Editor’s Note: Montse Alvarado of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), during the programme EWTN NEWS IN DEPTH, interviewed Fr. Pavlo Vyshkovskyi, OMI, on the current situation of Ukraine, on March 04, 2022. Fr. Pavlo is the former Superior of the Delegation and the Director of EWTN Ukraine. At present he serves as the pastor of the Oblate parish of St. Nicholas in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. The transcript of the interview is found below.
Alvarado: Father, our entire EWTN audience is praying for you and your parishioners. We’re praying that you’re safe. Tell us, what is the situation like right now for you, for them and for the city residents around you?
Fr. Vyshkovskyi: Thank you for the prayers, and we need so many of them because the war has never stopped here in Ukraine. It is there night and day, so the situation is very difficult. We are already tired. At night we do not sleep well because there is the sound of sirens. We need to go underground, to spend half of the night, or may be all night, in there. Russian planes are bombing our cities. I cannot imagine that this is happening to us in 2022; that it is possible in today’s world, in Europe, in Ukraine… the war…! So, for us it is a shock. Now we try to do everything possible to help the people and to be close to them.
Alvarado: I can’t imagine what that’s like Father Vyshkovskyi. The idea of sirens waking you up in the night so that you could hide. But we understand that you have personal experience with this and with Soviet persecution. Are you able to share a little bit of that with us?
Fr. Vyshkovskyi: Yes. Ukraine was, for 75 years, under Soviet persecution. When we speak about the Church, 30,000 churches were destroyed by communism. When I was a 11-year-old boy, it was forbidden to go to the church… Yet during the past 30 years we were happy to have freedom, finally, after 75 years of persecution. But now we suffer another invasion. Can you imagine that, till now, 30 children have died and 840 have been injured because of war within only 9 days?
This situation has united us so much. Much more! A lot of volunteers are doing everything possible to bring water, because some cities have no water, no heating. They also collect bread and other things to help the needy.
Every war (in history) has ended and only God is eternal. We believe in Him, and we are ready to resist every suffering.
Alvarado: And so, you know exactly what’s at stake. Tell us about the pastoral care you and your colleagues are now giving to the faithful for them to get through this very challenging moment.
Fr. Vyshkovskyi: We try to stay connected with our parishioners in every possible way. They know that, even if they have no internet connection or cellular phones, they can still approach us, as we are always in the church from morning till evening, all day. Many men among our parishioners help in territorial defense of Ukraine. So we help women and children to go out of Kiev to a safer place. Men remain here and, sometimes only for a few moments, these men come to church to receive communion, to confess, to pray. We have adoration all day for the end of the war, for peace.
We are also in touch with our people through our priests, and also through volunteers to visit elderly people who cannot move from their flats, those who have no strength to go out of the city. We visit them. We bring them food, especially bread. Sometimes we need to go outside of the city and stay two or three hours in a queue to buy bread.
With other parishioners, we are in touch through WhatsApp and Viber messages because, for many of them, it is impossible to come to our parish. They are living on the other side of the city and, since the city is closed, it is not easy to go there.
And so, me and my confreres – Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate – remain with our people till the end, and we will never leave them alone.
Alvarado: Well, we thank you for those efforts and we’ll be praying for your safety and asking the Blessed Mother for protection for you and everyone in Ukraine. Thank you so much, Father.
Fr. Vyshkovskyi: Thank you too.