Ninety-percent of the residents are Ukrainian. The dominant religion is Eastern Orthodox. Approximately 8% of the population belongs to the Catholic Church. In some regions, the Catholic faith survived thanks to the truths and traditions passed on through families and the popular devotions of the faithful. There are areas, where for many years there had been no Catholic priest. After 1991, the situation changed. Many priests came to the Ukraine. Currently, just over 600 priests are serving in the Ukraine, and almost half of them are foreigners.
Our mission in the present territory of Ukraine has a long history. Before World War II, Sisters fulfilled apostolates in Lviv, Rivne and Stryj. A house was built in Lviv in 1892, during the life of Mother Foundress. Cecilia Tańska studied in our school in Lviv. She was the daughter of Adam Siedliski, the brother of our Mother Foundress. In the Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv is a tomb of the Congregation. Nazareth returned to the area after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the formation of Ukraine: On September 29, 1993 the Cracow Province established the first house in Dneprodzerzhinsk, and a year later the Province of Warsaw in Chervonoarmiyska. Over the next 20 years, both Polish Provinces opened a total of 10 homes.
On September 13, 2014 in Kiev, in the presence of the General Administration and almost all of the Provincial Superiors of the Congregation, a new administrative unit was established – St. Michael the Archangel Region in Ukraine. Its formation was preceded by a long process of discernment, general visitation conducted by M. Jana Zawieja together with both Polish Provincial Superiors, a joint meeting of all the Sisters in Ukraine and attempts to create interprovincial communities.
This new Region was comprised of 5 communities and 17 Sisters from the Cracow Province and 1 community with 6 Sisters from the Warsaw Province. Among them were 6 Ukrainians and 17 Poles. Two Sisters maintained membership in their province of origin. During this same time, a new home was erected in Browary, an area near Kiev. This home would serve as the seat of the Region.
The members of the first Regional Administration include: Sr. Aneta Tobiasz, Regional Superior, Sr. Felicyta Dworecka, Assistant, Sr. Karolina Młodzianowska, Councilor and Treasurer, as well as Sr. Franciszka Tumaniewicz, Councilor and Secretary. From the side of the General Administration, Sr. Halina Dołęga, General Councilor, is responsible for the Region.
Joyfully, the Region has two new native vocations: Ira and Natalia who are in Krakow for their formation.
The apostolic ministry of the Sisters is an attempt to respond to God’s call and to the expectations of individual persons. On the surface, it seems that in every house the Sisters are doing the same thing, but that would only be an external evaluation. Each parish, each city has its own characteristics, there are different peoples with their own past.
Cherson, Diocese of Odessa-Simferopol
This home is around 550 km from Kiev. The local community is made up of three Sisters. Their ministries include: care for sacristy, catechesis, pastoral ministry to children, youth, university students, and young married couples, preparation for the sacraments, and pastoral care among the poor and sick living in hospices or at home.
Kiev I, Diocese of Kiev-Zytomierz
This community is the so-called community in the block, because the Sisters are living in a block of apartments. The Sisters are engaged in pastoral work in the parish run by the Capuchins. The church is still under construction. The parish is thriving, with many active groups. The area around the parish is home to many young families with children.
Kiev II, Diocese of Kiev-Zytomierz
There are four Sisters living in part of the building on the grounds of the Capuchin Parish. The Sisters conduct a preschool, with 19 children in the school (the small size of the building does not allow for larger groups). The children are in the care of the Sisters from 8am to 6pm.
Zytomierz, Diocese of Kiev-Zytomierz
The Sisters work in the sacristy in two parishes as well as conducting catechesis. One Sister works in the Bishop’s Curia and Tribunal. The community is made up of four Sisters.
Gniewan, Diocese of Kamieniec-Podolski
Three Sisters are engaged in the parish, which is run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The Sisters are involved in the sacristy, catechesis, pastoral care of different parish groups and visiting the sick.
Browary, Diocese of Kiev-Zytomierz
The youngest community is the home of the Regional Superior. This house was dedicated on October 17, 2015.
Browary, which borders Kiev, is a vast city with 100,000 inhabitants. In this area there is one Catholic church, hosted by the Pauline Fathers of Ukrainian origin. The Sisters live in one of the high-rise apartment buildings near to the church. One of our Sisters works in the parish as a sacristan, and also does pastoral ministry with children and youth. The second Sister from the three serves in the daycare in Browary. The Pauline Fathers who host the daycare, seeing the huge need for Catholic education, are endeavoring to obtain a larger building, which was once a state-owned kindergarten. They hope to renovate and equip the building in order to be able to accept more children full-time. Currently, the children stay in the daycare from 8am to 1pm.
Althought the Region is the youngest administrative unit in the Congregation, the Sisters already have their own plans and dreams and talk about their dreams with God and with each other. They would like to serve families by organizing meetings on topics of interest to them, combined with time for the longer prayer. They would like to conduct a dormitory for university students and promote among them Christian values, so that at some point they can consciously discern and pursue their vocation to married or religious life.
The Sisters live in a place where the Greek Catholic Church is active. There are Sisters who dream of a Greek Catholic branch of our Congregation.
As Nazareth Sisters we see a lot of work ahead of us. We trust that God’s grace will support us in spreading the Kingdom of God’s love on the beautiful Ukrainian soil.
Text and PP presentation prepared on the basis of reports by Sr. Aneta Tobiasz, Regional Superior, to the General Chapter in 2015 and the report on general visitation conducted by Sr. Halina Dołęga.