Missionaries on the ground in Ukraine: help for those fleeing and left behind by war

For centuries, missionaries working around the world have lived long-term amongst the communities and people they serve, staying to assist even during war, conflict and natural disasters. Now, with the current war and upheaval in Ukraine, Misean Cara members already working in Ukraine, Poland and bordering areas are on the ground assessing and responding to the needs of refugees, IDPs and those who must stay behind amidst the continued fighting.

“Misean Cara is here to support our members as they respond to the urgent humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region. The Redemptorists, Salesians, Salvatorians, Oblates and Daughters of Charity are all providing critically needed shelter, food, and medical care to people and families affected by the war in Ukraine,” says Misean Cara CEO, John Moffett. “On their behalf, we are appealing for donations, so that we can provide rapid humanitarian assistance to their efforts.”  

Special Appeal: To support missionaries in Ukraine with your donation, please see the links at the end of this article.

Refugees wait to cross the border into Poland from Ukraine. Photo: Salesians

Redemptorists in Ukraine
Already long-immersed in communities in Ukraine, the 130 Redemptorists there are providing support to people fleeing the fighting in eight locations across the country, opening their houses, churches and halls as sanctuaries for families displaced by the war. They are also setting up temporary receiving shelters to dispense food, medical care and information about seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

In the border region of Novojavoriosk in Ukraine, about 25km from the Polish border, Redemptorists are delivering supplies of food, water, medicine and bedding to people waiting in the 30km tailback of vehicles, to cross the border into Poland.

The Redemptorists have a strong presence in Poland and are utilising storage facilities set up in towns close to the Poland/Ukraine border to delivering humanitarian supplies into Ukraine from these centres.

The Redemptorists are also in Slovakia and while refugees have not yet crossed into Slovakia in big numbers, the Redemptorists have made preparations to welcome refugee families there also.

Speaking of his colleague’s commitment to staying in place and assisting the people of Ukraine, Fr. Gerry O’Connor of the Redemptorists Ireland said, “I can hear in the voices of Redemptorists in the Ukraine a tangible fear. They are committed to staying close to the most vulnerable people and turning Redemptorist facilities into safe sanctuaries, offering shelter, food and wrap-around care. Fr. Roman Lahish is guiding a team of parishioners who along the Ukraine side of the Polish border are supporting families stuck for five and six says as they seek to flee Ukraine. They share blankets, water and food, and care centres to support these fleeing families. In all conversations, the Ukrainian Redemptorists find time to express gratitude to the Irish people for their solidarity and generosity. ”

“In all conversations, the Ukrainian Redemptorists find time to express gratitude to the Irish people for their solidarity and generosity.”

Fr. Gerry O’Connor – Redemptorists, Ireland

Salesians in Ukraine and Poland
Present in various locations across Ukraine, the Salesians are staying with their communities, inviting people to take refuge in their homes and in the basements of schools as they flee from bombing and fighting.

Fr. Mykhaylo Chaban, the Ukraine Provincial of the Salesians said, “We as Salesians are with the people until the last moment and try to be the ones who give hope to disappointed people. We are creating spaces for refugees in our buildings and we are preparing places for shelter in case of bombings. Our children’s home in Lviv, where we have 70 children under our charge, will take in other children from orphanages in eastern Ukraine and from families in difficulty.”

Representatives from the Salesians Don Bosco Ireland report that their brethren in Poland have issued urgent requests for support, to help them provide for the needs of thousands of refugees each day, including the more than 100,000 people arriving daily at the Salesian Centre in Przemyśl in Poland. Critical supplies of food, and medicine are chief among their needs, with funds also needed to purchase bedding, clothing, and hygiene products and to provide heating.

Salvatorians in Ukraine
The Salvatorians have been present in Ukraine since 2011, with a parish in Lviv and several other locations around the country.

The Salvatorian communities in Ukraine and Poland are already providing direct help to the people in Lviv as well as those who are arriving there after fleeing from other areas of the country, with relief supplies including food, hygiene articles, medications and shelter.

The Polish unit of the Salvatorians is also coordinating through the Polish Conference of Superiors, who are coordinating with individual households willing to accept refugees, while others will be hosted at the Salvatorian community centre in Bagno.


Misean Cara is appealing for donations to support the urgent humanitarian work of our members on the ground in Ukraine and bordering countries. To make your donation, please choose one of the following options:

Misean Cara
To donate in support of Misean Cara members, please click here. Your donation to Misean Cara will be used where it is most needed to assist the people of Ukraine.

To support the Redemptorists in Ukraine through their partner and registered Irish Charity SERVE  click here.

Salesians Don Bosco
To support the Salesians in Ukraine and Poland directly, please click here.

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