Ukraine has been repelling Russian attacks for three months now. Ukrainian defenders managed to liberate several oblasts and significantly reduce the threat of capturing the capital. These three months of war showed the strength of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the unity of the Ukrainian people, the people who became a symbol of invincibility and indomitability for the entire civilized world.
The well-known historian Timothy Snyder named ten reasons why Ukraine’s victory is important for the world. In particular, he emphasizes that Ukraine’s victory is the only way to achieve peace and protect Ukrainians. Victory is vital for the region’s security and for safeguarding global democracy.
“If Ukrainians hadn’t fought, if they had capitulated, our future, the future of democracies, would be very gloomy indeed. Through their struggle, Ukrainians gain time for other democracies, and I believe we need to use this time to think about the future. We need to think about the future when Ukraine joins other democracies in various forms of cooperation, and the future in a broad sense,” said Timothy Snyder.
How is the UCU community and its donors working toward Ukraine’s victory in this war on their own small front? Read the report on the third month of the war to find out.
Humanitarian and Medical Front
During the third month of the war, in collaboration with UCU’s philanthropists and long-term partners, the university provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine in the amount of $643,813. Of this amount, 56% was spent on medical needs, 14% on food purchases and 13% to support migrants. Another portion of the funds was spent on personal protection equipment for our soldiers, transport services, etc. In total, since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, together with the benefactors of our university, we managed to provide aid to those in need in the amount of more than three million dollars.
“The whole civilized world is now on a great front. Ours consists of several small ones. UCU is also a small front of its own, helping the Ukrainian army ensure victory. Our students are a powerful energy. Since the first days of the full-scale war, they try to be where they need to be: some volunteer, some help the displaced persons, and others work on the medical front. There are many challenges, but our response is effective. Humankind has realized how dangerous Russia is, and if Ukraine does not stop it, this crisis can become global. We thank God for our defenders – brave Ukrainian soldiers who prevent this evil from spreading. Thank you, dear partners, for your comprehensive support: financial, informational, and humanitarian. Do not get tired of calling out to the world that Ukraine needs help. Be with us. Stand up for us! God bless you, Ukraine, and our soldiers,” said UCU Rector Fr. Bohdan Prach.
The UCU Volunteer Center continues its activities on the humanitarian front.
During the third month of the war, the center’s volunteers received various aid, including food from Poland, medicines from their active partner, the French branch of “Plast,” as well as 3 tons of medical supplies from the Union of Ukrainian Organizations of Australia (tourniquets, bandages, first aid kits, defibrillators, etc.). 1280 packages of biscuits were transferred from Loyola University (US) and 1,800 sleeping bags from the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. All of this help from the UCU Volunteer Center was sent to the military and medics.
At the request of the Volunteer Center, 250 fleece jackets and 230 sets of underwear for our defenders were sewn. The community of the Ukrainian Catholic University handed over an Isuzu pickup to the Ukrainian military. The Rector of UCU, Fr. Bohdan Prach, consecrated the car and blessed our soldiers.
“Now, when we are at war, one can see who true patriots of Ukraine are. Today we accepted this SUV as a gift from the Ukrainian Catholic University. In a week, it will be used in combat missions and help our unit. We are very grateful to the entire UCU community for their assistance: it is important for us, for Ukraine, and its security. We will be the victors!” Said Oleh, a soldier who came to receive the car.
UCU students continue to work on the production of thermal batteries. This month, they handed over 1,423 pieces to the military.
Since the first days of the war, the UCU Student Government has actively volunteered, collecting and purchasing protection and safety equipment as well as tactical medical supplies. During the three months of the war, students sent more than 500 parcels to our defenders. The Government Volunteer Headquarters cooperates with such organizations as Plast, Lviv Volunteer Medical Battalion and Together for Ukraine Charitable Foundation.
Members of the student organization Ukraine United, operating at the Ukrainian Catholic University, have made several humanitarian aid trips to Kharkiv and the Donetsk region over the past month.
“Every two weeks, members of the Ukraine United student organization bring aid to the front,” said volunteer Olha Riznichenko.
