Our ministry began in Ukraine in 1991 after democratic changes and sisters from the Polish Province were permitted to enter the territory. Thanks to these pioneers, we are happy today to have Ukrainian sisters, who together with sisters from Poland work in 4 communities: Grodek Jagiellonski in the Archdiocese of Lvov and in Zytomierz, Korostyszew and Kamienny Brod in diocese of Kijow-Zytomierz.
L2R: Srs. Ludwika Jastrzębska, Anna Karpińska, Danuta Jarosz, Galina Szpilowa, Julia Wolska, Galina Soroczyńska, Galina Klimenczuk
Sr. Galina Szpilowa Sr. Anna Karpińska
In these places the sisters catechise children, youth and adults; prepare them for the Holy Sacraments, care of poor, elderly and sick, and work as sacristans in the parishes. Besides the main places, our sisters conspire with the priests to visit mission stations and small chapels far away from the cities. The work is boundless and widespread, but co-operators, animators and members of the UAC give support to the Pallottine Fathers and Sisters.
Sr. Galina Soroczyńska
This visitation of Superior General, Sr. Izabela Świerad took place from 1-13 June 2011. Sister flew from Rome to Warsaw, Poland with Sr. Bożena Olszewska, General Councillor, and on the same day left by car for Gródek Jagielloński accompanied by Sr. Ludwika Jastrzębska. Upon arrival in Żytomierz the visitors were welcomed by the entire community of sisters lead by Sr. Anna Karpińska, who expressed their united joy for the visitors and wished them blessed moments in their beautiful country. Accordingly, the Slavic welcome custom of offering a loaf of beautifully decorated bread with salt, Karawaj, placed on a very special towel embroidered with Ukrainian elements, was presented to Sister Izabela, who then kissed the bread as a sign of her acceptance of their hospitality.
Sister Izabela gave her greetings from Rome and assurances of prayers at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II and at body of the Founder St. Vincent Pallotti.
Representatives of the parishes, and children with flowers and songs warmly welcomed our guests from Rome.
Sr. Ludwika Jastrzębska
Each meeting with the Superior General gave occasion for the parishioners to give thanks to the Pallottine sisters for their faith testimony through their presence and work. Visiting different communities, Sr. Izabela had the opportunity to meet with each sister and better see the place of each one’s work and apostolate.
L2R: Sr. Bożena Olszewska, Sr. Izabela Świerad, Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki and Sr. Ludwika Jastrzębska
They also met with the Archbishop of Lvov, Mieczysław Mokrzycki, in his private residence. At one time he served as the secretary of Bl. John Paul II. Next, they visited the Bishop of Kiev, Jan Purwiński, who this year celebrated his 50 anniversary of the priesthood and 20 years as a bishop.
Bishop Jan Purwiński and Sr. Izabela Świerad
Both Bishops expressed their gratitude for all the work of Pallottine Sisters in Ukraine and shared their future vision for continued development of the Church there. Visits were also made to the communities of the Pallottine Fathers, the Don Bosco community in Korostyszew, where Srs. Danuta Jarosz and Galina Soroczyńska are working, and to the large and active UAC group in Żytomierz that has existed for 20 years.
Sr. Izabela visiting the UAC community led by Fr. Jarosław Olszewski
Here a meeting, which lasted for 3 hours, was organized in the sisters’ house with Fr. Jarosław Olszewski, parish priest and UAC leader, the sisters, and all the members. It was a very enriching experience and nobody wanted to leave. Sr. Izabela encouraged the members to share their experience of faith and apostolic work. She herself shared some information from the last GCC meeting, her spiritual experience from the beatification of John Paul II, and the preparations for the 50th anniversary of the canonisation of St. Vincent Pallotti in 2013.
In the program of visitation one day was dedicated for an excursion through the beautiful and historical rich architecture in Lvov. Among them were the Opera Hall, the famous Łuczakowski Cemetery, Armenian Cathedral and historical area of Żytomierz.
Lvov, Łuczakowski Cemetery The Cathedral in Żytomierz
The roads took them through other interesting places, like Olesko, where Polish King Jan Sobieski, Krzemieniec was born, birthplace of famous poet, Juliusz Słowacki, and the Orthodox Center with its monastery and seminary in Boczajewo.
The central point of the visitation was an assembly on June 9, in Zytomierz of all the sisters working in Ukraine. They gathered together in prayer and Eucharist and shared their apostolic experiences, needs and problems, in order to respond better to God’s challenges today. All came to the conclusion that their service will be better when deeper will be their faith, unshaken hope, and rekindled love. Being together as one soul and heart, exchanging experiences, listening and sharing brought us not only a joy, but also a common encouragement and renewal of the Pallottine spirit. The last day in Ukraine, the Solemnity of the Holy Spirit, was celebrated in Gródek Jagielloński, together with the parish community.
The next day, the Sisters began their journey through Poland, Lithuania and on to White Russia, for the next visitation. On the way they stopped at the Benedictine Monastery in Łomża, where they met with Mother Janina Podsiad, former Pallottine who is now the Abbess. They also had opportunity to pass by the Marian Sanctuary of the Blessed Mother in Studzienicznej, located on the beautiful lake, which was the pilgrim place of John Paul II. In the evening they reached the Rudawka village near Augustów and the White Russian border, where the parents of Sr. Bożeny Olszewskiej live. The family house, beautifully situated in the middle of a forest, lake and meadows, became a place of family gathering and rest for the sisters. One day of pilgrimage was dedicated to Wilno, Lithuania, to the sanctuary of the Blessed Mother of Ostrabrama.
The Blessed Mother of Ostrabrama
There they prayed for the intentions of the entire Congregation. These significant places left in the hearts of the sisters’ a never to be forgotten sign.
Through participation in the Eucharist, adorations of Blessed Sacrament, and rosary, our sisters could experience the deep faith of many simple people. They do not hide their great joy over the returned of churches by the government, which had been taken and badly destroyed by the Soviet system.
Sr. Galina Klimenczuk
Now they are happy to see young people in the churches, who give them hope for the future generation. In 90’s Sr. Izabela was involved in the Mission Center and had often visited Ukraine. Today she is much impressed by the changes, which have happened during the last years: revival of the Catholic Church, new houses, good asphalt roads, gasoline stations and flower gardens. Presently Ukraine is preparing for the Euro in 2012, an event that inspires the country to quickly make more changes. June is an excellent time for a visitation as it is then that the Ukrainian soil is covered with lush green and colorful nature especially in the bounteous fields and meadows. The visitation was a time of gratitude to the Almighty Father for all the good, which our Congregation receives from Him. We hope that the work of Pallottine Missionary Sisters will be rewarded in the future by new vocations.
Sr. Ludwika Jastrzębska, SAC