Our parish is beginning a ‘Little Free Pantry’ for anyone to take what they need for no cost. Currently so many people find it hard to make ends meet, choosing between adequate food and paying bills. “Is this our responsibility?” some might ask. “Shouldn’t the government manage poverty and homelessness?”
This past week at the Synod of our Bishops in Ukraine, Bishop Tuchapets’ answered this question for us:
On Monday, July 11 Bishop Vasyl’ Tuchapets’, head of the UGCC’s Department of Social Service addressed the Synod on the theme: “An Analysis of the implementation of a social service strategy in the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church”.
Bishop Vasyl’ reminded the audience that the strategy and pastoral plan for the development of social services in the UGCC was endorsed by the Bishops’ Synod in 2016. This plan is based on three fundamental elements: nurturing a spirit of generosity and social responsibility in the faithful, service for the good of those in need, and institutional development and raising of qualifications of those who provide social supports.
“When we speak about nurturing a spirit of generosity and social responsibility, we hope to turn the attention of every one of our faithful to the fact that acts of compassion for those in need are an expression of our love for them, we are carrying out the commandment of love and that is the greatest Christian command.”
“As to service for those who suffer, the bishop added, this involves concrete acts of compassion. It is important that we as Church are not indifferent or passive to those in need, but rather we should attend to them and as much as we are able, demonstrate compassion.”
During the working session the bishops exchanged ideas about the best way to serve those in need during the russian aggression against Ukraine. They especially emphasized the importance of advancing the volunteer movement within the UGCC.
The third element of the strategy to enhance the social service of the UGCC, lies in institutional advancement and raising the calibre of those in social services. “If our services were more systematic, we could serve more and better, . . . we need to have responsible persons in every parish of the UGCC who would take responsibility for initiating assistance to those in need in the area.
“Today Ukraine is in a state of war and we see that many people, especially in the eastern and southern provinces of Ukraine, have left their homes, are refugees outside the country or have been forced from their homes and need assistance in the places they now reside. So at this time, as Church, we turn our attention to these people to serve them.”
The bishop added, “But there are people who have remained in place and we must serve them too. We want every one of our parishes to become a place where God’s mercy is evident to anyone in need,” summarized Bishop Vasyl.