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“I was a stranger and you invited me in”: Fr. Patrick Briscoe reports from Poland

POLAND;UKRAINE;REFUGEES

Photo courtesy of Fr. Patrick Briscoe

Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP - published on 03/17/22

To people who are asking,"Where is the Church?" the answer is: welcoming and giving aid to Ukrainian refugees.

Last night my Dominican brother Fr. Kalisch and I stayed with the Dominican friars at Rzeszów. Again, the brothers were hosting refugees, but here in Rzeszów there is a special connection.

Parishioners of the Dominican church here are physicians or otherwise connected to local hospitals. The parishioners contacted the Dominicans asking for help. 

The issue is several Ukrainian families have arrived in Rzeszów with children who are being treated for cancer. When they are receiving chemotherapy or other treatments mothers and children can stay in the local hospital. However, in between treatments the mothers and children need someplace local to stay, since traveling to and from can be so difficult with young, sick children.

The Dominican community in Rzeszów has opened their doors. They have several guest rooms on the first floor of the priory (that’s what Dominicans call their monasteries), which make it easy for families with children who use wheelchairs to come and go to and from the hospital, which is not far from the priory.

In Poland, many are asking, “Where is the Church” during this Ukrainian refugee crisis? The initial data from the secretariat of the Conference of Major Superiors of Male Religious states that 3,064 people, including 1,362 children fleeing war in Ukraine, have found shelter in men’s religious houses in Poland. Additionally, 999 people, including 374 children, are being hosted in the parishes they run. Nearly 14,000 people have received meals served by men’s religious communities.

The witness is transforming hearts. One driver shared on Twitter: “So long for my anti-clericalism now that I am taking parcels collected by a religious organization to Ukraine.”

Male religious have collected 1,870 boxes of supplies for Caritas Poland. They’re offering legal and psychological assistance to Ukrainian refugees. They’ve partnered with ORANGE POLSKA SA to distribute prepaid SIM cards. 

See below for photos of goods collected at the Dominican Province of Poland headquarters in Warsaw:

And all of that is just the work of the men’s religious communities in Poland. It doesn’t include what diocesan priests and women religious are doing!

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Fr. Patrick Briscoe in PolandPolandUkraine
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