On January 6 (Christmas Eve on the Julian calendar), students and staff of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) hosted a traditional gathering for the homeless, needy, and alone. This year some 70 people joined them.
UCU Rector Fr. Bohdan Prach, PhD, led a prayer service in the University Church of the Holy Wisdom of God and then showed an online vertep (Christmas play), with participants from all Ukraine, from Kramatorsk (Donetsk Region, near the front line in eastern Ukraine) to Lviv.
Then the group proceeded to the nearby UCU dining hall.
Archbishop Borys Gudziak, President of UCU, greeted the assembled with an online address: “How good to be together for this silent and holy night. I want to assure you that the Lord is with you, for this is the feast of God’s presence. He comes where something is missing, where there is misfortune, rejection, cold, loneliness, darkness. Our Lord is born there, to be with us, to lift up our spirits and bring us to heaven.
“I thank all the benefactors, volunteers, and students who made this evening possible,” continued the archbishop. “I also thank all the guests who came to UCU. Our proverb says: ‘A guest in the home is God in the home.’ When is this so, if not on Christmas? At this time, the Lord Himself comes to dwell in our hearts, homes, and our people.”
Traditionally, volunteers also bring the Christmas Eve meal to patients at the regional psychiatric hospital, the palliative section of the Sheptytsky Hospital, a penal institution, and they gave 70 portions to the Community of Sant’Egidio to distribute to the needy.
Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church from 1901 to 1944, annually held a similar event within the walls of the Theological Academy before the Christmas holidays. He gave presents to people in need, among whom were not only Christian but also Jewish children.
Author of Ukrainian text: Diana Motruk