Priests descend into bomb shelters: Divine Liturgy in the Kyiv metro

Monday, 28 March 2022, 09:08
One of the metro stations of central Kyiv, which serves as a bomb shelter for residents of the capital, was also the site of the Divine Liturgy, served by priests of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church.

Photo caption:

Fr. Toma Kushka, OSBM in the Kyivan metro.  Photo (Facebook) – Josaphat Kovaliuk

Fr. Josaphat Kovaliuk, OSBM and Fr. Toma Kushka, OSBM.  Photo (Facebook) – Josaphat Kovaliuk

Fathers Josaphat Kovaliuk and Toma Kushka, OSBM, as well as other Basilian Fathers in Kyiv, who have descended into the bomb shelters on numerous occasions, were there for a special reason this time.  They had never served the Divine Liturgy in the capital’s metro before.  This was a first not only for the priests, but also for the peaceful Ukrainians, who had been sheltering from Russian bombs and rockets in the Kyivan metro station.

“This metro station houses a lot of people that come here for safety, or that even live here,” explains Fr. Josaphat, who celebrated the Divine Liturgy. 

Viktoria, a parishioner of Kyiv’s St Basil the Great church, helped to organize the celebration of the subway Divine Liturgy.  She is a medic at the station, explained the priest.

“Most of the people reacted positively to this initiative, and gladly prayed with us.  And although the liturgy’s participants were from various denominations, we felt a unity in prayer to the One God,” said Fr. Josaphat.

He admitted that it was a special moment for him personally, when he could be with people who needed support, and could pray together to stop the war, pray for our soldiers, and for peace on this earth.

When one of the monks serves Divine Liturgy, another hears confessions.  Fr. Toma tries to support people with words of encouragement.  And he doesn’t refuse anyone who simply needs to talk to someone, without confession.

In these troubling times, the Kyivan Basilian Fathers are assisted by the Basilian Sisters, who help by singing the responses and cantoring during the Divine Liturgy in the Kyivan metro.

“During the war, Basilian Sisters Yelena from Zhytomyr and Yelysaveta from Lviv serve in our church.  Our priests often visit the metro stations with them, to talk with the people, to support them spiritually, to administer the Sacrament of Penance,” explains Fr. Josaphat.

“We’re grateful to the Basilian Sisters who help us in our spiritual ministry,” he adds, “and also to the volunteers for their service in this difficult time.”

The celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Kyivan metro station was a first, but they assured us that it would not be the last time.  “We make pastoral visits almost every day, and from now on, we plan to have a Divine Liturgy once or twice a week.  We want to visit other stations, also,” said Fr. Josaphat.


Father Taras Zheplinsky, UGCC Department of Information

TAGS: war, Open Church

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