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Bishop Stanislav Shyrokoradiuk of the Kharkiv-Zaporizka Diocese visits the Yablunytsia Children’s Camp in Ivano-Frankivsk Region.

Children from eastern Ukraine continue their holiday in the Carpathians as part of the Father for Ukraine campaign.

This is the second group of children from eastern Ukraine to arrive in Yablunytsia for a holiday as part of the campaign, which will continue until the spring of 2018.

Every arriving group consists of about 50 people, including the children and their caregivers. The camp holiday lasts about a month.

Last week, the children received an unexpected visit from an important guest, were introduced to Hutsul culture, sang Christmas carols near a nativity scene and went sledding down a hill.

The unexpected visitor was Bishop of the Kharkiv-Zaporizka Diocese Stanislav Shyrokoradiuk, who arrived from Luhansk Region.

Although this was the first time that the little vacationers from eastern Ukraine had seen the Bishop, his easy manner and sense of humor helped to quickly melt the ice.

The Bishop asked, “Do you know who I am?” And one child answered, “The Pope.” The hall then erupted in laughter. One of the caregivers then added: “Maybe the child’s answer is a prophesy!”

The bishop joined in on the laughter. Then he told the children about his work in Kharkiv, about Pope Francis and the assignments that the Pope had given him.

During the visit, the children gave the bishop a demonstration of their dancing talents, sang him the “Little Grain” song and performed Soku-Bache-Vira.

As a memento of his visit, the children collected drawings they had made and presented them to the bishop, who then blessed the children.

The children’s visit coincided with the Christmas holidays, so it would have been strange if they had missed the chance to see the nativity scene set up at the church by Sister Yana Bilyakevych. It was the children’s first visit to a catholic church.

Gathered at the nativity scene, they recited Christmas poems and sang carols. Before departing, they left birthday cards for the baby Jesus. In return, they were given little icons in memory of Christmas in the Carpathians.

This week, in addition to their school lessons and arts and crafts, the children took a field trip to the town of Kolomiya.

Thanks to the hospitality shown to them by the administration of The National Museum of Hutsulshchyna and Pokuttya Folk Art, the children had the chance to delve into local culture and traditions.

Then we headed to the Pysanka Museum. The museum building looks like a giant Pysanka or Easter Egg, measuring 14 meters in height.

The sheer number of multicolored Easter eggs in the museum was enough to make one’s head spin. No two eggs were alike.

The next stop was The Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Christ (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church), where the priests served us lunch. One priest, Father Roman, shared with the children some interesting facts about the relatively “new” cathedral building, which is the biggest Greek Catholic church building in western Ukraine.

The children refreshed themselves both physically and spiritually at the beautiful Cathedral, while the caregivers and nuns who accompanied them enjoyed the warm hospitality shown to them.

The extremely busy week wrapped up with some sledding down a snowy hill, which was organized rather spontaneously. During the last few days of the children’s holiday, Yablunystsia received heavy snowfall, allowing the kids to play in the snow and sled down the hills.

Pictured in the photos: Bishop Stanislav Shyrokoradiuk of the Kharkiv-Zaporizka Diocese, Sister Anastasiya, and children from Ukraine’s war zone.

At the Pisanka Museum – no two eggs are decorated alike.

Children from eastern Ukraine at the The Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Christ.


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