“During the last trip, several brigades in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions received fleeces, tactical gloves, buffs, bulletproof vests, walkie-talkies, tactical first aid kits, and waterproof military sleeping bags that allow for more comfortable sleep in the trenches. We also brought special clothes and medicines for the hospitals in the combat zone,” said Yuriy Muryn, a UCU graduate and the head of the organization.
Russia’s military actions on the territory of Ukraine negatively impact the entire food supply chain. In cooperation with the Center for Volunteering and Protection, UCU organized the process of purchasing and transferring essential food supplies for civilians and military personnel to Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Chernihiv, Sumy, Poltava, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhia, Vinnytsia Luhansk, Ternopil and Lviv regions.
Since the beginning of the war, the Volunteering and Help Center and UCU have provided three shelters for IDPs in Lviv. People can stay there for a time to rest and plan their further route. They are also provided with basic services and necessities.
The UCU Volunteer Hundred donated a number of essential medical and technical supplies and protection equipment to the military and medical institutions. These include tourniquets, hemostatic bandages and dressings for servicemen, medicines, medical consumables, gas masks and antidotes for medical services and military medics, etc. Hundreds of volunteers have imported and delivered more than 3 tons of provisions to the front line.
Teachers of the Department of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are engaged in volunteer work to provide technical rehabilitation equipment to hospitals in Ivano-Frankivsk and Borynia, where wounded civilians and military personnel are treated.
Experimental samples of tourniquets made by a volunteer group of the Faculty of Applied Sciences are being tested in cooperation with paramedics on the home front.
Our students and staff continue to volunteer, participating in various initiatives, i.e. baking cookies and making energy bars, writing letters for the military, weaving camouflage nets, and working with activists, internally displaced children, geriatric nursing homes and institutions for children with disabilities.
The Operation Ship-a-Bear project, organized by US volunteers Jody Gutierrez and her son Justin Gutierrez, is truly special for us. This project donates teddy bears from American children to Ukrainian children through UCU. American schoolchildren add signed postcards of support to each teddy bear, and we pass the toys on to the children of war-afflicted refugees. The first batch of bears was already given to children living in the UCU shelter.
Khrystyna Machynska, the project coordinator at the UCU Development Department, notes that Ukrainian children were pleasantly surprised by such gifts: “They try to translate wishes on postcards, read them out and share with others. These bears are more than toys. They are a part of your heart that you share with us. We thank you for being so supportive of Ukraine and Ukrainian children.”
“We hope that these teddy bears bring a glimmer of hope and happiness to the children who have gone through so much,” said Jodi Gutierrez. Along with her son Justin, she sent the bears to Ukrainian children in Ukraine and Poland.
A special website gathering information about UCU’s work during the war continues to share up-to-date information on the situation in Ukraine and the university in English, covering all the projects initiated by the university during these challenging times in detail. UCU leaders are actively commenting on events in Ukraine through the media. International media such as CBC, CNN, National Catholic Reporter, The Pillar, WNEP and others wrote about the university’s activities during the war.
The project dedicated to collecting personal stories, “Little Stories of a Big War,” continues to develop. Four more stories have been released. The media platforms The Ukrainians, Espreso.TV, and Reporters act as media partners of the project.
A new project, “Network of Solidarity and Strategic Partnership,” has been launched to support talented students, graduate students, and teachers. In a short period of time, 48 universities worldwide became UCU’s partners in this project.
Teachers at the UCU Center of Foreign Languages continue translating media materials of the university and its partners into multiple languages.
On May 13, the University of Notre Dame, one of the United States’ leading educational institutions, signed an agreement with our university to significantly expand academic, spiritual, and cultural cooperation between the institutions in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and in the spirit of a long-term partnership with UCU. You can read about the five primary components of this collaboration in the article.
