A photo of the interreligious delegation to Ukraine A photo of the interreligious delegation to Ukraine  #SistersProject

Sr. Kinsey: 'Ukrainians caring for one another in midst of brutal war'

As an international and interreligious group visits Kyiv to pray for peace, Sr. Sheila Kinsey says that Ukrainians are countering the danger they face each day with extreme care for the well-being of their neighbor.

By Devin Watkins and Svitlana Dukhovych

Over a dozen faith leaders from various religions traveled to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv this week to pray together for peace in the war-torn nation.

The high-level interreligious delegation came at the invitation of Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko, three months after Russia invaded its neighbor.

Sr. Sheila Kinsey, FCJM took part in the pilgrimage, and spoke to Vatican News’ Svitlana Dukhovych about the peace mission.

Sr. Sheila serves as the Executive Co-Secretary of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Union of Superiors General and of the International Union of Superiors General.

Prayer and solidarity

She said the purpose of the visit was “prayer and solidarity”, and not about gathering information, and involved the group listening and talking to many people about their current situation.

The delegation consisted of Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims, Protestants, and Evangelical Christians.

“What we're doing is bonding together as a community, and as we pray we find passages from our traditions that speak to us of peace. We are praying and really uniting with one another in a way that involves sharing our lives and hope. We find that we are in solidarity with them and that the purpose is then to take this back and to share it.”

Sr. Sheila added that one Scripture passage that has offered a shining light comes from John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”

Trusting one another

The American-born nun praised the sense of solidarity among a people suffering from war.

“What was also very moving is how kind they are to one another. They just speak the truth about what's happened, but they are very solicitous of the well-being of each other, even when you talk to them you can see the tenderness they have with one another.”

Sr. Sheila added that the Ukrainians she met seem to embrace a “sense of being connected to each other” beyond the daily danger they face from bombings and military aggression.

“There is a sense of them wanting to count on one another,” she said, “to have a sense of trusting one another, that they all matter with one another, that you have a sense where the leadership in the government clearly is expressing care for them.”

Painful cultural destruction

The interreligious delegation visited the Kyiv suburb of Irpin where Caritas—the Church’s humanitarian arm—has set up a center to offer food and shelter to people displaced by the war.

Sr. Sheila said one of the most painful experiences of the trip, for her, was visiting a Cultural Centre in Kyiv and walking on the broken glass caused by Russian bombing.

The feeling, she said, was that the aggression seemed to be motivated by a desire to “take away their heritage and what you dream about as a culture”, as well as by the drive to intimidate residents.

But in the end, said Sr. Sheila, her delegation of religious leaders hopes to spread a message of peace and spirituality, and leave Ukraine with the desire to be “persons of integration.”

Listen to the full interview
26 May 2022, 16:24