Live News Coverage Shows Genocide at the Hands of Putin’s Army 

Friends of Shem Center,

I include here this recent letter my Chicago Dominican province received from the Vicar Provincial in Ukraine that gives a moving account of what they are experiencing there. Live news coverage clearly shows the crime of genocide at the hands of Putin’s army. Civilians, many of them children are being killed.

If moved to do so, there is an address at the end if this letter where funds can be sent to support their efforts.

— Joseph Kilikevice, OP 

ukranian refugee
Ukranian refugee

March 4, 2022

Dear sisters and dear brothers,

As the night was relatively calm in Kyiv, so since the early morning, the city is filled with the howl of sirens and the sounds of explosions. Sometimes close, sometimes far away. Despite being somewhat used to it at this point, these sounds are still very unpleasant, especially since we can see what the Russian troops are doing in many Ukrainian cities. We are still capable of functioning relatively normally in this abnormal situation, but many people at this moment are sitting in shelters and basements. Food is starting to run out, and it’s getting colder. I heard from my friends that they are starting to get phone calls from people who just want to say goodbye or say something important, just in case…

The situation in Fastiv is also becoming dangerous. The brothers were warned that the Russian army’s route to Kyiv might go through their city, since in other sectors of the front they were stopped and destroyed. May it never happen! Fortunately Father Misha managed to organize a couple transports and evacuate almost 200 people. Maybe even more than that. Some of them are already safely in Poland. A large number of people however still stayed in Fastiv, not to mention our fathers and Dominican sisters. We are needed there especially now, so we could not imagine simply packing our bags and leaving.

Apart from providing a roof over people’s heads in Kyiv and in Fastiv, we are trying to find food and share it with those who need it. We are very grateful for the money that you keep sending. It allows us to do the shopping. Just minutes ago, I came back from the bakery with one of the boys who is staying in the priory. We managed again to buy 250 loaves of fresh bread. Driving with such cargo is a real pleasure. During the war, bread — normal, simple bread without any extra ingredients — smells so wonderful! Some of it will remain with us, but most of it will find its way through the volunteers to the needy inhabitants of Kyiv. The House of Saint Martin also bakes a couple hundred loaves of bread daily. The need is enormous. Many people in the villages around Fastiv are starting to run out of food. A particularly difficult situation is the psychiatric hospital in Hlevakha, a small town on the way to Kyiv. They have close to 300 patients. It’s not easy to get there, but the boys from Fastiv will look for ways to supply them with food. Especially since a couple transports of food have recently arrived in Fastiv, so there is plenty to share. Misha told me that he’s also looking for a way to bring a mother and child from a different village. After the bombings she couldn’t cope with the stress; she’s helpless, and she doesn’t know where to go or what to do. We need to reach her somehow.

Nikita and his parents managed to leave Kharkiv this morning. I don’t know how far they got because there was not much fuel in their car. I hope they were able to find a working gas station. The important thing is that they left Kharkiv, which is now being brutally destroyed. I’m sure they will manage. Our house in Khmelnytskyi became a shelter for a group of people connected to the Dominicans. It is good that we have a place to host them. And I know that Brothers Jakub and Wlodzimierz will take very good care of them.  

Yesterday was the birthday of Father Tomek Samulnik, and of one of the diocesean priests who lives in our priory in Kyiv. The whole community sat down together in the evening and celebrated a little. Tomek was joking that his 41st birthday is exceptionally loud. Luckily the world outside was quiet. 

This letter will be a little shorter because I have to take the car and deliver a couple things to the center for volunteers. Dear friends, since the situation is becoming more difficult, I decided to write to you less frequently. Every two or three days. A lot of pressing problems appear every day, and it’s hard to respond to all of them. Please stay calm; my silence will not immediately mean that something bad has happened. We simply have to use our time and strength wisely so that we can serve people in need here.

Today is a Friday of Lent. Many of us already took part or will take part in the celebration of the stations of the cross. I ask you for prayer for those who now in Ukraine are touching the cross. In a very real way. For those who, like Mary, weep for their children, parents, brothers, and friends. Very often there is not much we can do; we experience emptiness and helplessness, but what we always can do is to pray and stand together with them at the cross, looking at the One who gave his life for us. In Ukraine, this coming Sunday is the beginning of the Year of the Holy Cross. When the Roman Catholic bishops decided that this year will be the time of contemplation of the mystery of the cross, nobody would have suspected that it would also be a time of war. How prophetic was their decision.

“O Cross of Christ be praised. For eternal times be blessed. From You flows strength and courage. In You is our victory.”

With greetings and the request for prayer,
Jarosław Krawiec OP,
Kyiv, March 4, 2022, 4:30pm 

Account Name: Polska Prowincja Zakonu Kaznodziejskiego O.O. Dominikanów
Address: ul. Freta 10, 00-227 Warszawa, Polska
Address of bank: 2, Kasprzaka str., Warsaw, Poland
Branch Code: 16000003
Account Numbers (IBAN):
PL 03 1600 1374 1849 2174 0000 0033 (PLN)
PL 73 1600 1374 1849 2174 0000 0034 (USD)
PL 52 1600 1374 1849 2174 0000 0024 (EUR)
With the note: “War in Ukraine” 

Return to NEWS

Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality
708 North Harvey Avenue
Oak Park, IL 60302

(708) 848-1095

Photo Credits: Emory Mead, Stephen B. Starr, Joseph Kilikevice

The Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality website is awarded a 2022 American Digital Design Award for excellence in design and user experience.

2022 American Digital Design Awards