‘We have hope’

Surviving in Ukraine after one year of full-scale war.

“It is a miracle that we are still alive,” Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, told 80 members of the press. “So many good people around the world are united with us in their prayers and in their generosity.”

On February 8, 2023, Aid to The Church In Need (ACN International) hosted an online zoom call with His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk and the Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, Mons. Visvaldas Kulbokas. The call was moderated by Maria Lozano of ACN International. They discussed conditions for the church and for Christians in the Ukraine, including their thanks for Christians around the world who have lifted up their country in prayer over the past year.

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched an official military invasion of Ukraine, and has continued to push forward claiming land, destroying cities and making a devastating impact on Ukraine. Lonzano began the call by reminding participants, however, that “the conflict has [actually] been going on since 2014 in Ukraine.”

“It’s been many years of wars, but one year of full-scale war.”

Ukraine Archbishop Shevchuk blessing corpses in Chernihiv.
Liturgy in the air raid shelter. Aid to the Church in Need.

Pastoral work

When asked about how they’ve managed to survive a full year after this full-scale invasion of Russia, His Beatitude Shevchuk honestly answered, “I have to say, I don’t know how. It is a miracle” that can be attributed, in part, to the global support Ukraine has received. But from a humanitarian point of view, he said, the situation in Ukraine is deteriorating. “Almost 15 million Ukrainians have been forced to leave their homes. Many of them – around 7 million – are refugees and have left Ukraine. We are so grateful the European nations are receiving and accepting Ukrainian refugees.”

His Beatitude Shevchuk said that many people are returning to their homes but have no electricity, heating systems, or the fundamentals to survive. He said, “Russia is methodically destroying the critical infrastructure of the Ukrainian cities. In this moment, 50 percent of the electricity supply in Ukraine is destroyed.”

Mons. Kulbokas described one woman he met who puts in headphones and turns on her vacuum cleaner when she hears the alarm bells, because the headphones help drown out the sound of nearby explosions. “People don’t want to continuously hear missiles and drones and explosions,” he said.

Another story Mons. Kulbokas gave was of an officer who spent five months as a prisoner of war. When he was released, he was asked “What does victory mean for you?” He responded by saying, “I want to see our Ukraine as a beautiful country – united and free of corruption.” As Mons. Kulbokas noted, the officer didn’t say anything about Russia. “He mentioned that for him the victory would be protecting and building the future of Ukraine.”

“We need prayer; we need pastoral work; we need charity in order to help those people build the Ukraine and build a beautiful country,” Mons. Kulbokos said. “To build a country that is inspired by humanity. That is why we just need to stay together.”

The church is doing its best to heal wounds, His Beatitude said. He mentioned that almost 80 percent of the people in Ukraine do need some rehabilitation to overcome their trauma, whether psychological, physical or spiritual.

Father Vitaliy Vojetsa helping refugees.

What is to come?

“We don’t know what to expect in the future. We are receiving concerning news from the frontline that Russia is escalating the situation,” said His Beatitude Shevchuk.

“We have hope – if we managed to survive for one year, it’s a miracle, and I think Ukraine will prevail. There’s an increasing hope among a different kind of people in Ukraine.”

The two Ukrainian guests expressed their gratitude to participants: “Today I take this opportunity to thank everyone. We feel your presence. We feel your closeness. Your prayers are producing miracles. Every week I hear stories about people – from military chaplains – who tell about miracles,” concluded Mons. Kulbokas. His Beatitude Shevchuk said, “Thank you for being with us in such a difficult situation. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for conveying a truth . . . Thank you for being our friends.”


  • Kristen Parker

    Kristen is a freelance writer for Christian Courier. She recently married her husband, Chris. She has a passion for words and house plants.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *