The celebration of St. Vincent’s Day in Lviv has been remarkable this year. St. Vincent de Paul is the patron saint of the Congregation of Sisters of Charity of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
On September 27, which is St. Vincent’s Day, when the Eastern Rite Church celebrates the grand solemnity of the Exaltation of the Life-Creating Cross, a three-day retreat on the Vincentian spirituality began in the Church of St. Joseph located on 11 Zalizniak Street. The retreat was held by Fr. Vladyslav Kuchak, CM, and Fr. Yurii Shpak, CM. In their sermons, the fathers focused on the importance of one’s personal unity with God for performing acts of mercy. Our deep humbleness and openness for the Divine Providence enable us to show mercy in the whole world. There was a special moment in the retreat when we honored the relics of St. Vincent. Receiving a blessing with those relics helped us experience the presence of that saint among us in a very special way.
September 29, which was the day of all celebration activities, began with the Metropolitan High Mass headed by auxiliary bishop of the Lviv Archdiocese Volodymyr Hrutsa. During the Liturgy, Sisters renewed their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. In his message to all those present, Bishop Volodymyr said that mercy always had a young face, because it was the gift from God, and we should share it with people hungry for it. The world of our days needs the acts of mercy done not only with hands, but also with human hearts. Our smile and time spared for our neighbor are nowadays more urgent than giving food. His Excellency Volodymyr pointed out the service done by the Sisters in different areas of human life. He emphasized that we needed to find out how to respond to those challenges in the present-day society.
After the Liturgy, the festive part of the program followed as Fr. Jan Trzop, Visitor of the Vice-Province of Sts. Cyril and Methodius of the Congregation of the Mission in Ukraine, began his presentation. He spoke about the activity of the Missionary Fathers within Ukraine, in particular about their service in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa and in Zakarpattia region. After the presentation, tender voices of members of the children and youth choir of a minster church began to sound. Conducted by Sister Tereza, they prepared a splendid music program for us. Thereafter, all those present had a chance to get better acquainted with the Vincentian Family represented by Sr. Marta Meshko of the Congregation of the Marian Sisters of the Miraculous Medal. The sister pointed out the way they carried out their service in Ukraine in cooperation with other branches of the Vincentian Family. It should be said the youth did not stand aside either. It has already been fifteen years that the youth society “The Children of St. Vincent” functioned in our church. Nestor Baran, Olia Basarab and Yaroslav Kharkiv shared their testimonies with us. In particular, they told us about their service in an orphanage, in the society called “Hands of mercy” which helped the parents of children with special needs, as well as in the community “There Is Hope” that cooked food for the homeless.
Other participants of the celebration shared their testimonies about work done by the Sisters. Everyone was touched by the story which was told by a daughter of a patient from “Bethany” Home located on 73 Antonovycha Street. The Sisters had been looking after her mother for seven years. With tears in her eyes, Mrs. Oksana expressed her gratitude to the Sisters for their not so easy work. In their turn, the Sisters thanked to all those who were not standing aside but helping us in our work. We are sincerely grateful to Mrs. Anna Kachurina for her warm words addressed to the Sisters. We say our prayers, and God gives His grace. The festive part of the program was crowned with beautiful music presented to us by the trio of the Lviv National Opera Theater. The celebration itself was closed on Sunday with the “Vincentian gingerbread” action. This campaign in Ukraine has already been run for the third year in a row. The raised money will be allocated for the needs of orphaned children.
People of today are looking for happiness every day. Unfortunately, they search for it in isolation from God. Not caring for each other becomes a standard practice in our society. Human soul rescue and salvation involves showing mercy and love towards one another. Our Lord Himself speaks to us: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
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