“We want to say to the people who are under the bombs, who have lost their families and are in despair, that they are not alone.”
The Rector of Santa Sophia Cathedral, the national Church for Ukrainians in Rome, Fr. Marco Semehen called for new and concrete support to the populations afflicted by the war to help them survive the upcoming harsh winter.
“Since the first day of the invasion, the Ukrainian community at Santa Sophia has become the hub from which trucks depart, carrying the fruit of people’s generosity,” reads a press release issued by the Rector, who, interviewed by Vatican News, painted an overview of the solidarity expressed toward Ukraine in the past months.
“At the beginning of the war, the help was extraordinary, and then during the summer it stopped, and we’ve received several help requests from our friends, bishops and people we know.”
Requests consist of just “a simple blanket, or a contribution to pay for a window, a door house. A stove, canned food, the hygienic things to be able to wash without water,” says Fr. Semehen.
The situation is described as critical. Winter, and its rigid temperatures, are behind the corner, and the “power plant bombings have paralyzed many areas of daily life.”
Regarding the aid received from Italians, the Rector registered, since the beginning of the collection, a total of 64 trucks of 20 tons each that left to Ukraine.
Much of the material comes from various aid organizations, such as the Red Cross or Food Bank, however, “as for donors, private people come, donating what they can”.
The solidarity received from Italian people has been described as unexpected, “starting from a single citizen to the big companies that made their offers and donations.”
“A disabled person arrived in his electric wheelchair and brought two packages of pasta and one of flour, saying, "Father, this is all I can give to your fellow countrymen who are suffering.”
Fr. Semehen also underlined the “great attention” that Pope Francis pays to the war and the Ukrainian people “through Cardinal Konrad Krajewski," the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Charity, "who continuously comes with a van full of the necessary things that we send to Ukraine.”
As Christmas approaches, Fr. Semehen offered a reflection about this time, that usually “makes us go back to our homes."
However, "we have to understand that there are so many people in Ukraine who have no homes”, or if they have one, it is likely to be without heat. “We have to remember that Jesus was born in a stable, where of course there was no light, no heat. However, peace came.”
The hope, for this Christmas season, is that “Europe will renew its faith in Jesus Christ,” says the Rector of Santa Sophia. On the other hand, he also hopes for concrete gestures of help, consisting of “donations, or works of charity.”
“We want to turn on the light of hope and tell the people that God through man always rests His hand on every person who trusts Him.”