“It has already been a year since the war hit Ukraine, dragging it into a vortex of terror, death and flight of the population. The presence of our friars, in this time, has never failed, guaranteeing every possible type of support to the people overwhelmed by negative events. I was able to visit our convents and houses in Ukraine". These are the words of Br. Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General, on the occasion of the anniversary of the conflict in Ukraine. “I met our friars and refugees at our facilities, where several families and children told me about the deep wounds this conflict is leaving in their hearts and lives. As an Order of Franciscan Friars Minor, we continue to stand by the local population, showing signs of humanity in a context that has become inhuman".
The Minister continues: “In terms of concrete activities, many projects have been launched, and I am grateful to be able to return to our family of benefactors with a return on programs in progress and completed. The OFM General Curia, through the Fondazione OFM Fraternitas, in fact provides direct support to the missions of the Franciscan Order present in Ukraine. All the funds received were sent to Ukraine and neighboring countries, to also support migrants and refugees".
The Franciscan Province is present in Ukraine with 16 friaries and 65 friars serving 54 parishes; some of which are in areas that have already fallen under the control of the Russian army. 4 other houses are present, with the Foundation of All Saints of the Seraphic Order of the Byzantine Rite.
Franciscan friars are working courageously to bring hope to the men, women and children of Ukraine. From day one, Br. Danyil Botvina, OFM, Provincial of the Franciscan Province of St. Michael the Archangel in Ukraine, sent an urgent request for funds to help provide food, medicine and shelter to refugees experiencing this tragedy.
Fondazione OFM Fraternitas has made it possible to launch 25 social, aid and support programs for the population, for a total spent on behalf of the Ukrainian population of just over 600 thousand euros. First aid and emergency projects, assistance and reception for people and family victims of war (in Italy and Ukraine), the arrangement of drinking water systems, the launch of recreational spaces for children in our facilities and the supply of generators electric and gas for families.
“We continue helping people as we can, the activities are developing and we have created a social network. Poverty and the gap are growing day by day. We stand next to the people, not only in Zhytomyr, but also in the villages. With such young friars we have started a Franciscan charity program to support refugee families who need everything. We load our minibuses and deliver the basic necessities. Each friar does something in our religious province, and we go to zones and areas of conflict, to the border with Russia, even partially occupied territories, even risking our lives". These are the words of Br. Cristian Kryvakivskyy, OFM, who adds: “We obtain aid thanks to benefactors from other countries. Sometimes we friars go outside the Ukraine to find supplies to distribute when we are allowed to go out. Thanks to the benefactors we are building a bomb shelter that can accommodate many people. We want to be next to people and we've been doing it for a year. We pray and help, we pray by helping”.
“Many people in Ukraine today are still facing hunger, homelessness and displacement as this horrific war rages on. There are so many challenges ahead of us, programs and people hoping for support”; so Br. Massimo Fusarelli, who continues: “I will continue to pray more strongly and to commit myself so that the support necessary to alleviate the material and moral pains of all people who are in despair will never be lacking, and to try to be a sign concrete form of Christian hope. Thank you to each of our benefactors for allowing us to support the Ukrainian people.”