Polish Catholic convents open doors to refugees

Almost 1,000 Polish Catholic convents have opened their doors to Ukraine’s refugees.

The UN refugee agency says by March 14, almost 1.8 million people had entered Poland from Ukraine since the full-scale Russian invasion on February 24.

The Council of Major Superiors of Congregations of Women Religious (the Major Superiors) in Poland says as at March 14, sisters in 924 Polish Catholic convents and 98 in Ukraine were offering “spiritual, psychological, medical, and material help.”

All of the nearly 150 religious congregations operating in Poland and Ukraine have responded.

Some are helping a few people, while others have offered assistance to as many as 18,000.

The sisters’ work includes almost everything – from transporting people from areas affected by war to providing mother and baby classes.

One of their bigger tasks involves organising housing for the refugees.

To date, the Major Superiors say 498 convents in Poland and 76 in Ukraine have organised housing. About 3,060 children, 2,420 families and 2,950 adults have received shelter so far. In addition, 64 Catholic institutions offer 600 places for orphans.

Besides these, there are 420 institutions with places for around 3,000 mothers with children.

Elderly and disabled people are also among those who have found shelter in institutions run by sisters.

The Major Superiors say the religious sisters have also been helping prepare and distribute hot meals, food, sanitary products, clothing and blankets.

They have also been helping the newcomers find work in Poland, creating additional jobs in their centres, coordinating assistance to refugees at aid headquarters, helping Ukrainian children enrol in Polish schools and serving as Ukrainian language translators.

Other assistance religious communities are providing includes constantly collecting food and hygiene products to be sent to Ukraine, given directly to refugees in Poland or to houses run by congregations.

The congregations also make financial donations and transmit funds through their foundations.

Poland, a country of 38 million people that borders both Russia and Ukraine, was already home to an estimated two million Ukrainian workers before the war began.


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