Berdyсz Capuchin pilgrimage.

From Starokonstantinov, Stanislaw Manski reports on the 25th-anniversary celebration of Br. Leonid Michalec’s priestly ordination, along with the parish indulgence in honor of St. John the Baptist.

On June 28, 2023, our 489th war night, we experienced relative calm, with attention focused on the counterattacks of the Ukrainian army. Our prayers aim for minimal loss of life. Yet, suffering persists, with a rocket striking Kramatorsk and causing casualties, including a child. We plead for a just peace.

Drawing strength from the Word, we remember God’s assurance to Abram: “Fear not, Abram, for I am your defender…”

In Kyiv, we continue the therapeutic project “Give hope to moms” with the Christian Relief Service, offering support to mothers who have lost their sons in the war since 2014. Br. Konstantin Morozov plays a key role in this endeavor.

In Vinnytsia, we received a visit from Jacek, a devoted volunteer, at our Volunteer Center. We also perform essential renovations, replacing old windows and doors while maintaining our charitable operations. We offer thanks to our benefactors for their generous support. Meanwhile, Brother Oleksandr Mogilny speaks in an interview on Credo, sharing insights about our mission.

From Lviv, Sergey Voronyuk shares his joy in guiding the “Koinonia” community’s retreat in Schidnytsia, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast’, emphasizing the spiritual enrichment experienced during these days.


From Br. Błażej letters nights 487-490
Edited by br. Igor De Bliquy
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph