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This religious sister in Kyiv shares hope and prayer from the radio station she now calls home

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EWTN Ukraine, archiwum prywatne

Beata Zajączkowska - published on 04/04/22

Sr. Lucyna Grząśko took to the radio waves, when snipers began to target her for praying the Rosary in Maidan Square in Kyiv.

“I went on stage, grabbed the microphone and said: ‘Stop! Take out your rosaries; let us pray.’ This prayer continued uninterrupted for seven hours. I have no fear and am ready to face anything that can happen,” says a religious sister, a Polish missionary who has made a radio studio her home. She sleeps on the floor and washes in the wash basin. 

In the past she urged those gathered in Maidan Square in Kiyv to pray the Rosary and as a result was targeted by snipers. Now she is boosting the spirits of listeners of the Ukrainian Radio Maria. “We sense God’s profound presence. We are confident that the truth is on our side and that we shall prevail,” Sr. Lucyna Grząśko tells Aleteia.

The missionary from the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit has been working in Ukraine for the past three decades. For the last ten years she has been a journalist. As she admits, “Theradio is my front line now.” She points out that during this barbaric war the Ukrainians need strong support as well as reliable information.

“We tell listeners where blood donors are urgently needed, where to find shelter or basic help,” says the missionary. The radio studio has become her home; she sleeps on the floor and washes in the wash basin.

“Our listeners are thankful for our presence. They call in and share their stories on air. The situation is really hard, yet we are hopeful and have an inner light,” says the nun. During our interview bombs are being dropped on Kyiv, yet the sister’s voice resounds with strength and hope.

“I was very scared right after the outbreak of the war. I was then 400 kilometers away from Kyiv and was immediately on my way back home. Even though some people were urging me to leave Ukraine, I decided to stay. Approaching the checkpoints, I saw rifles pointing at me. I have no fear and am ready to face anything that can happen,” says the missionary.

A religious sister in Maidan Square

Sister Lucyna was a witness of the protests in Maidan Square in 2014. What she saw there strengthened her trust in God and enhanced her ministry. During the dignity revolution, as the events in Kyiv were dubbed, she repeatedly visited the Maidan, just like many priests and women and men religious from all over Ukraine, who supported the protesters with their prayers, hot tea, sandwiches, and basic medical aid.

At one moment, reading about the apparitions of Fatima, people understood that what was going on at that time was a fulfillment of the prophesies and asked for the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to be brought to the Maidan. It was transferred to the Maidan from the Dovbysh Shrine one day before the Maidan was disbanded. The statue first stood in the prayer tent and then, on February 18, 2014, two young people brought it out of it onto the stage, where it remained until the end of the protests.

Bullets went far and wide, yet God kept me alive

“Walking into Maidan Square that evening, I asked God what He wanted from me, and I understood that I was to urge people to pray. I walked onto the stage. The view was terrible. People were running in all directions, screaming; they didn’t know what would happen next. I went on stage, grabbed the microphone and said: ‘Stop! Take out your rosaries; let us pray.’ This prayer continued uninterrupted for seven hours, till five in the morning,” reminisces the missionary.

The scene was plunged into darkness, which was only occasionally broken by spotlights of security forces, who wanted to see what was going on. Around midnight, snipers began to aim at her because they saw that she had introduced an atmosphere of silence and prayer.

“The bullet flew over my left hand, grazed my jacket, but I was not hurt. I realized that God wanted to keep me alive. Nothing is difficult for me; I am ready for anything that can happen. I am happy because I feel the special presence of God. We are convinced that the truth is on God’s side and we will prevail. I don’t dwell on what might happen to me. I live from one moment to the next, happy to wake up the next day and be able to stand up for what I believe in again. The Rosary is my weapon,” points out the missionary.

A school of the Rosary

She recalls how, after the protests in Maidan, the newsroom called her at dawn saying that they were inundated by phone calls by people who were asking about the prayer she was saying there. She returned to Radio Maria and for the next few days explained the Rosary to the listeners.

“Most of the people who were in Maidan were not familiar with the Rosary, so I was explaining the different mysteries when we were praying. There were many Orthodox and probably non-believers. Interest in this prayer grew so much that we had to print cards with instructions, which then were distributed across Ukraine. For many, our radio station became a university on how to pray and how to understand the Rosary,” says Sr. Lucyna.

On the day the war broke out, Ukrainian Radio Maria initiated the Pompeii Novena for peace; thousands of people throughout Ukraine joined the prayer. On the twenty-second day of the war, a statue of Our Lady arrived in Lviv from Fatima. For the savagely devastated nation it is supposed to be a symbol of peace and a sign of hope that the war will end soon.

Over a million rosaries have been handed out in Ukraine since the protests in Maidan Square. After the annexation of the Crimea many rosaries made their way to the occupied Donetsk and Lugan republics. The war is in a way a crash course in this Marian prayer for this theoretically Orthodox nation.

The beginning of the end of the war?

This was a time of many miracles. A Greek Catholic priest came up to a heavily wounded boy. Seeing the cross on the clergyman’s chest, the boy asked: “Is it your God?”. He heard: “Yes.” The boy whispered: “I believe in Him;” he died, having received the final absolution.

A sister working in Odessa mentions a wounded soldier who was holding tight to the Rosary. When she approached him, he said that he did not know what it was or what it is called yet he knows that it had saved his life.

Maidan helped strengthen the devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. When I was visiting families at home, I saw that each child has her statue. I believe that the dedication of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary will be the beginning of the end of the war,” admits Sr. Lucyna.

The missionary believes that Ukraine shall prevail as so many people worldwide pray for peace reciting the Holy Rosary, and this prayer has unique powers, as the Virgin Mary assured in Fatima.

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