As the war in Ukraine grinds on toward its 9th month, Fr. Pavlo Vyshkovskyi, OMI, says people are increasingly traumatized and in need of both psychological and spiritual assistance.
By Devin Watkins & Francesca Merlo
“Many people need a deeper form of help, not only psychological but spiritual as well, because only God can help.”
Fr. Pavlo Vyshkovskyi, OMI, offered that analysis of the burden which people bear after nearly 8 months of war in Ukraine.
Speaking to Vatican News’ Svitlana Dukhovych, Fr. Vyshkovskyi described the work which his religious order – the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate – is continuing to carry out.
He serves as the parish priest of St. Nicholas Catholic Church in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
Ministering amid trauma
After Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, the OMI community in Kyiv wondered whether they should join millions of others and flee Ukraine to seek safety elsewhere.
As the local superior, he urged the younger Oblate priests to leave, since “anything could happen.”
“But they said no, we will also remain,” he recounted in the interview in Vatican News’ studios.
Fr. Vyshkovskyi described their decision to remain with the people they serve as “very touching”, because it meant the Oblates would stay together “as a community”.
The parish community began to hold Eucharistic Adoration each day, and many people showed up, even approaching the Sacraments for the first time.
In order to respond to the trauma inflicted by the war, Fr. Vyshkovskyi said his community hopes to set up a counseling centre in Kyiv.
“We would like to create a healing centre for children who have lost their parents, for mothers who have lost their sons in the war, for wives who have lost their husbands, and for people who have lost everything.”
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