(Adapted from an article published on www.oblaci.pl)
Brother Sebastian JANKOWSKI, is known to almost everyone in Kiev, most certainly to those whose life is crushed, who lost their homes and had to live on the streets, under the bridges, or at the railway stations.
For the sixth consecutive year, Brother Sebastian, together with Caritas, organized a festive dinner for the homeless and needy in Kiev, on Christmas Eve according to the Julian calendar – January 6.
Editor’s note: Christmas in Ukraine is celebrated on January 7 because, like many countries where the main Church is the Orthodox Church, they use the old Julian calendar for their church festivals.
More than 200 persons enjoyed the supper. Apart from the many volunteers and people of good will, there were also two other special participants at the event: Mgr. Witalij Krzywicki – bishop of the local diocese, and Fr. Pawel WYSZKOWSKI, superior of the Delegation of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Ukraine and Russia.
“Today, out of our own free choice, we sat together at the same dinner table, but people living in difficult conditions of life cannot ‘choose’ with whom they can have dinner… Who is my neighbour today? All of you who are sitting next to me, with whom I can share not only this bread, but also my love… On this feast day, in a special way, we feel a certain warmth, which is impossible to measure; a warmth we can only carry with us. If you received it, take it to the others you meet”, said Bishop Witalij during his address.
“Today many people could come to this special dinner, thanks to the service of Brother Sebastian, who, together with some volunteers, twice a week, in six points in the city, distributes meals, medicine, and clothes”, he further stated.
“It is very nice to be with you. Where else I could pass the time so nicely? I have no one in my family, I have no friends, I’m an orphan. Brother Sebastian is a very good man”, said Siergiej, one of the homeless persons. “Thanks to this meeting with Brother Sebastian I have found God, now I’m a changed man”, he added.
Among the volunteers there were also rich people. They came in simple clothes, together with their children, and served at the tables.
“Every year, I get the opportunity to share with others the joy of the birth of Christ. I wish that those who celebrate Christmas in some other fashion could also come and experience the real joy” – said Aleksander, one of the volunteers.
A choir sang Christmas songs in the hall, and the crowd enjoyed it like children.
“That is an experience which is very difficult to describe in words. It is necessary to feel it, to live it. When people who are living in the streets see about twenty volunteers working for them the whole evening, when they see and hear a good choir is singing for them, and that a bishop is singing with them… That joy you must see with your own eyes”, said Brother Sebastian at the end of the celebration.
There was also a surprise for him. The homeless persons had decided to give him a gift for all the services he renders to them.
Fr. Pawel Wyszkowski, the Delegation Superior, expressed his gratitude to Bro. Sebastian for his seven years of dedicated service with the homeless, which expresses the deepest meaning of our Oblate charism.