Civilians line up to board a train in Odessa as they flee Russia's invasion of Ukraine Civilians line up to board a train in Odessa as they flee Russia's invasion of Ukraine 

Bishop of Odessa expresses gratitude to ACN for Ukraine support

Catholic Bishop Stanislav Šyrokoradjuk thanks Aid to the Church in Need for its help to the local Church in Odessa, as the strategic Ukrianian city on the Black Sea prepares for an attack by Russian forces.

By Lisa Zengarini

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Odessa-Simferopol has thanked the Ponfitical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) for its prompt and generous support for the Church in Ukraine.

Awaiting the attack by Russian forces

Odessa has so far been spared the worst of Russia's war on Ukraine, but a military offensive against this strategic city, which is the country's main port, is expected at any moment, and conflict marks every minute in the life of the population, says Bishop Stanislav Šyrokoradjuk.

In a video-message to ACN, which is dedicated to providing pastoral and humanitarian assistance to persecuted Christians around the world, the Bishop explains that those who could have left for safer destinations. 

Those who remain, he adds, sleep in basement shelters to the sound of air raid sirens, and are sustained by material aid for basic needs, but also by prayer.

“We constantly hear air raid warnings and from time-to-time shooting. It’s very unsettling but at the moment, thank God, the city is relatively calm. We are sleeping in a basement shelter, but during the day we are here and can freely pray and work.”

Taking the most vulnerable to safe places

One of the first priorities has been to make sure that the most vulnerable, especially children, are taken to safe places.

“We’ve set up a place 230 kilometers away from here, which was previously a children’s facility, but today is a center for displaced people. Some children, and young families with children, are living there. We are looking after these people,” Bishop Šyrokoradjuk said.

Priests supporting the population

In these dramatc circumstances, priests have taken on other roles besides that of shepherds of souls.

“The presence of priests in churches is of great importance to people. Priests celebrate Mass, organize prayers, and strengthen the spirit. In addition to this, there are food packages, other essentials, and hot meals. The cellars under the churches are open and always available for people to take refuge," Bishop Stanislav told ACN.


Presently, no one is entering Odessa, not even refugees from Crimea, or other territories, because the city is not safe.

Many of those with financial means have left for safer places, either in the west of Ukraine, or in neighboring countries, leaving an eerie sensation of emptiness in the city. But those who remain stand together united, whatever are their religious beliefs, said Bishop Šyrokoradjuk.

“There is unity in the city and great ecumenical unity among believers. The war has made us very united, not just Catholics, but also people of other confessions and cultures.”

Constant prayer

In the face of this devastating war, many people turn to prayer for peace, their  safety, but also for those who have been killed in the conflict. 

“We pray daily for peace. It’s important to us to pray for everyone, but especially for those who have died," the Bishop said. “Every day we celebrate a Mass with a requiem for all those who have died, including soldiers and all war victims.”

ACN sending $1.5 millions to Ukraine

In his video-message Bishop Šyrokoradjuk expressed deep gratitude to Aid to the Church in Need for its active solidarity and readiness to help, alongside other organizations.

Listen to our report

In response to the outbreak of war in Ukraine ACN has sent an aid package of $1.5 million. According to a statement from the executive president of ACN, Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern, the funds are or priests and religious men and women, who are working across the country in parishes, with refugees, in orphanages and homes for the elderly.

09 March 2022, 12:24