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18 April 2022

News from the Secular Carmel in Ukraine – From Verinica Zuieva, OCDS in Kiev

I would like to share with you the current situation of our OCDS communities in Ukraine. There are 46 of us who want to live by Carmelite spirituality. But first, let’s make a brief history of Secular Carmel in our Eastern European land.

On the outskirts of the ancient city of Kiev is the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: it is here that the Carmelite Fathers began their mission after the communist period. In October 1994, the first community of the Secular Carmel «of the Guardian Angels» was founded. Today the Kiev community has 18 members. In February 2003, in the city of Khmelnytsky, the community «Mary, Mother of God of Grace» was formed with the support of the Carmelite Fathers. It consists of 14 members. In the city of Berdychiv, in the shadow of the image of St. Mary of the Scapular, in autumn 2014 the community of the «Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary» was formed. It has 8 members. The youngest community is currently in Kharkiv. It was born in January 2020 and is called «Infant Jesus of Prague».

Today, in these times of war, the period is difficult for all communities and for all our families. We are trying to stay in touch with each other. At the moment, only one member of the Kharkiv community remains in this destroyed city. When electricity and food ran out and the heating stopped, he took refuge in a bunker near a parish. Members of the Berdychiv community remained in their homes, as the city had not yet been bombed. Everyone helps each other as much as they can: some welcome refugees from the east of the country, others prepare military nets or sew clothes for the soldiers and defenders of the city, others work as volunteers. In Khmelnytsky, members of the community live locked in their homes. Around Kiev, many places were razed to the ground and destroyed. Civilian homes were ruthlessly destroyed. Four OCDS people remained in Kiev.

Let us entrust our lives into the hands of the Lord and his Divine Mercy. In a very special way, we find refuge in the great protector of Carmel, St. Joseph. All our communities pray to this great saint, remembering what our holy mother Teresa of Jesus said about him. We also ask you to pray to St. Joseph for peace in Ukraine.