Hope & Help for Ukraine
By Cliff Gorski
The Catholic Accent
Before summer ends, a group of children at an orphanage in western Ukraine will receive a special package, the contents of which express the love, hope and prayers of faith formation students living more than 5,000 miles away in the Diocese of Greensburg.
Helen Carroll, a fourth-grade faith formation teacher for St. Anne Parish, Rostraver, and Holy Family Parish, West Newton, wanted her students to connect with children suffering the ravages of war in Ukraine. She developed a project she felt was age-appropriate and would demonstrate the love and mercy of Christ.
Her students went to work to create a banner featuring the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine as its backdrop and a message of love and support.
“We took a picture of all of the children in grades four through eight, and then they put their handprints around the picture in the shape of a heart,” Carroll said. “We are the hands and hearts of Christ in the world.”
Students from other grades created cards to be sent along with the banner. Alicia Mahalko’s seventh-grade students researched and translated personal messages into Ukrainian. Mahalko, who served 24 years in the military, wanted her students to understand that even if the translation was off, their messages of love are universal, just like the Church.
“It brought me great comfort that the Eucharist, the sacraments and progression of the Mass is always the same regardless if I was in Kuwait, Rome or Korea,” said Mahalko, a parishioner of Holy Family Parish.
The completed banner was displayed for parishioners in late April. Father David J.
Nazimek, Pastor of both parishes, said he hopes this project is something the children remember for the rest of their lives.
We hear about this in the news and on social media and places where the kids are connected,” Father Nazimek said. “But it’s a situation that is far away until they are able to touch it with their hands, which is what they did.”
Emma Smith, a Holy Family parishioner who will be in eighth grade this fall, said she worries about the children in Ukraine.
“Everybody should live a happy life,” she said. “I hope this gives them a glimmer of hope to get through it all and know that there are other people that care for them.”
Carroll asked Father Oleh Seremchuk, Pastor of St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church, Perryopolis, who is from Ukraine and has family still living in the war-torn nation, to get the banner and cards to Ukraine.
Before the end of summer, he will send them to children living in an orphanage in western Ukraine who had to be moved from eastern Ukraine because of the war.
“The orphanage is operated by Catholic nuns, and Father knows the priest who oversees the facility,” Carroll said. “Other donations that are being sent with the banner will help with some of the immediate needs of the children.”