LIKE ALL OF YOU, I have been deeply disturbed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — a country where the Order has been present since 2012. The scenes have been shocking and the loss of life horrific. I fear the sorrow of the Ukrainian people is just beginning, and I pray this unjust war ends soon.
The history of this tragic war will not be written for some time. But when it is, we can be proud of the response from the Knights of Columbus. We have stood with the Ukrainian people, and we will continue to support them in the long term.
Our assistance has taken two forms: prayer and action. Both have borne tremendous fruit. Within 36 hours of the invasion, the Supreme Council committed $1.5 million toward humanitarian aid and created the Ukraine Solidarity Fund to care for the needs of the Ukrainian people. The speed and volume of support has been astounding. At $6.5 million and counting by mid-March, it is a historic testament to the generosity of brother Knights and the trust others place in our efforts.
Even more impressive has been the courageous response of our members in Ukraine and Poland. Their creative work serving refugees and delivering supplies into Ukraine is further proof that where there’s a need, there’s a Knight — especially when the need is so urgent.
Obviously, Knights are inspired by the principle of charity. But we are also guided by the principle of unity. While the majority of Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians, there is a sizable Catholic presence in the country, comprising both Ukrainian Catholics of the Byzantine tradition and Latin-rite Catholics. Ten years ago, at a degree ceremony in Lviv, the leading archbishops of both traditions became the first members of the Order in Ukraine.
‘Even more impressive has been the courageous response of our members in Ukraine and Poland. Their creative work serving refugees and delivering supplies into Ukraine is further proof that where there’s a need, there’s a Knight.’
Within days of the invasion, I spoke with both of those prelates: His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and Latin-rite Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki of Lviv. They told me how their brother bishops and priests are bravely ministering to the Ukrainian faithful despite the danger of war. The two archbishops have been courageous in leading those entrusted to their care. We should all be proud to call them spiritual fathers and brother Knights.
I was further moved when both archbishops joined the Holy Father’s legate, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, in Lviv on March 9. In his remarks, Cardinal Krajewski praised the work of the Church of Ukraine, adding: “Thank you to all, including here the Knights of Columbus.”
Yet perhaps the most moving moment of the past month has been my meeting with a Ukrainian couple who, for the sake of their children, escaped from Kyiv amid the initial attacks. One might expect this Knights of Columbus family to be overwhelmed with sadness and discouragement, but they exhibited great resilience and even joy. After describing how Knights helped her family each step of the way — in Ukraine, in Poland and now in the United States — the mother told me, “It was so inspiring to see good men, at work doing godly things. This is what the world needs.”
“Good men, at work doing godly things.” This is a beautiful description of the Knights of Columbus and a profound summons for you and me. As we approach the celebration of the Passion on Good Friday and look with faith to the Resurrection of the Lord, we should keep in mind the suffering of so many in Ukraine. We should pray, fast and give alms for them. And we should recommit ourselves to being “good men, at work doing godly things.”
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