Under the slogan “Unite that which has been separated,” recently delegates from the Caritas Ivano-Frankivs’k UGCC went on the Holy Robe Pilgrimage in Trier (Germany).
The Holy Robe is clothing that belonged to Jesus Christ and it is the most priceless item at the Cathedral of Trier. The Holy Robe has been kept there closed and inaccessible to the human eye for centuries. This relic is exhibited for public veneration only rarely–during organized pilgrimages to the Holy Robe. In the last century the Holy Robe Pilgrimages occurred only three times, in 1933, 1959 and 1996.
Since the first pilgrimage, millions of people from across the world have made the pilgrimage to the Holy Robe. Pilgrims include the faithful and the inquisitive. The 2012 Holy Robe Pilgrimage asked the faithful questions about reunion, reconciliation and humility while giving them great hope. The Holy Robe is not just a shirt, it is a garment of our Saviour who “For us and for our salvation came down from heaven and was made man.”
“The Caritas employee’s pilgrimage was special,” said Rt Reverend Volodymyr Chorniy, Director of the Ivano-Frankivs’k Caritas. “We came to pray at the Holy Robe and to thank God for His great gift of love. To fulfil His mission in the distant 1990s the missionaries, representatives of the Order of Malta and the Caritas Trier Eparchy, gathered enough courage to visit Ukraine and start displaying acts of kindness during this uncertain period when the soviet totalitarian regime started to crumble.
First, they acted alone then they included us in their good deeds, and taught us how these things are done. Today we thank God for our good friends and partners in Trier, who happily taught us how to professionally serve the less fortunate.”
During the pilgrimage to Trier the Ukrainian delegates presented the social projects currently being run in Ivano-Frankivs’k. Following Germany’s example, the first Caritas and Order of Malta branches were established in Ukraine; these are organizations that help people in need. Their job is a unique impulse, a continuation of the philanthropic activity started in the 1990s.
“Today, new social problems have arisen, the clients targeted for social programs change constantly. Changes in society cause Caritas employees to react and search for new forms and approaches in their work. Colleagues from the Caritas of the Trier Eparchy are constantly assuring that their colleagues in Caritas Ivano-Frankivs’k have the opportunity to become acquainted with the best European practices in social work and helping the needy.
Such an exchange of experience is important as it increases the quality of the social services provided by allowing Ukraine to learn from German experiences and adapt what they learn to Ukrainian realities,” noted Rt. Rev. Volodymyr.
The main assignment of the Ukrainians visiting Trier was to familiarize themselves with how Germans work with the disabled; the Germans support and guide this work in Ukraine. For this reason the delegation visited workshops for the disabled in Aachen, Germany, and signed an agreement for cooperation with the craftsmen in Trier.
The pilgrim delegation from Ivano-Frankivs’k also took part in the Divine Liturgy at the St. Mary’s Church which the Archbishop of the Ivano-Frankivs’k Arch eparchy Volodymyr Viytyshyn presided over. The Archbishop thanked the Bishop Stefan Ackerman for the opportunity to participate in the pilgrimage and emphasized the German-Ukrainian contacts which are founded on the work done by Caritas and the Order of Malta. “We hope that these good and friendly ties with the Trier eparchy will continue to develop constructively,” Archbishop Volodymyr Viytyshyn said in his farewell.