There were many emotions, smiles, and sincere joy for the university’s successes. This year’s 10th Charitable Evening and silent auction in Kyiv was significant, for it united such a great amount of benefactors, donors, civic activists, and representatives of Ukraine’s and the world’s intelligentsia who are concerned about the university’s future. The sum raised was also a record, more than 10 million hryvnias for the university’s development, in particular for student scholarships and support for professors.
The 10th Charitable Evening started atmospherically with cocktails with the Honorary Committee, the opening of the silent auction, and a showing of the clothing collections of noted designer Oksana Karavanska and the Ukrainian clothing brands ZERNO and MOI. The emcees of the event, UCU’s good friends Olha Freimut and Oleksandr Pedan, provided a wonderful festive mood. Throughout the evening the guests enjoyed the music of 16-year-old violin virtuoso Ilya Bondarenko and noted pianist and laureate of international competitions Olena Zhukova. In the second half of the celebration, Taras Chubay and Plach Yeremii made an incredible impression.
At the festive table, after a joint prayer led by UCU Rector Fr. Bohdan Prach, the guests had the opportunity to listen to a special video address by the Head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who thanked all UCU’s benefactors for the traditional annual meeting at the charitable banquet and the support of “the only university in the post-Soviet space which is an important forum for the presence of the Catholic Church in Ukraine’s educational field and a catalyst of transformation, development, and change in Ukraine.”
“We are convinced that Ukraine’s future is being forged at UCU, so I again thank the benefactors who are our partners, co-workers in building a new Ukraine. Thank you for your sacrifices and understanding that this educational institution exists thanks to you,” added His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk.
Edward Lucas, British journalist, publicist, and former chief editor of “The Economist,” then spoke. He called UCU “the finest institution of its kind in the region… a symbol of integrity and excellence in Ukraine.”
“I am honored to be able to help in this important mission, the development of UCU… a university where admission and the awarding of qualifications are based on academic achievement, not cash and connections,” noted Lucas. “But UCU is not just a factory for producing the high achievers that Ukraine needs for its future. What makes it truly special is its deep Christian ethos. For me the most marvelous feature of UCU is that it combines its commitment to scholarly excellence with a spirit of humility and service… UCU to me epitomises the greatest intellectual, social and moral traditions of the Catholic Church. It sets high standards for the strong, while treating the weak with gentleness. I urge you to open your hearts to the message for which it stands.”
UCU President Bishop Borys Gudziak gave a ceremonial speech with words of gratitude: “This evening we understand that this work together is important for addressing problems and challenges. So today I feel incredible warmth and, reflecting on my ministry as bishop, on the experience of UCU in this great community, I feel like a very fortunate person. First of all, I want to thank you, for your love, sincerity, generosity, and for being together,” emphasized Bishop Borys Gudziak. “Today we should leave here with practical and moral ‘homework,’ with kindness, mutual love, and a new determination to roll up our sleeves and work on solving Ukraine’s problems. There are great grounds to believe that this change will not stop, for when in 2010 we were preparing a Comprehensive Campaign to raise 60 million dollars, they called us fantasizers, dreamers… But thanks to your help this happened, and today for now the tenth time we are gathering in Kyiv, and many of us have already had the opportunity to see the fruits of these great sacrifices.”
At the conclusion of UCU’s 10th Charitable Evening, gratitude was expressed, the winners of the lottery and the auction of works of art were announced, and the Light of Justice Award for moral, spiritual, and ethical leadership was presented to Natalia Sedletska, a journalist and member of an international journalistic network, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.
Prepared by Oksana Levantovych
Photos: Oleksandr Laskin