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Ukrainians to receive Easter baskets blessed by Pope Francis

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Vatican Media - Provided

J-P Mauro - published on 04/14/22 - updated on 04/13/22

The Polish Knights of Columbus will distribute these special Easter care packages to refugees.

In Poland, The Knights of Columbus are playing the role of the Easter Bunny for thousands of Ukrainian refugees. The Knights have assembled 10,000 Easter care packages which will be distributed to displaced families in the coming days. Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly presented one care package to Pope Francis, who blessed it in a private audience. 

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In a press release, Kelly said of his meeting with Pope Francis: 

“I had the opportunity to share with Pope Francis all of the good work being carried out by Knights in Ukraine and Poland to help those suffering from the war. The Holy Father appreciates our efforts very much and bestowed his blessing upon the Easter basket. By distributing these Easter care packages to Ukrainian families, we are sharing the light and hope of Christ’s Resurrection, even in this time of darkness and war.”

According to the release, each package contains meat, flour, pasta, chocolate, and an Easter candle. The sharing of blessed Easter baskets is a tradition of Eastern European countries, one that few can afford to consider in war torn Ukraine. Instead, the Knights of Columbus are doing what they can to uphold the practice. 

Knights in Poland

After the meeting with Pope Francis, Kelly traveled to Kraków, Poland, where he will spend Holy Week. There, the Knights have been working to serve refugees since the early days of the war. On April 12, Kelly could be seen helping load care packages onto vehicles from the “K of C Charity Convoy,” which carried the supplies from Poland to Ukraine. 

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Kelly traveled with the convoy as they brought humanitarian aid from the K of C Mercy Center, in Hrebenne, over the border to the Archdiocese of Lviv, in Western Ukraine. There, more Easter packages were distributed to refugee families who are taking shelter in a 14th-century monastery in Rava Rus’ka.

Kelly commented on the Knight’s efforts in Ukraine: 

“Today, I was blessed to see firsthand how Knights in Poland and Ukraine have taken up the Holy Father’s challenge to serve others — especially mothers and children — with St. Joseph’s spirit of creative courage. Our efforts in Ukraine and Poland have only just begun.”

K of C Mercy centers

In an effort to bring more immediate aid to Ukrainian refugees, the Knights of Columbus have set up “Mercy Centers” along the Polish-Ukrainian border. The center located in Hrebenne was the first one set up, in the early weeks of the war, and a second center came to Budomierz, in mid-March. 

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At their inception, these Mercy centers were a place where fleeing refugees could find respite, shelter, rest, warmth, and food. Refugees were also offered spiritual support from K of C chaplains and the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. 

In the last few months, however, the Knights have expanded their focus. Now, Mercy Centers are opening in Catholic parishes across Poland. These parish-based centers allow for a much greater amount of care and can attend to the long-term needs of refugees. The Knights note that their Mercy Centers continue the spirit of the Order’s “Everybody Welcome, Everything Free” campaign, established in Europe during World War I.

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Ukraine Solidarity Fund

Much of the funding for this aid campaign comes from the K of C Ukraine Solidarity Fund. Sourcing funds from the faithful and their fellow Knights, they collect donations to provide refugees with temporary shelter, food, medical supplies, clothing, communications, and religious supplies.

Visit the Knights of Columbus website to learn more about their Ukriaine Solidarity Fund. 

Tags:
CharityKnights of ColumbusPolandUkraine
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