Ukraine: Supported in their ministry and free to minister to the sick and to refugees.
The tradition of having Holy Mass celebrated for a particular intention, or for the soul of a departed loved one, is an ancient and venerable one. The gift, or stipend, which the faithful give the priest in return is a gesture of loving gratitude, above all towards God who, through the words of consecration uttered by the priest, makes present the saving sacrifice of Christ.
The gift of money is a means of supporting priests–and for priests in many of the poorest countries, such support is absolutely vital. Generally, these priests receive no salary, and the ordinary faithful themselves are too poor to help. This means your Mass stipends are often the sole means of support for the priests. Mass stipends also enable priests to go out and help others, including the needy who are always knocking at their door. In many countries, the faithful put all their hope and trust in the priest, looking to him for help in every need, even material needs. They truly look on the priest as a father and shepherd and expect him not only to comfort souls in spiritual need but also to help provide food, medicine, clothing, schooling for their children and vocational training for the young. In countries such as these, all eyes are turned in hope towards the priest.
In Ukraine today, priests are coming to realize just what a challenge now confronts them in the upheavals in their own society. The collapse of the previous, corrupt regime, has been followed by months of fighting against the separatist forces in East Ukraine. Violence, injustice, expulsion and even death have been the consequences.
"The Catholic University and its priests are likewise involved in numerous different ways in the work of supporting the soldiers and the refugees. Among other things, the priests visit the wounded in the military hospital in Lviv; they pray and celebrate Holy Mass with them, support their relatives, organize and coordinate the collection of medicines, clothes and articles of hygiene. During this time the social commitment and visible presence of the priests is particularly necessary. But this also takes a tremendous toll on them in terms of time and energy," writes the Rector of the University, Father Bogdan Prakh.
Father Prakh thanks ACN and all its benefactors for helping with your Mass stipends, which ease the burden on these priests in Ukraine and give them a little more time and space to breathe and ultimately to better serve God.