Visit to VMY Ukraine 2010
August 23 – 27, 2010
On the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the death of Saint Vincent and Saint Louise, and for the often expressed desire by young people, Vincentian Fathers, Daughters of Charity and also by the Vincentian Family Commission of Eastern Europe, VMY Ukraine, Belarus and Russia decided to organize a meeting. It took place in a village called Sinjak in Transcarpathia, Ukraine. There were over 40 youth and advisors participating, including those invited from Slovakia and VMY International Team.
We traveled with the delegation of Slovakia. Participants were waiting for us all gathered in church to celebrate Mass. After a delicious dinner we took a rest to be able to start a new day with strength.
The first day, August 24, was in charge of the delegation of the VMY International Secretariat – Argelys and Katarína. We began with meditative prayer in several languages (Russian, Polish, Slovak, Ukrainian, and Spanish). After breakfast we returned to the church where each group made its presentation. The group of Belarus was the first introduced, and the rest of the following groups were from Ukraine – cities of Svalyava, Charkov, the area known as Bukovina. We missed the representatives of Russia who could not attend.
At 11:00 we started with the first part of our conference. The majority was devoted to the origins of the Association, with the intention of making it as simple as possible. We explained the history and nature in basic form. After an hour we decided to make a break to cool off a little bit. Following the conference, we questioned us about why do we exist as an association, why are we members of the Association, what is special in VMY… After a delicious lunch and a short break we continue with the Rosary of Mercy prior to the Eucharist.
At 17:00 we organized the participants into two groups. The first group was advisers and animators accompanied by Argelys and the second group were the young members talking about the stages of life of a group, together with Katarina. The youth worked very well, for groups it was a time of knowing better each other, and enabling all present to see more clearly the reality that exists in Ukraine and Belarus at the level of the Association.
At the end we came together to share our work and invited all to think about what future may have the Association in Eastern Europe. Evening prayer was in the form of Adoration in the church. We finished the day with a “joyful night”, where youth from Svalyava presented us a religious rap.
The program for the next day, August 25, was carried out by the delegation of VMY Slovakia. We began with Eucharist at 8:00, than the Slovak delegation presented the history and experiences of the Association in the country, the difficulties and joys, activities and challenges. We learned a few songs with dynamics and in the afternoon we climb a mountain by a tourist road. At the top of the hill each pronounced the prayer Hail Mary in own language. At night we danced to “faint” tired and exhausted we went to sleep with the joy of the experience.
On Thursday, August 26, we did the summary of all our work over the past few days. The Morning Prayer was followed by group work where participants divided into four groups had to answer a few questions. Each group presented their suggestions; we made a synthesis of all, to have a clear vision of what young people want. At the end, after Mass and lunch, was set up a team of coordination between groups with the presence of three sisters, three girls and a Vincentian father. We put high hopes on this new team. In the afternoon we said good bye to the delegation of Belarus and Svalyava and the rest of the young people enjoyed the last “joyful night”. Young people prepared various funny theaters and dynamics.
The last day in Ukraine, Friday, August 27, we had luck to be invited to the Mass of Ordination of two new Vincentian priests at the Cathedral of St. Martin in the city of Mukachevo.
This meeting was a very enriching experience for all participants. We feel new challenges and tasks in these new steps of the VMY and its mission in Eastern Europe. Despite the difficulties, like the long distances between groups or a few Catholics in the country, we want to follow the path that Virgin Mary gave us 180 years ago. We thank God for these young people full of joy and simplicity and also for the possibility to be present during these days in Ukraine!
To Jesus with Mary!