The Dominican Order in Ukraine
As a member of the Dominican Order I have some concern for my brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Having received this letter from my Dominican Provincial Office in Chicago, I am bringing your attention to the bond I have with them. Please view the web site that is posted at the end of the letter to get a sense of their presence in Ukraine.
Let us keep in our prayer these days the Dominican family in Ukraine. From what I can tell, there are six Dominican communities for friars in Ukraine, the vicariate headquarters being in Kiev, a vicariate of the Province of Poland.
Dominicans have a long history of presence in the country. The history of Dominicans in Ukraine is almost as old as the Order. Since the early thirteenth century, when the first Dominicans arrived in Kyiv, the history of the Order has been mingled with the history of Kievan Rus. The Dominican Province of Rus, an administrative unit within the Order that included much of today’s Russia and Ukraine, existed until the end of the Second World War. At that time, many Dominicans were expelled from the Soviet Union. Others were executed. Sometimes entire communities were killed at once.
After being suppressed in the Communist era, the Order was re-established in Ukraine in the 1990s. Now the Dominican Family in Ukraine comprises 25 friars in 6 or 7 communities, 18 sisters from four congregations in five communities, 82 laity in 7 cities, and 6 groups of Dominican Youth Movement.
This shield of the Dominican Order expresses its mission — to part the darkness, uncovering the light brought by truth.
This letter is from one of my Dominican Brothers in Ukraine.
From Fr. Petro S.Balog, O.P., Dominican Friar
Associate Director, Verbum Serves at
Thomas Aquinas Institute, Kyiv, Ukraine
We, citizens of Ukraine of various ethnic identities and citizens of other countries, who live in Ukraine, united in valuing freedom and peace, declare our solidarity and support for Ukraine and condemn the new attempts of the external aggressor to disrupt peace.
Ukraine is a peaceful home for us all. A peaceful home where we have been enjoying happy family life and warm-hearted friendships, productive work and creative projects, art, science, business, civic activism and public service.
Since renewing its independence in 1991, Ukraine has been a place with unique opportunities to create, to voice disagreement, and to start a new initiative.
Ukraine has never attacked another country and has always respected the principal provisions of the international law, including internationally recognized state borders.
Aspiring to support and to strengthen peace in the world, Ukraine has taken unprecedented steps in the first years of its independence: Ukraine voluntarily disposed its nuclear weapons, then the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal, in exchange for guarantees of its independence, territorial integrity and inviolability of its borders provided in the Budapest Memorandum in 1994. The Memorandum was guaranteed by five powerful countries, who are permanent members of the UN Security Council: the Russian Federation, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France and China. However, in 2014, in blatant violation of the Budapest Memorandum, the Russian Federation committed an unprecedented act of aggression in the 21st century Europe against Ukraine.
As consequence, the occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol and part of Ukraine’s east are temporarily no longer the space of freedom and hope that we used to know. However, we shall not lose our hope as we continue to join efforts to protect peace, freedom, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine.
Today, the Russian Federation is openly threatening a new intervention, denying Ukraine’s right to self-determination and peaceful life.
We urge the world to support Ukraine in all possible ways to defend sovereignty and territorial integrity, peace and security.
Today’s update: 2-25-21, from our brother: Fr. Petro S. Balog, O.P.Kyiv, Ukraine
“All Dominican brothers stay in Kyiv, also we took some people in our priory for the night. Ukrainian Army is defending cities, and especially Kyiv, and also some civil people received the weapons to defend the streets. A general mobilization has been announced throughout the country. We expect Western countries to strengthen sanctions against Russia, which would significantly help us in our defense. And we continuously pray with hope.”