Christmas Eve is a special feast for all of us. It is a time of sharing the joy of Christmas with the family gathered around the dinner table with traditional meals. But there are also people among us who are forced to be far from their homes and families. For these people, Caritas throughout Ukraine has been annually organizing festive dinners where everyone can feel the warmth of homelike atmosphere, and join in a big family sharing the wonder of the birth of Jesus Christ.
In Kyiv on Christmas Eve, His Beatitude Sviatoslav shared the meal with IDPs from Eastern Ukraine. IDPs families from Donetsk and Lugansk regions gathered for joint dinner in the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ. Nuncio Claudio Gugerotti, President of Caritas Ukraine Andriy Waskowycz, Director of Caritas Kyiv Roman Syrotych and priests of the cathedral participated in the reception. There were more than 130 IDPs at the dinner.
Christmas Eve began with a joint prayer and welcoming word of His Beatitude Sviatoslav. He expressed great joy of the opportunity to be together with the audience on Christmas Eve, thanked everyone for their presence and wished them God’s grace, peace, and love. He compared birth of Jesus Christ as a refugee with existing situation when people were forced to leave their homes and flee from the war disaster.
In his speech Nuncio Claudio Gugerotti also laid stress on the joy of being together, and wished everyone to feel Christmas atmosphere. He emphasized to the fact that Church has done a lot and continues to do everything possible for peace in Ukraine, and for people not to be abandoned, but supported with the whole world in these hard times.
Local organization of Caritas Ternopil also organized the Cristmas Eve dinner for IDPs from Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. In the course of the reception, Metropolitan of Ternopil and Zboriv Vasyl (Semeniuk) blessed Christmas dishes and consecrated crèche (shopka) that was established in the cafeteria of charity fund. Ternopil mayor Serhiy Nadal participated in the joint dinner too. He expressed his gratitude for helping the needy and wished everyone peace, prosperity and good fortune.
Director of Caritas Ternopil father Andriy Marchuk marked that Christmas Eve dinner could be the opportunity of sharing festive traditions with each other and supporting people forced to celebrate Christmas away from their homes.
Exarch of Odesa and Administrator of Crimea His Grace Bishop Mykhail with Chancellor Mykola Slobodyan visited Christmas Eve dinner for IDPs families from Donetsk and Lugansk regions in Caritas Odessa. Due to the tradition, before the meal bishop Mykhail consecrated prosphora and shared it with everyone present as a sign of Christians’ unity. In his speech, Bishop called attention to the story of Jesus Christ becoming a refugee after His birth in Bethlehem and fleeing from the wrath of King Herod. For this reason, no one else is so close to the families forced to leave their homes in Eastern Ukraine as Our Savior.
At the dinner table, all participants had an opportunity to learn about the symbolism of the Christmas Eve dinner (Holy Supper). Then, together with Bishop Mykhail and priests they sang Christmas carols and congratulated each other. 12 traditional meals contributed to festive mood too. At the end of the dinner, Bishop expressed His gratitude to the director of the Caritas Odessa-UGCC father Vasyl Kolodchyn and all employees of the Charity Fund for organizing such a warm and joyful party and for the opportunity to feel homey for IDPs families.
Meanwhile, on Christmas Eve in Sambir-Drohobych Diocese thanks to benefactors 70 homeless people had kutia and Christmas meals in Caritas Charity Fund. Auxiliary bishop of the Sambir-Drohobych Diocese Hryhoriy (Komar) wished all guests: “May Christmas warm your heart, bring new hope to those who need it most, and become the starting point of a new life for you.”