The Carmelite Sisters in Kiev, Ukraine, Thank You for Your Support
The Carmelite Sisters in Kiev would like to say a big “thank you” to our benefactors for the support you have given them. "We are extremely grateful to ACN and all your staff and your benefactors, and we will make every effort to repay our debts by our prayers," says Sister Maria Celina, the Prioress of the Congregation of the Most Holy Trinity, speaking on behalf of all her fellow Sisters.
Their convent was founded in 1991 after the great political changes in the former Soviet Union, when Carmelite Sisters from two Polish convents bravely and selflessly accepted the challenge of working, through their prayers and their presence, for the spiritual rebuilding of the post-communist society here.
Initially they lived in very cramped conditions, close to the Church of the Holy Cross. This church, which was really more of a chapel, was at that time the only Catholic church in the Ukrainian capital in which Holy Mass was celebrated. The other two churches had been confiscated and converted, one into a museum of atheism and the other into an organ museum.
Later, between 1994 and 1996, the Sisters were able to build a new convent of their own in the grounds of a former state-owned farm, or sovkhoz, in the midst of fields and fruit trees. However, shortly afterwards, the city authorities designated the surrounding area for building development, and that marked the end of silence and seclusion for the Sisters. Already in 1998 the Sisters had been obliged to increase the height of their enclosure wall on the southwest side of the convent. However, only a little later a new, multi-story building was constructed less than fourteen feet away, this time on the north side. So again the Sisters had to increase the height of the walls in order to protect the enclosure from being overlooked from outside. ACN helped for this work with a contribution of $16,300.
Of the original five Sisters, two are still in the convent today, two have died, and three more have returned to Poland. Today most of the 10 Sisters living in the convent (nine of them professed Sisters, while one is still in training) are now local Ukrainian vocations. In fact, the convent is flourishing so well that, not even 10 years since it was founded, it has been able to send some of its Sisters to establish a new convent Carmel in Pokotylivka, near the town of Kharkiv.
But the biggest challenge is how to support the community. For as contemplative religious they lead a life of ceaseless prayer in the seclusion of the enclosure, and it is difficult to find a means of supporting themselves that accords with this way of life. They grow fruit and vegetables in their garden for their own use, yet there are so many other things to pay for. Neither the manufacture of altar breads and liturgical vestments nor the production of wax crib figures, nor indeed the annual collection that is taken in the immediate area of the convent, is sufficient to cover their needs.
Given this situation, ACN is providing help, with a contribution of $2,000 a year. That is why the Carmelites are so grateful to all the benefactors of ACN for your continuing support. And we are sure they are also remembering you in their prayers!
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