St Olga’s Church has been the focus of regional efforts to gather aid supplies to be transported to Ukraine and Bishop Alan took the time to visit, with Fr Jeffrey Downie, Catholic Dean of the Peterborough Deanery, to offer his personal support and prayers for parishioners’ magnificent efforts.
With more donated medicines, food and other supplies arriving at the church literally every few minutes, the church team took time out to talk with Bishop Alan, show him the church hall packed with aid supplies, and receive his prayers. They also welcomed him to St Olga’s with traditional Ukrainian bread and salt.
One of the organisers, Yuri Zhuravel, said: “Since the invasion began we have been overwhelmed with support and are trying to help Ukraine as much as we can. The reaction of the people of Peterborough has been amazing, many coming to see us with tears in their eyes.
“Everyone in our church has a grandmother, mother or sister in Ukraine. There are no words to describe what is going on there right now.
“We would ask people to pray for Ukraine, pray for peace, pray for every family, every mother, every soldier who is defending the country. You can also donate clothes, medicines and food for us to take over there.
“We have never ever been so proud to be Ukrainians as now. This has brought us all together and we have never been so strong as we are now.”
Organiser Olena Hravovenska said: “The biggest problem at the moment is our aid getting stuck at the British border with the EU because of the bureaucracy and paperwork. We would ask for a simplified procedure for such an ad hoc situation. We have 128 pallets stuck here and people in Ukraine needing the food and medicines.”
Another of the organisers, Alla Irodenko, said: “We have had an overwhelming response from our communities. All nationalities and religions are coming through our doors every single day, non-stop. Supplies will be shipped to Ukraine to those most in need.
“My aunties are in an un-safe area and they are petrified as they don’t know what is happening. There is not much they can do except to try to keep safe. We would ask people to pray for us, pray for our soldiers and families. We need help to end this.”
Bishop Alan told church members that the Diocese of East Anglia Lenten alms will be going to Aid to the Church in Need to help Ukrainian refugees.
“You have become famous since you appeared on the TV for collecting aid,” he said. “I pray that God will grant you the space to get the donations to the Ukraine and shift minds and hearts in governments. All I can do is express our love and prayers for you.”
Bishop Alan then led the parishioners in prayer: “We ask you God to grant peace to your world, peace to the people in Ukraine, peace to all of our communities, to our families and put your peace in our hearts. We seek an end to the invasion and for all those people who have suffered under the present attacks and for all of those who have died.
“Most of the world has come together against what has happened in Ukraine and it must be good to know that there are so many people supporting you,” he said.
The team at St Olga’s are also trying to locate a local warehouse to help store supplies. You can contact them on 07974 244581.
The Ukraine community group based at St Olga’s have also launched an appeal to raise £7,500 to pay for the transport of donated aid supplies. You can find it here.
Click here to see some pictures of the visit or view the full gallery below Pictures by Keith Morris/rcdea.org.uk