“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Help Renovate the Orthodox Children‘s Hospice in Saint Petersburg, Russia
For 17 years, ACN has supported the Orthodox Children’s Hospice in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The first of its kind, it was founded in 2003 by the Orthodox priest Father Aleksandr Tkachenko. Prior to this, he had received a special formation in United States as a hospital chaplain, and he could see that in Russia, too, incurably sick children urgently needed better facilities. Prior to this, children were generally sent home from the hospital when doctors believed there was no hope for any further treatment, leaving families to cope by themselves.
Father Aleksandr started small. Still a young priest at the time, he packed a car full of goods and visited children and their families at home. But he soon saw that this was not enough, and so, working closely with doctors and psychologists, he founded the first-ever children‘s hospice in Saint Petersburg.
Here, not only are sick children cared for by competent medical staff, but they and their families are also lovingly supported around the clock. The help offered by the hospice ranges from a variety of therapies aimed at improving quality of life to every imaginable way of bringing joy and happiness to the children.
When they arrive at the hospice, many of these children are so accustomed to suffering and isolation that it is sometimes difficult for them to play or engage in other recreational activities. Social workers and specialists care for these children with great sensitivity; doctors, psychologists, physiotherapists, priests and volunteer helpers all work together, hand in hand, to ease the heavy burden borne by these children and their parents. In all this, the pastoral aspect is of crucial importance.
Father Aleksandr says, “We don‘t preach to people as they lie in their beds, but in situations like these, it is the people themselves who come to us with many profound questions. As priests, we endeavor to help them find some inner peace.” The hospice also supports families who continue to care for their children at home, with medical, psychological and pastoral support.
Others have begun to follow Father Aleksandr’s example. A second hospice in Moscow, Russia is now possible, and Father Aleksandr is widely consulted as an expert in the field of hospice work. His hospice has even been visited by Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was deeply impressed. When asked in an interview about something in his life that had particularly moved him, he spoke of that visit, and on many other occasions, the patriarch has publicly praised the project.
For ACN, this project is one of the most beautiful examples of the collaboration we have sponsored between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church in Russia. This relationship further deepened after the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba in February 2016.
But the building in Saint Petersburg, where the first children’s hospice still runs, is in need of extensive renovation. ACN has offered to help with a contribution of $35,400.
Will you help renovate a hospice serving the sick and dying children of Russia?
Aid to the Church in Need commits to invest your funds where they will have the greatest impact for the Church that we serve. Funds donated to Aid to the Church in Need’s projects will be used towards the greatest need in our programs to help keep the Faith alive.