“The war in Ukraine is a global tragedy. We stand in solidarity with the courageous people of Ukraine and with our longtime partners at UCU,” says Father Jenkins, President of Notre Dame. “For many years, through its Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the University has hosted guest scientists from UCU while our scientists have worked in Ukraine. Now that Ukrainians are opposing Russia’s invasion, the role of UCU and Ukrainian universities has become even more prominent: both in supporting Ukrainian scholars and researchers and preparing for the reconstruction of the war-torn country. In conversations with our colleagues from UCU, we came up with several initiatives that should provide significant support and facilitate our cooperation.”
On May 15, Bishop Borys Gudziak, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Philadelphia Archdiocese of the UGCC, founder and president of the Ukrainian Catholic University, was the honorary speaker at the graduation celebrations at the University of Notre Dame. Thus, he had had the opportunity to address more than three thousand graduates, their parents, and the friends and guests of the university on behalf of Ukraine.
“Notre Dame gave a bold and exceptional response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. My presence here shows your sincere solidarity. It is a testament that the university’s leadership and faculty know how to sincerely love, accept, serve, bless, and support those who suffer.” Said Bishop Borys Gudziak.
The UCU delegation took part in the Advanced Leadership Program 2022 in Rome, organized by the Nanovik Institute of European Studies, University of Notre Dame, US. The event brought together the leaders of the Partnership of Catholic Universities in Central and Eastern Europe.
On May 17, UCU signed a Memorandum of Understanding, Support, and Academic Cooperation with Tzu Chi University, which became UCU’s first academic partner in Taiwan. Since the first days of the war, this university has actively supported Ukraine on humanitarian, spiritual and educational fronts. The memorandum provides for four annual student scholarships and humanitarian aid for the UCU Volunteer Center.
“Ukrainian Catholic University is known for melding religious spirit, ethical education and training. These are the values that Tzu Chi University also professes. The UCU campus became a refuge for Ukrainians during the war. You supported your colleagues, students, teachers, those who had to leave their homes, and those who lost everything. By signing this Memorandum of Understanding, Tzu Chi University will make every effort to support Ukraine and UCU in humanitarian aid, cooperation in developing distance education, the exchange of teachers and students, and research. Together, we will ensure the quality and sustainability of higher education, which is a fundamental value of the UN’s Global Goal 4, which applies to all of us,” said Ingrid Y. Liu, President of Tzu Chi University (Taiwan).
Fundraising is underway as part of a campaign to support UCU students. The Committee of Calgary Friends of UCU (Canada) and the Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation in Canada organized an online event, “Keep UCU Strong”, as part of the “Adopt a Student” campaign to support students. During the event, 84,000 Canadian dollars were raised, which will provide for twenty yearly scholarships for UCU students.
On May 2, Timothy Dolan, American Cardinal of the Catholic Church and Archbishop of New York, visited UCU. With the RCC Archbishop-Metropolitan of Lviv Mieczysław Mokrzycki and the delegation, Cardinal Timothy Dolan met with the Ukrainian Catholic University leadership, the families of IDPs who found refuge at UCU during the war, and student volunteers at the Volunteer Center.
“I thought I would come to Ukraine and see a great depression. Yes, I see sadness and pain caused by the war, and it pains me, yet I am impressed by the vitality, faith, and solidarity of Ukrainians,” said the Archbishop of New York.
Like in the first two months of the war, UCU locations continue to receive internally displaced persons and guests from different regions of Ukraine and provide them with necessary aid and support.
During the third month of the war, 58 IDPs were accommodated in various UCU locations and a total of 827 over the three months of the war. Currently, 125 people reside in the UCU Collegium and the building on Ivan-Paul II Avenue. 73 of them are internally displaced persons.
UCU continues to provide shelter for its guests: representatives of organizations who come to Lviv from other regions of Ukraine or other countries to provide various assistance, including volunteer and professional services. Representatives of 15 different organizations use the university’s lecture halls in different locations for their activities.
Also, during the three months of the war, five glass painting workshops were held in different locations of UCU with temporarily displaced persons, children, and volunteers. In total, more than 70 participants took part in the activities during the war.
In addition to the regular daily liturgical practices, the Dean’s Office of Pastoral Affairs provides spiritual care for IDPs living in UCU locations.
