Support for 52 Elderly and Sick Religious Sisters in Ukraine
The Church lives, like every family, thanks to a father and a mother. The consecrated religious Sisters represent the motherly element. Everywhere they are at work, with their devotion, their dedication to the destitute, the sick and the despairing, in the schools, kindergartens, homes and parishes. The work of the religious Sisters of all congregations is surely hard to treasure highly enough. One such congregation is the Ukrainian community of the Sisters of the Basilian Order, a Ukrainian Catholic (Eastern-rite) religious community.
The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church suffered particularly severely during the decades of communist rule. All her structures were destroyed. Following the political changes 12 years ago, she found herself with practically nothing. Without the communities of religious, who had remained faithful to their beliefs while continuing underground, the spiritual rebirth that we are experiencing today would have been unthinkable; for without them the continuity of their tradition would have been broken.
The life that these religious Sisters and Brothers had to live was an extremely hard one – above all during the times of communist persecution. The lack of medical care, the poor food and the excessive psychological stress destroyed the health of many of them. These mostly very old Sisters have dedicated all their life to the service of God and the people. They remained firm and kept their strong faith during the time of severe persecution.
Now they are old and tired, worn out from a life full of hard work and privations. They have to survive on a very small pension that does not even cover the cost of gas, water, electricity and medical care, since prices are exploding here due to the economic crisis in Ukraine. Some Sisters are very sick and need permanent medical care. Sisters like Sister Margareta, 73, from the region of Lviv who suffers from cancer, and Sister Maria, 64, from Ternopil, who has chronic kidney disease, and Sister Onisima – just 33 years old – who suffers from chronic back pain.
Most of the Sisters live alone or in small communities of two to three, because the province does not have a sufficiently large convent where they all could live together. Each Sister has to provide for her own support.
ACN is helping to support these brave and now very needy nuns by providing subsistence aid each year. Last year, thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to support 52 of these Sisters, aged from 27 to 94, with a total of $9,900.