On the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Massimo Fusarelli OFM, Minister General, said, ‘A year has already passed since a terrible war was inflicted on Ukraine, dragging its people into a vortex of terror, death, and flight. The presence of our friars, during this time, has never failed, as they work to support the people overwhelmed by these destructive events. I was able to visit our friaries in Ukraine and met families and children. I saw the deep wounds this conflict is leaving in their hearts and lives.’

He continues, ‘Today many people in Ukraine are still facing hunger, homelessness and displacement as this horrific war rages on. With our whole hearts we thank the worldwide Franciscan family and our benefactors who have contributed to OFM Fraternitas Foundation that provides direct funding for the work of the friars in Ukraine and supports refugees in neighbouring countries.’

Cristian Kryvakivskyy, OFM reports, ‘We continue helping people as we best we can. Everyday come urgent requests for provide food, medicine and shelter for refugees experiencing this catastrophe. The refugee families need everything. We load our minibuses and deliver the basic necessities. Each friar does something. We go to areas of conflict, to the border with Russia, even partially occupied territories, risking our lives. Sometimes we friars can go outside Ukraine to find supplies to distribute when we are allowed to go out. 

‘Thanks to our benefactors we are building a bomb shelter in Zhytomyr 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,’

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. Four other houses are present, with the Foundation of All Saints of the Seraphic Order of the Byzantine Rite.