In the last two months, refugees from Ukraine have settled in most Jesuit parishes and communities. We are currently hosting 148 people in our homes and parish premises. This is an unusual experience, bringing with it much good and surprise. Below are some of the recent events related to helping the refugees.
The remarkable concert in Wrocław
In the parish of Klemens Dworzak in Wrocław on Divine Mercy Sunday an unusual concert took place entitled „True Belarus for Ukraine”. Three professional opera singers from Minsk performed the following works: „Maria Regina Mundi” , „Polonaise” , „Thank you Lord” „Blessed”, „Ave Maria” and „Revie ta stognie Dnieper szerny” – a song – symbol of Ukrainian struggle and „Mahutny Boża” (God Almighty) – a song considered to be an unofficial religious anthem of the Belarusian national movement. Two of the performers are repressed people who were banned from performing at the Belarusian Opera House. The singers donated the money collected during the concert to the refugees hosted by the parish – with this gesture they wanted to help the Ukrainians who found themselves in an even more difficult situation than their homeland.
As Father Superior Janusz Sliwa underlines, the group of 26 people who moved into the catechetical house a month ago are finding their way very well in the new situation. There is also much cooperation among them even though the families did not know each other before. For example, one old lady has become involved in taking care of bringing the children home from school. Parishioners are also very engaged. Some time ago, a request was made to run a Polish language course for visitors from the Ukraine, and in a very short time, several Polish language teachers were willing to take on this task. In turn, another person decided to organise a trip to the zoo for the guests, which turned out to be an excellent idea, especially as there are many children in the group living in Wrocław.
Refugees in Jesuit parish in Bytom
Parishioners in Bytom have also become very attached to the group of refugees who came to their parish over two months ago. There are currently 12 women and children living there. On Divine Mercy Sunday a café was opened in the parish, which was an opportunity to celebrate together – an occasion made all the more appropriate by the fact that Resurrection Sunday in the Orthodox Church was celebrated that day. On this occasion, cakes were also taken to a school located in the parish, where there are currently about 50 people from Ukraine. Nine boxes of gifts were also collected for this school as part of the collection accompanying Easter.
Psychological support in Poznań
A little later, on the first weekend of May, open days were held in Poznań in the counselling centre of the Vinea Foundation, during which it was possible to take part in sensory therapy and art therapy classes. As Fr Grzegorz Dobroczyński SJ, a member of the board of the Vinea Foundation, reports:
Actually, this is the official beginning of activities. In April we worked conceptually on preparing the offer for refugees, assembling the team and preparing the necessary materials.
Currently, the counselling centre offers psychological help: individual and group therapies for people of different age groups. Importantly, the help is provided in Ukrainian.
The above information is only a small part of the various activities and stories related to hosting people from Ukraine. For refugees, it is a time of taking their first steps in a new country – at the same time, despite their involvement, many of them are waiting for the moment when they will be able to return to their homes.