In early 2016, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s delegation, headed by Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, met with Pope Francis in Rome. At that meeting, the Pope found that there had been quite little done internationally to help the Ukrainians displaced by the war in Eastern Ukraine. As a result, he called for special collection to be carried out all over Europe in April 2016 for the needs of Ukrainian people.
Many Ukrainian Catholic Eparchies in Canada decided to follow the Pope’s call and they too ran collections in the Ukrainian Catholic parishes across the country in May. The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), an agency of the Holy See, founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926, was assigned with the task of sending the collections to Ukraine.
The New Pathway spoke to Carl Hétu, CNEWA’s National Director for Canada, and found that the collections have come from every Canadian province. In some Eparchies like New Westminster and Saskatchewan, people made individual donations, while others, such as the Winnipeg Archeparchy, asked its parishes to send their cheques to CNEWA. Cheques also came from organisations, like the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada. As of last week, the amount of donations has reached $90,000.
After the collections are finalized, with a target of the end of 2016, the funds will be sent in 2017 directly to CNEWA’s partners in Ukraine which work with the displaced, namely, the UGCC’s Archeparchy of Kyiv, Ukrainian Catholic University and Caritas Ukraine. The funds are earmarked to aid the displaced people with food, housing, medical supplies, etc. CNEWA also decided to support the Ukrainian Catholic University’s initiative to provide courses to priests on how to deal with the psychological trauma on the spiritual level that the displaced and their families have endured. CNEWA already supported a summer camp held this year by the military chaplains and the Church for over 100 displaced people with PTSD.
The Association has also worked for some time with Caritas Ukraine whose centre in Kyiv offers food, medications and clothing for the displaced on a weekly or monthly basis. The Centre also finds housing and provides care for the displaced, people with special needs and elderly. Caritas Kyiv holds trauma sessions for children who are affected after seeing violence around them – some have even witnessed their parents or siblings die.
In the interview with the New Pathway, Carl Hétu expressed confidence that CNEWA’s Ukrainian partners are using the Association’s funds properly. When the Ukrainian partners present and fulfil their projects, CNEWA studies the budgets and reports on their execution which include the receipts on expenses. During Carl Hétu’s recent visit to Kyiv, he visited projects run by Caritas and met with the displaced people and the care workers.
CNEWA has been supporting charitable projects in Ukraine for some time. The Association supports the Ukrainian Catholic University, orphanages and schools, training sessions of seminarians and priests, and other projects. It has provided support for associations such as Emmaus in Lviv that promotes awareness on people with special needs. As Carl Hétu told us, “Our programs are really a gear to help the Church establish itself, like helping the building of the seminary in Kyiv, helping the Church at pastoral or administrative level. And, of course, we put a lot of emphasis on social work, on helping the most vulnerable including poor children, people with special needs, the elderly and reaching out to the displaced.”