A catholic church in Kyiv has sheltered 50 Ukrainians that include 27 children and their mothers, as residents continue to seek safety from the escalating Russian invasion.
Fr Vyacheslav S.A.C, a Pallottine priest, posted videos of his church’s guests on social media, showing families gathered in an underground bunker surrounded by wooden furniture and minimal personal belongings.
Other clips showed children wearing warm clothing and playing inside the church as adults appear to set up sleeping arrangements using mattresses on the floors.
The church has space to provide temporary shelter for up to 50 people, and 27 children are amongst those currently taking refuge, Fr Vyacheslav said.
“Thanks to our underground shelter, they are here. We are currently providing them with a sufficient amount of everything they need”, Fr Vyacheslav told Reuters.
“I cannot leave people”, Vyacheslav said.
The Metropolitan of Kyiv of the Moscow Patriarchate Onufriy (Berezovsky) has given orders to use crypts and lower floors of churches as shelters from bombing. Metropolitan Epiphanius (Dumenko) of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine has done the same.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Catholic University students hid in a shelter as air raid sirens sounded in Lviv, western Ukraine.
Fr Bogdan Prach, the rector of the Catholic university, appealed for support from the global academic community as Russian troops advanced on Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, about 300 miles to the east.
“This war is not just the war of the Russian Federation with Ukraine. The Kremlin’s regime is ruining the fundamentals of international order. So, for all of us, this is the war of the entire civilised world against dictatorship and against violation of the basic rules of international law,” the Ukrainian Catholic priest said in a statement Feb. 24.
“Despite the harsh circumstances and no matter how great the challenges stemming from today’s world crisis, our spirit remains strong, and together with the help of our Lord, strong Ukrainian army, and inexhaustible global academic support, we are incomparably stronger to defeat the evil that rebelled against humanity.”
(With inputs from Reuters, Yahoo News, CNA; Picture Courtesy: Reuters)