A few days before the celebration of Fr. Dehon's birth, the superior general visited the confreres in Ukraine. Amid the horror of war, Dehonians are a sign of love and reconciliation.
From March 8-12, 2023, Superior General Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniú visited our confreres in Ukraine. The visit was naturally tied in a context of the war that our confreres are also experiencing. It was precisely this tragic situation of the country and the local church that prompted us to visit our confreres and Christians among whom they live, to convey to them solidarity and closeness, which since the beginning of the war in various ways, our whole congregation has tried to show.
During the visit, the superior general met with all 8 confreres currently working in Ukraine and visited the facilities where the Dehonians are working. The Dehonian presence in Ukraine is currently concentrated in two places: Irpin (next to the city of Kiev) and the city region of Zhytomyr (about 200 km west of Kiev).
The community meeting, organized on March 11 in our house in Perszotravensk (in the Zhytomyr region), was an opportunity to express gratitude to the confreres for their willingness to stay in a war situation and for their generous commitment. This meeting also provided an opportunity for sincere dialogue on the most important issues related to the life and ministry of the Dehonians in Ukraine.
Another significant moment of the visit was a meeting with the ordinary of the Diocese of Kiev-Zhytomyr, Bishop Witalij Kryvitsky. The meeting became an opportunity not only to recall more than 25 years of our confreres’ work, but also to have a sincere dialogue and reflection on the concrete possibilities of developing our ministry in the diocese. The Bishop of Kiev emphasized that the ministry of the Dehonians, in its typical spirit of love and reconciliation, is a true response to the challenges of the current difficult time in the diocese and the entire country.
On March 11, Fr. Carlos Luis met with our confreres, Fr. Piotr Chmielecki (POL) and Fr. Gerd Hemken (GER), who arrived in these days in Ukraine with humanitarian aid. Their stay in our house in Perszotravensk was just a stop on the road to the east of this country. It is there that, despite the intensification of fighting, there are still many left in need of human support and solidarity.
On Sunday, March 12, the last day of his stay in Ukraine, the superior general concelebrated Mass in the parish in Romanów. Together with the parish community, he prayed for the gift of peace and the victory of Divine Mercy over the hatred and injustice that have affected Ukraine.
The images of the places visited, related to the war and the fate of the people involved, will remain in memory for a long time. Visits to places in Irpino or Bucza, heavily scarred by the war, are not easily forgotten, and conversations with the people who live there allow, at least in part, an understanding of the tragedy that affected them. We also carry them in prayer.