MOTHER OF PEACE RETURNS TO UKRAINE
They arrived from Czerwonograd in Ukraine, in order to receive a gift of the Pauline Fathers for their parish. They felt distinguished that the copy of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Częstochowa would find its home just in their country. The copy of the Image was passed over at Jasna Góra on 14 June 2017. The history has come full circle – the image of Our Lady of Bełza brought from the castle in Bełza returns to the place from where the prince Władysław Opolczyk had taken it in 1382 to Częstochowa, to Jasna Góra.
During the Appeal Prayer at Jasna Góra on 14 June this year in the Chapel of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady, the metropolitan of Lvov archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki and the metropolitan of Częstochowa archbishop Wacław Depo sanctified the copy of the image given by the Pauline Fathers to the parish of the Pentecost in Czerwonograd in Ukraine, the former Krystynopol.
In the Appeal prayer believers were praying particularly for peace in Ukraine. Also the metropolitan of Lvov, leading the prayer, referred to the difficult situation of the Ukrainian nation, tormented by the war and divisions: - The war is ruining the country, leaving ruins. It takes away happiness from thousands of families, who are mourning over the loss of their husbands, fathers and sons. We are coming to You, to ask You to return to us in this Jasna Góra sign of victory. Today we are taking You to Czerwonograd, once called Krystynopol, from where it is very close to Bełza, from where You set off in order to come here. People are waiting for You there, needing the sign of unity. You used to be called Our Lady of Bełza, today – You are called Black Madonna of Jasna Góra and it will not be changed by a border which separates us, or political systems. Where there is evil, there is no God, because He is the Supreme Good. Where there is hatred, there is no God, because He is Love. Where there is a war, there is no God, as He is Peace. Where there is a lie, there is no God, as He is the Truth – he emphasized and reminded that evil is overcome with the good, hatred – with love, war – with peace, and a lie – with the truth.
From Jasna Góra to Czerwonograd
The Chapel of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady was particularly full of believers from the parish church of Pentecost in Czerwonograd, who arrived with their priest Mikołaj Leskiw and the Sisters of St. Elizabeth serving in their parish. Among the pilgrims there were also believers from Sokoło, Kiev, Lvov and Tarnopol. At the end of the Appeal prayer, the youngest parishioners wearing Ukrainian festive clothes, sang Our Lady the song ‘Black Madonna’, which was accompanied by believers taking part in the Appeal prayer of Jasna Góra: ‘Today when there is concern around us./Where can the man find a shelter./Where can he go if not to the Mother./ Who will give him a lot of comfort?’.
At present in Bełza there is no Polish parish, so the copy of the Jasna Góra Image is going to be under care of the parish in Czerwonograd.
A strong parish community
A small but strong in faith community built a parish house in Czerwonograd, where pastoral groups have meetings and there is catechesis for the youngest. Next to the parish house a church is being built. Holy Masses are already celebrated in it, as well as religious services in Polish and Ukrainian, but there is still a lot to do. Parishioners dream about an organ, as there is an organist and a choir but they must still wait for the instrument, as there are more important decoration works. – I thank my parishioners – the parish priest said.- It if was not for their help, the decoration works would not be proceeding so well. I thank Poles who support construction works of this church, but, first of all, I thanks my colleagues – priests from the archdiocese of Łódź for their care so that our community would have its church in Czerwonograd. This is where there are charity fees given and collections organized for the construction works of our church. However, the greatest advocator of the church is archbishop Mokrzycki. In the church there is still a lot of work to do: painting walls, setting up altars, utilizing the area so that fundaments would not get soaked, but Fr. Mikołaj Leskiw is positive about it: - With God’s help and support of good-willed people I think that everything will be fine.
The parish priest of the parish in Czerwonograd emphasized the distinction which had been giving the copy of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Częstochowa and Bełsko to the parish by the prior of Jasna Góra Father Marian Waligóra on behalf of the Pauline Fathers from Częstochowa. This unity was noted by archbishop Depo during the Jasna Góra Appeal Prayer. He said: ‘We are glad that today we are at Jasna Góra. On 9 April 2016, together with archbishop Mieczysław we were getting to know the vows of Jan Kazimierz in Lvov. For this act of faithfulness I thank you once again that our common Mother was a sign of unity and reliable hope for us – for Poland, Ukraine, Europe and the world.
History has come a full circle
The arrival of the representatives of the parish at Jasna Góra on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of coronation of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady and the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima and participation in such a solemn event was a great experience for parishioners, particularly the youngest ones, who had made the pilgrimage to Jasna Góra for the first time.
We found out from archbishop Mokrzycki that the date 14 June would enter the history of our parish and our region, that here, in Częstochowa people would speak about our city Czerwonograd – emphasized Fr. Keskiw, who presented the everyday life of the parish with his believers. It has been four years since 3 sisters of St. Elizabeth have been doing their ministry – they run a common room for children, give catechesis, visit the ill and the disabled at homes. In this work they receive help from women from a community of St. Elizabeth. In the parish there are 3 rosary groups. Apostolate of Good Death takes care of an old graveyard, does catechesis in kindergardens, among children and the youth. In the parish there are scouts and altar boys, there is a biblical group, choir and a youth choir. A Society of Polish Culture of Lvov Land, running a school on Saturdays and Sundays, an amateur theatre, cooperates with the parish and works in such a way so as to combine Ukrainian and Polish traditions of these lands and nations. On the area of whole Ukraine there are a lot of mixed Polish-Ukrainian families.
For most parishioners it had been not the first pilgrimage to Częstochowa. The veterans had already been five times, but a lot of them had arrived to meet the Mother at Jasna Góra for the first time – it mainly concerns the youngest parishioners. And these were just them who were attentively observing the process of careful laying security on the copy of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Jasna Góra – Lady of Bełsko travelling to Czerwonograd. Our Lady is returning to places known to Her, to people, for whom the beautiful scars of the Black Madonna are very dear. She is returning to people who need Her mother’s arms – Mother of Peace, to whom they will resort in need.