Oblate’s Eyewitness Account of Situation in Ukraine


Krzysztof Machelski OMI: The Task of the Church is to be with People

By Krzysztof Machelski OMI , Compiled by Mike Viola, Originally Published in the Newsletter of the Polish Province of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

February 23, 2022: Catholics in Ukraine pray and fast for peace. There is nothing else they can do. While there are some military and strategic movements right on the border with Russia, life goes on as normal in the interior.

For a month now, I have been trying not to follow what is happening in the media. In Tywrów people live as they used to. People work, children learn. Nothing has changed fundamentally – adds the missionary.

The situation in Europe has changed dramatically. There is an information war on the Internet, the Internet is flooded with waves of fakenews and false propaganda. Everything in connection with the war that affects our neighboring Ukraine. Let us show our support for freedom and independence.”# (Photo and quotation is from a Twitter post by Jakob Olaf Strumillo)

Political context

The situation on the Ukrainian-Russian border is becoming more and more tense. Russian troops entered the Donbas. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered on Monday to deploy troops to conduct “peace operations” in two separatist-controlled regions of eastern Ukraine. Earlier, he recognized the so-called people’s republics – Luhansk and Donetsk – as independent. During the speech broadcast by television, the Russian president signed the relevant decrees. Late in the evening, the Kremlin published the texts of decrees in which Putin also ordered his defense ministry to send Russian forces to conduct “peacekeeping” operations in two separatist-controlled regions of eastern

Quiet fear

The people of this country are divided. Russian propaganda is very much present in the Ukrainian media, which sows disinformation and increases social divisions. Father Machelski, in an interview with misicj.pl, admits that a large part of Ukrainians, despite the apparent calmness, are concerned about the future of the country.

People feel fear but are reluctant to talk about it. They admit it only on closer acquaintance or during a longer conversation. Regardless of what happens, our task as a Church is to be with them, emphasizes the Oblate missionary.

Prayer and fasting for Ukraine

Bishops, led by Pope Francis himself, encourage the faithful to pray and offer fast for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. This prayerful support is not only symbolic. The Church at all times, also in times of war, must be and is a Community that reminds us of the spiritual dimension of human suffering and the understanding of events that go beyond human categories. This is strongly emphasized by the priests from Ukraine with whom I spoke. They do not want to enter into political speculation, they do not envisage conflict development scenarios. They trust God and do everything in their power to make Ukrainians feel their presence, support and closeness.

Every Wednesday there is fasting and prayer for peace throughout Ukraine. People pray the rosary in the evenings. Material aid has not been organized yet, because there are no refugees from the eastern part of Ukraine, says Fr. Machelski.

In the coming days, we will probably witness key events that will show whether the conflict will escalate or the situation will stabilize. However, it is worth responding to the appeals of the Church for solidarity with Ukraine. The spiritual one and, if necessary, also the material one.

(mj / miscyjne.pl)