this place is to become the house of hope and not of sadness. That is why it will be called just that – The House of Hope.
A social center building for mothers with children devoid of their family support was blessed in the town of Korotych outside Kharkiv on October 21.
It is already the second facility for lonely mothers run by the Congregation of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity (Don Orione Sisters), charitable organization “Depaul Ukraine” and Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhia Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.
The first such house, where 9 women and 14 children presently live along with sisters and social workers, cannot physically receive all those seeking refuge. There is a real queue of people wanting to reside there. Some young women are preparing to give birth to their babies in the coming days. Therefore, as another facility is opened, sisters’ work is to expand – they are getting ready to welcome new residents.
Priests, nuns and sisters working in Kharkiv Deanery of Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhia Diocese as well as friends, who had been supporting the activity of the Don Orione Sisters in Kharkiv region for the last 20 years, assembled at the solemn opening ceremony on October 21, 2017. Furthermore, there were guests who arrived in Korotych from Italy, Austria, Poland, and from different regions of Ukraine: Zaporizhzhia, Odesa, Kyiv, Lviv.
General Superior of the Congregation of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity Mother Maria Mabel Spagnuolo, who intentionally came from Rome, General Advisor Sr. Silvia and Superior of the Province Sr. Josephine were among honored guests at the celebration. Representatives of the Foundation “Depaul Ukraine” headed by Fr. Vitalii Novak, CM, President of “Caritas-Spes Ukraine” Fr. Petro Zharkovskyi and Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Kharkiv Mr. Janusz Jablonski with his wife took part in the solemn blessing ceremony of the building.
At the beginning of the solemn Holy Mass, Bishop Stanislav Shyrokoradiuk, ordinary of Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhia Diocese, spoke about the story standing behind the appearance of that house and underlined that sisters would not want it to be associated with sadness and loneliness. For that reason, they named it The House of Hope:
“Loneliness is very sad reality both in young and old age. However, this place is to become the house of hope and not of sadness. That is why it will be called just that – The House of Hope. The house we are blessing today will be home for the community of mothers and children which will be formed by sisters with joy and gratitude. This house is to grant happy childhood to those who may not have been willingly accepted by their own parents. It is the place that will make them happy. It is the place where faith in Good God and trust in His care as well as hope for the Devine Providence are to grow,” Bishop Stanislav pointed out.
Thereafter, the bishop along with Sr. Maria Mabel and future residents of The House of Hope solemnly cut the ribbon and, supervised by all guests, for the first time entered the house that was expected to welcome its new residents in some days.
Sponsors from Nurnberg, Germany, twin town of Kharkiv, funded purchases and overhauls in the building as well as its complete furnishing and current technology setting. Head of the Ecumenical Partnership Nurnberg-Kharkiv Mr. Dietrich Schwarzer sent his greeting on the occasion of the House of Hope blessing and wished that mothers and children could learn to live independent and worthy Christian life in that cozy house thanks to warm, professional and loving care of its staff:
“I am happy that help has been rendered to children and young people in Kharkiv for over 20 years already bearing significant fruits, owing to motivated and fulfilled with confidence in God work of Sr. Renata and her assistants. Year by year we have been receiving good news about your activity. This news has been an impulse for one of our benefactors to divert a sizable amount of money allowing buying and building this house. There is no love to God without love to your neighbor. Continue to work loving God and people.”
As Bishop Shyrokoradiuk pointed out, modesty was an important peculiarity of that house benefactor. For that reason, that person wished to remain anonymous, and even at the opening ceremony of The House of Hope none of guests learned what his or her name was. Prayer was the only request of the benefactor. That was exactly why a sign plate reading, “The founder of this house graciously asks for prayer,” was placed on the face of the house, near the entrance.
“The word that can best express our happiness on this day is ‘Thanks’. First and foremost, we thank the Divine Providence, owing to which we can do what we are doing while knowing He will never leave us. Especially, when our ministry is aimed at those who are most in need and, as Pope Francis says, are on the margins of society. I thank Bishop Stanislav for his open heart with which he shares and supports the work of our sisters here and in Kharkiv itself,” Superior General of the Congregation of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity Maria Mabel Spagnuolo, who came deliberately from Rome to participate in the ceremony, told the guests.
Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Kharkiv Mr. Janusz Jablonski promised that the Consulate would strive to support those good deeds done by sisters in Kharkiv region for mothers and children, and he expressed his hope that Ukrainian authorities would back initiatives of the Roman Catholic Church without fail.
Thanking all guests who attended the solemn blessing ceremony of The House of Hope, Bishop Stanislav Shyrokoradiuk underlined: that work was another evidence of the Church teaching to respect human life from conception to natural death. Moreover, people in need of help could always rely on the fact there would be a place for them there.
“The social center is situated close to our Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Kharkiv. Only last year, over 10 thousand people went through it receiving support there. It is in addition to some 100 people which ‘Depaul Ukraine’ feeds here every day. No one asks anybody about his or her nationality or confession. This is the way in which the Church of Christ opens its doors for everyone. Volunteers are always welcome in this house, and we thank already in advance to those who will join in this noble work in the future,” His Excellency Stanislav said.
On Monday, October 23, 2017, the guests left, but it was just the beginning for Don Orione Sisters and their mentees: young mothers and children, who had lived at a mother-and-baby home in Korotych together with sisters for over one year but were not yet ready to start completely independent life, would be facing a move to the new House of Hope in the coming days. They will enjoy already more independence there: they will receive their personal rooms and a kitchen, new furnishing, a washing room, activity rooms, new life and new responsibility. From now on, they will have to work to provide for their small families on their own. Learning to live independent and conscientious life, although assisted by sisters, is the main task for residents of The House of Hope.
“I am happy now,” Sr. Renata, founder and inspirer of the mother-and-baby center in Korotych, says. “I have been happy before as well, but now I am especially happy.”