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Since the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 3 million people have fled Ukraine seeking refuge in neighboring countries, including Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.

At the same time, these countries serve as a bridge to connect with other countries in Europe that are aiding in welcoming people who have been forced to flee Ukraine. In the case of Poland, the Franciscan friars in various cities have organized themselves to respond, from our spirituality of welcome, to the various needs that arise, as well as to organize prayer meetings to pray for peace. Here are some of the initiatives that have been developed or are underway in the city of Katowice.

Prayer in the spirit of Assisi in Katowice, Poland

On March 9, 2022, in the Basilica of the Franciscan Friars in Katowice, a prayer in the spirit of Assisi took place. The main intention was to pray together for peace in the world, especially in Ukraine. The friars welcomed the various representatives of other religions (Jews, Muslims, Protestants). The Coadjutor Archbishop of Katowice, Adrian Galbas, prayed with us. After concluding the prayer in the church in the spirit of Assisi, we continued to share in a meeting to strengthen fraternal ties.

Humanitarian bridge in Katowice

The Franciscan fraternity of Katowice has become a place of reference for those who travel to provide humanitarian service in the Ukraine. In the first days of March the Civil Defense volunteers from Chiaramonte, Sicily, arrived. They succeeded in their mission to transport various aids for our Ukrainian neighbors. Before returning to Italy, they returned to stay with the friars, sharing their experience of being close to those who suffer.

Since March 13, the Franciscan fraternity of Katowice has been offering its availability (hospitality, logistics, food, etc.) to the volunteer association of Galdakaoko (GBGE), Bilbao, Spain. The friars, together with the volunteers, help to organize the transportation of people from Ukraine to Spain, where they have relatives. At the same time, the fraternity offers rooms to sleep, meals and everything necessary to undertake such a long journey. Above all, they help the mothers with children and the sick. They help to dispose of the gifts that arrive from Spain and deliver them to the needy in the Ukraine. The collaboration has already begun and will last if necessary. Along with the Spanish friars and volunteers, there are also volunteers from the parish Caritas and lay staff from the Franciscan friary in Katowice.

Fr. Sergiusz M. Bałdyga OFM

JPIC Animator
Province of the Assumption of the BVM Katowice, Poland