BALTIMORE — Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore joined a small group of leaders from the Knights of Columbus on a four-day trip to Poland and Ukraine to help distribute aid from the fraternal organization to orphanages and other service centers assisting refugees from the war in Ukraine.
Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly established the Ukraine Solidarity Fund in February to assist with food, shelter, clothing and other supplies.
During this trip, the Knights brought care packages for internally displaced persons and also provided monetary support for the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the Latin-rite Church in Ukraine and for the orphanage run by the Archdiocese of Czestochowa, Poland.
In a video interview Oct. 2 from Lviv, Ukraine, where he had completed a day of gatherings with Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, the city’s Latin-rite bishop and president of the country’s Latin-rite bishops’ conference, among others, Archbishop Lori said he sees a lot of resilience in the Ukrainian people.
“The Ukrainians are a very sturdy people, a courageous people. What I’m seeing is beautiful hope,” he told the Catholic Review, magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
“You see it (resilience) in the people, in the general populace. … And there are people — war or no war — they’re out there, their families are out there, lots of young people are out there and they are doing their very best to carry on as if there is no war. I think there’s great resiliency here in Ukraine,” Archbishop Lori said.
On the second day of the trip, the group stopped at an orphanage near Czestochowa near the famed shrine.
At the parish of St. Wojciech there, the archbishop helped distribute warm coats as part of the Knights’ Coats for Kids campaign. He also gave out little treats during lunch time.
“What’s interesting is that a lot of these children were from families that already were in difficult situations,” Archbishop Lori said. “Some of them were families that were broken up, some of them did not have any kind of stability before the war.”
“But once the war broke out, their situation just got worse,” he said. “Many of them have no one in the world to look after them; their families have been dispersed or whatever. And so, Caritas (the Catholic charity) of Krakow has taken them in.”
Archbishop Lori said the Ukraine Solidarity Fund and the efforts in Poland and Ukraine to assist those affected by the war represent “an unbroken chain of charity.”
The Knights of Columbus, especially in the United States and Canada, raised a significant amount of money. Knights in Poland and Ukraine have added to the funds and also are the points of distribution for the financial assistance.
As of Oct. 3, the Ukraine Solidarity Fund had raised more than $19 million from more than 56,000 donors, including a $1.5 million pledge from the Knights’ Supreme Council.
According to Steven Curtis, vice president of corporate communications for the Knights of Columbus, 100% of donations are used to assist those directly affected by the conflict in Ukraine.
According to Szymon Czyszek, director of International Growth in Europe for the Knights of Columbus, more than 40,000 care packages and more than 1.2 million pounds of supplies including food, medicine and clothing have been distributed so far as a result of the Ukraine Solidarity Fund.