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18 April 2022

Welcoming Ukraine refugees to the OCD monastery in Snagov, Romania

In our Snagov monastery in Romania reside Fr. Antonio Prestino, Fr. Marco Secchi, Fr. Mihai Lauș  Fr. Tarcisio Favaro, from the Venice Province. Together with them are members of the Carmelite Ecclesial Movement. Since March 9, they have been joined by three postulants of the Venetian Province.

From 24th of February, they began to prepare, from what they had, places to welcome refugees who might arrive: cleaning, cars, kitchen, translators, etc. but also trips to the border (4 hours by car) to take refugees in need of assistance. The first to arrive were foreign students who attended Ukrainian universities: they had to return to their countries of origin (Morocco, Egypt, Kazakhstan …). Then there were Ukrainian mothers (or other nationalities) who fled with their children, some foreign families who were returning to their homeland with their children.

Then there followed a great deal of phone calls to coordinate: cars to take to the station or airport, alarm clocks to wake you up in the night to pick up or take someone else, prepare kitchens and cleaning to put things in order, medicines, laundry, embassies, etc. It is a fast, short, but necessary hospitality so that, at least for now, everyone has a clear destination. Currently the house of spirituality in Snagov hosts about forty fleeing Ukrainians.

After a tour of the borders with Ukraine, Vito d’Ettorre, a journalist of TV2000, visitied the centre to document the activity of the Carmelites, and he shared with us his impressions: «Romania has found itself as the “Lampedusa of Europe”, the reception is organized everywhere, even to private homes and monasteries. The experience at the Carmel of Snagov is beautiful. I first interviewed a lady fleeing Ukraine: as soon as she arrived here, she entered the church, and she shouted loudly, Lord, give us peace! Those who are on the run need to find spirituality more than bread, as happens in this Shrine».