If someone had told me ten years ago that Ukraine would be praying for peace in its own country, I would not have believed it. Nor would I have believed that it would be necessary to pack our most important things, water, passport and cookies for a few days in one suitcase. But the reality, unfortunately, is this.

For eight years we have lived in a state of war, and the most recent days of our lives are filled with fear and anxiety. We fear for our country, our families, our future.

Many Sisters from around the world have sent us assurances of prayer, for which we are grateful from the bottom of our hearts, and they have asked: How are you? But in truth, no one can answer anything with certainty. None of us knows what our tomorrow will look like, whether we will be awakened by an alarm clock or the sound of a siren.

A lot of families are now leaving Ukraine, they are leaving the areas at risk, the central and eastern parts. Most of our religious houses are in central Ukraine and one quite far in the East. Five of our six houses are in the part of the country that is considered “at risk of war”. But for now, none of us has left, because after all, the people remain here, our people, who need us. Even just to gather to pray together, to support them and to be together with them, to make plans for holiday trips and summer retreats.

At a time when war seems to be on the doorstep, we feel very strongly the support and prayer of the whole world and our cry to God is even stronger, and the Supplications sung daily have a different meaning, especially when we sing the words: from war, deliver us, O Lord.

February 16, 2022, in Ukraine was announced as another day of prayer and fasting for peace. In many of our parishes there was all day long Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and prayers for peace. In Zhytomyr, we organized an evening rosary broadcast from our convent chapel, to which the families we work with and serve could connect through Zoom. It was an empowering and very moving experience as we all realized that every moment we experience is a gift from God, that our today and tomorrow depend on Him alone. At the end of the prayer there was a spontaneous proposal to pray together also on other days.

Therefore, both today and tomorrow, we will join together and ask that the Lord give us peace.

As I am writing this to the Sisters, information has come that the situation in the eastern part has escalated, that a kindergarten and a high school were shelled…. And here in the central part it is raining today, spring is approaching, each Sister is at work, in school, kindergarten, catechesis, in the sacristy, someone is infected with Covid, and on the lips and in the heart there is a constant silent request: from war, deliver us, Lord.

Sr. Franciszka Tumanevych