On May 4, in the Church of St. Sophia the Wisdom of God at UCU, brothers from the Taizé International Christian Community (France) prayed with UCU students and Lviv residents, expressing solidarity with Ukrainians. The brothers expressed their admiration for the strength and courage of Ukrainians during the war.
“When the siren blared during the prayer, we didn’t know what would happen. At that moment, I understood the message we wanted to convey to Ukrainians was not that important. You, Ukrainians, are the most important message for us. Because you stand tall, and you are strong. We admire your strength and courage. It is incredibly touching to be with you at this time of war, a war that none of us expected. Since the full-scale invasion of Russia on the territory of Ukraine, we are very close, and we want to express our friendship and support with this visit,” said Brother Benoit in the Church of St. Sophia the Wisdom of God.
On May 19, the graduation celebrations of the formation program of the Student Collegium “Christian Spirituality in the Postmodern Age” took place. “During the graduation festivities, everyone had the opportunity to put a candle on the map of Ukraine – their home region or the one they wish to pray for. I lit a candle in Chernihiv as it is the city where I come from.” Says a graduate of the first year of the formation program Yaroslav Volyaninov. “I’m proud of this heroic city, and I am immensely grateful to our defenders. I know that if it weren’t for them, my home might no longer exist.”
Other activities of the Deanery of Pastoral Affairs included:
– Fr. Volodymyr Hryb recorded a series of videos based on the book by St. John Paul II, Love and Responsibility
– Prayerful poetic and song evenings
– Retreats for UCU students, where spiritual studies and prayers were combined with horseback riding.
University psychologists organized online meetings, lectures, and talks on various psychological topics. The Faculty of Health Sciences continues to publish Health Digests: publications aimed at expanding the knowledge and skills of psychological self-help and adaptation to war. Students and psychology teachers continue the counseling work of centers, services, and various Lviv institutions that aid internally displaced persons and victims of war.
“We continue to work with people and for people. We strive to respond to the current demands of life by supporting people in the spheres of mental, physical and social health. Our studies have never been too theoretical as we pay great attention to our students’ practical skills. Some of the courses are taught according to the methodology of socially oriented learning, which involves active interaction with the community and people, aimed at solving pressing issues of the population,” noted Svitlana Stelmakh, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences.
The psychological “Counsel” continues its work. University psychologists and their colleagues from the United States began their work on the “The Center for Mind-Body Medicine” project. As part of this cooperation, training was held for the UGCC chaplains to overcome the consequences of war trauma.
The UCU School Theater “On Simon’s Pillars” (STUCU) works on the artistic front. There were three performances during this month. Fundraising has begun to support actors, directors, and other theater and art figures who are now in the combat zone, protecting Ukrainians and allowing them to create during the war.
The two-month laboratory of the physical theater according to the methodology of the French theater school Le Coq was completed with two presentations, an exhibition of works of art in the “Room” of the student center. There were 29 masterclasses in calisthenics, singing, and acting during the month.
A palette of video thumbnails for the Easter celebration has been created:
And some were made for Mother’s Day:
A performance based on Taras Shevchenko’s poems was presented to the German-speaking audience of Austria with German subtitles, accompanied by an extensive interview about the Russian-Ukrainian war, the situation in Ukraine and the art front of STUCU:
As part of STUCU’s artistic initiatives, about 30,000 hryvnias were raised for the humanitarian needs of Kharkiv and the artists who have taken up arms.
We express our deep gratitude to our charitable partners for helping Ukraine during the three months of the war:
Ukrainian Catholic University Foundation (USA)
Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation (Canada)
Philadelphia Metropolitanate of the UGCC in the United States
Catholic dioceses of Germany
Renovabis Foundation (Germany)
Omelan and Tatiana Antonovych Foundations
University of Notre Dame (Australia)
Drs Timothy and Luba Flanigan
Catholic Peace Foundation (Hamburg)
McKinsey for Children
Hundreds of philanthropists from the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe
Arseniy Yatsenyuk Foundation “Discover Ukraine”
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Bradley Foundation
Ono Academic College