For years in Ukraine, Christmas Eve tradition has maintained – to remember people in difficulties on the eve of one of the most revered Christian holidays and think about those who cannot feel the magical atmosphere and family warmth of Christmas Eve Dinner. Thus, representatives of religious confessions traditionally organize dinners for the needy. On that day, Caritas also feels a vow to lend a hand of support to people in need and bring them at least some warmth and support.
On January 6 at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv, the Christmas Eve Supper with the head of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church was held. There were gathered internally displaced families from Donetsk and Luhansk regions as well as Crimea – 120 people in total, while half of them – children. Patriarch personally welcomed every guest. President of Caritas Ukraine Andriy Waskowycz, vice president of Caritas Ukraine Andriy Nahirnyak, director of Caritas Kyiv father Roman Syrotych and priests of the cathedral also attended the event.
Holy Supper began with a common prayer and the welcoming words of His Beatitude Sviatoslav. He expressed a great joy for the opportunity to be together with the audience on Christmas Eve, thanked everyone for their presence and wished all God’s grace, peace and love. “It was the idea of His Beatitude Sviatoslav, and we just supported it and helped in organization” – said Fr. Roman Syrotych, director of Caritas Kyiv. – “I would like to thank all people of good will who contributed to the preparation of the dinner. I thank the employees and volunteers of Caritas, the Knights of Columbus, the choir of Patriarchal Cathedral, seminarians of Three Saints Ecclesiastical Seminary of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Kyiv, parishioners of the Cathedral of the Resurrection and all those who helped organize this Holy Supper. Thus, internally displaced families can feel that there are people who care about them and are willing to help and to support them in difficult times.”
At the dinner, everyone could taste traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve dishes in a warm family atmosphere: kutya (cereal dish), varenyky (dumplings), borshch (sour soup), cabbage, fish, holubtsi (cabbage rolls) and mushroom dishes. And then everyone had a chance to sing carols and wish each other joy, love and most importantly – peace that is so needed to all of us today. President of Caritas Ukraine Andriy Waskowycz also spoke to the audience. He pointed out that it is a pleasure to be with all these people on such a special event and wished everybody real Christmas mood during the year. He also explained the mission of Caritas and underlined that Caritas will do everything possible for people to feel not abandoned and to experience help in this difficult time for them.
The Christmas Eve was especially glorified by the choir of Patriarchal Cathedral. They praised the Newborn Jesus Christ with carols, while seminarians of Kyiv Three Saints Seminary shown vertep (traditional theatrical Ukrainian drama presenting nativity of Jesus Christ). Then the youngest carolers moved all the guests with their clear child’s voices.
On the Christmas eve special Dinner for IDPs was held in Caritas Ternopil. The event was attended by Vasyl (Semeniuk), the Archbishop of Ternopil-Zboriv Archdiocese, and City Mayor Serhiy Nadal. Director of Caritas Ternopil Andriy Marchuk blessed the Holy Supper and with the God’s Word asked to support IDPs that lost their homes and relatives because of the war and had to find another place for living. Mayor of Ternopil Serhiy Nadal thanked Caritas that helps IDPs to feel the warmth of real home on the Christmas Eve for the second consecutive year. Wards of the Mobile Youth Work Project helped to feel the spirit of family warmth with a joyful vertep drama.
Holy Super took place in Caritas Drohobych. 120 lonely and homeless people participated in the event. Residents of Nasha Khata community (Our Home) enriched the evening with their vertep drama. The head of the community Vasyl Holod and director of Caritas Drohobych father Ihor Kozankevych welcomed everyone. Holy word of blessing by the Bishop Assistant of Sambir-Drohobych Diocese Hryhoriy Komar gave the particular grandeur to the event. Each guest was able not only to enjoy the dinner organized by the volunteers, benefactors, concerned laymen and local businessmen, but also to receive the food sets as a gift. “This year I heard from a friend about such an annual event for the first time and I decided to come – says a guest of Christmas Eve Supper Petro. – Everything is very tasty, cooked with love. I tried cabbage rolls with potatoes and it tasted like a dish from my mother. Thank you for the opportunity to start this year with happiness, bellyful of food and blessing.”