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Knights of Columbus: Ukrainians ‘a nation of heroes’, need our help

Ukrainians are a nation of heroes, but they still need our humanitarian help. When a helicopter would fly over a refugee center, the children would run away in fear. These affirmations show the magnitude of the human tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, according to Patrick Kelly, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

Speaking to Vatican News ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Kelly said the Knights of Columbus have provided all kinds of aid to the country.

“In these days, 4,000 coats went to the children in Ukraine who became orphans, losing their fathers in the war,” he said. “These children need our support and help more than ever. They need simple warmth. As I said when in Ukraine, the Knights of Columbus will stand with the people of Ukraine because there are suffering people there and we need to help those who are suffering. We need to be a sign of God’s love for them amid the tragedy that they’re experiencing.”

250,000 care packages for the suffering

Mr. Kelly added that he has visited Ukraine twice since the outbreak of the war.

“I had a meeting with Pope Francis before I went there, and he blessed Easter care package that we were delivering to people in Ukraine,” he said. “The Knights of Columbus Mercy Centers were established along the border to help the refugees crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland and they provided them with warmth, with food, with some medical attention, and also spiritual attention, an opportunity to talk to people, talk to a counsellor, to have Mass. Now we are sending aid through charity convoys. We have semi-tracks that go from Poland to Ukraine twice a week. We have been doing this for 95 weeks. We continue this work to deliver humanitarian aid. It’s already 250,000 packages for those who are suffering.”

Mr. Kelly recalled that the Holy Father encouraged him to keep providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

“When I was in Lviv and speaking to seminarians at the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Seminary, during my evening lecture all the lights went out in that section of the city, which is very common when it comes to power cuts,” he said. “And so, in an instant you are thrown into darkness. Then one power generator came on and I was able to continue the conversation. It really makes you understand that life in Ukraine is very tough right now. People are suffering because of this great tragedy.”

Inspiring Polish-Ukrainian brotherhood

Mr. Kelly said he has been very edified by what the Church was doing, both in Poland and in Ukraine, opening monasteries, seminaries, and many buildings for refugees.

“I also want to say something about the Polish people. I think it was inspiring to see Poland in this tragedy and how Poland welcomed the refugees into their homes and took care of them,” he said. “I witnessed the wonderful cooperation between the Polish and Ukrainian Knights of Columbus. It was very uplifting. It really is brotherhood.”

As the war drags on, the Knights of Columbus continue their charitable mission in Ukraine, although the needs are changing.

“Now we are in a different phase where we are starting to help people who have suffered from the psychological trauma of the war,” said the Supreme Knight. “We are working with some medical clinics and with priests who are also psychologists to talk to people about the traumatic experiences they have gone through. Love screens out the hatred that war brings. Children especially need heartfelt care.”

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