REDEMPTORISTS in the Ukraine who are sheltering refugees are struggling to find flour to bake the hundreds of loaves needed every day.
And with the Limerick Redemptorists appeal now standing at more than €400,000, the money will prove a God-send for the priests taking care of refugees and orphans in the war-torn country.
Ironically, Ukraine is one of the major European producers of grain, but the ravages of war have all but stopped supplies flowing in the bombarded country.
Speaking with the Limerick Post while air raids were taking place overhead at the Ivano-Frankivsk monastery this week, Fr Taras Kchik – who previously visited Limerick to help with the Novena – said that the bakery at the monastery bakes through the night to produce the 200 loaves of bread which are needed just to feed the refugees.
The bakery also supplies other monasteries where Ukrainians are sheltering and they continue with a second shift during the day.
“How ever many loaves we bake, there are always more people who need them,” he said.
Fr Taras and four other priests are working at the monastery in Kharkiv, where 40 orphans, ten of their carers and more than 40 adult refugees are being cared for.
Four of the orphans had to be hospitalised in recent days suffering from a virus which was exacerbated by stress.
The Redemptorist community was extremely worried about the frail children, but all have now been discharged back into their care.
Refugees have been coming to Ivano-Frankivsk on a daily basis, as it is an officially designated shelter.
“We are an official shelter but we are not a bomb shelter. We have just the church basement, which is better than being above ground,” Fr Taras said.
But despite the war being a daily threat, the Redemptorist priest revealed: “We’re not leaving. We will stay here as long as we are needed to provide shelter.”
Redemptorist father and Limerick native, Gerry O’Connor, explained that he is trying to source an ongoing supply of flour in Germany or Slovakia, as both are close enough to Ukraine to cut down transport costs.
“The concern is getting an ongoing supply and getting it into the Ukraine safely, Nothing is without risk,” he said.
Fr O’Connor is also trying to transport a generator from Dublin to Ukraine.
“So far, they have electricity but, as the war progresses, we anticipate that the Russian forces intention is to cut it off.”
Ireland has also supplied another small but vital donation in the form of a couple of thousand pairs of warm socks, which are badly needed against the cold.
Meanwhile, the Redemptorist appeal is still open for much-needed donations, which can be made by credit card on 061 315099.
Cheques made payable to the Redemptorists Limerick may be mailed to Fr Seamus Enright, Mount St Alphonsus, South Circular Road Limerick.