There are state laws and spiritual laws. And one of such spiritual laws is the service of Man in this world. One undoubtedly enriches oneself with love, kindness and strength being at the disposal of others. This is how God's plan for the man-creator is fulfilled — a person whose spiritual forces are directed into creation and life's development. And for everyone, this "creation" is something of one’s own.
God sends each of us to the right place to serve. And I am grateful for a great opportunity to talk to the staff of Caritas-Spes Yablunytsia and ask them about their work. How do they manage to create such a wonderful atmosphere of friendliness, peace and consolation in this beautiful Carpathian corner?
Ivan Yuriiovych Panasko, Director of Caritas-Spes Yablunytsia
My ministry at Caritas Spes Yablunytsia began when I met Father Peter Zharkovskiy. Three years after the acquaintance, he offered me to become a director of the Center. This was a new field of activity in a new region.
I used to work in central Ukraine, where mentality is different from that of people, we started to develop the Center with. An essential feature of my new activity was that it was not a "secular" job but a combination of practical employment, charity and service to Christ.
At Caritas-Spes Yablunytsia, serving people lasts 24 hours a day. No matter when people come, they can always hope for a friendly meeting, delicious food and accommodation. We try to keep the commandment of love for our neighbors. Even if I am exhausted, God gives me strength for everything that needs to be done. We work step by step towards achieving our goals. These are, first of all, reduction of energy consumption, development of internal and external fundraising system and increase of the staff from 26 people currently working to 100. We also want to increase the number of children who come to Yablunytsia for free. We plan to bring our Center to the top 10 children's health camps in Ukraine.
There is a church on the territory of our Center where the Divine Liturgy is served. Christ is with us when we serve people, each with one’s work. We try to do our duty with a clear conscience and the Lord Himself directs everything.
Sister Kamila Karmaliuk (honorary)
Our Center was established in 1990 as an institution to rehabilitate children affected by the Chornobyl accident. Later, the boarding house opened its doors to all who needed rest, physical and moral rehabilitation. But the tradition of hosting children's camps remains. Approximately 2,000 children have a rest in the children's camp every year. Now when the war is going on in Ukraine, the Center has become a refuge for internally displaced persons.
The very name of the Caritas-Spes Yablunytsia branch includes our mission, for which we all work together as one. The name means in Latin "merciful love and hope". And it is moral, material, spiritual and physical mercy, that we try to give to our visitors. We want them to leave the Center when they are ready, being reassured, spiritually and physically strengthened. We try to create all the conditions for the treatment of human souls.
Our ministry to people has several important components. The first one is spiritual service. There is a church and a chapel on the territory of the Center. The father and sisters who serve in the Center pray for all the people who were, are and will be here with us. And I am convinced that the comfort, peace and joy that people feel here are created by the prayers. God's Grace fulfills our Center. We preach Christ to the people, but we do not impose our beliefs, because we sincerely want people to feel comfortable and free with us, with dignity. And for this, people must make their own choice without hindrance.
The sisters and all the staff of the Center try to keep the commandments of love for God and neighbor. It is important for us that by means of our ministry, we communicate the power of God's grace and love to others.
Through prayer and good deeds, we seek to receive the Holy Spirit and then embrace others with His grace, a gift of God. Secondly, each sister does her "material" service at the Center. Sister Oleksiia washes and irons clothes for people and maintains the cleanliness and order in the church and chapel. Sister Liudmyla sorts humanitarian aid to make it easier for people to find everything they need and conducts catechism classes for our youngest preschoolers. Sister Yustyna, a practicing psychologist, conducts various workshops for children. Children and adults can turn to her for psychological support. Sister Nelia decorates the Liturgy with her singing and musical accompaniment.
My main task is to work with the staff, mostly with our employees who work in the kitchen. And I think it's essential that we all feel like one team in our ministry. Therefore, when we pray, we are all together, we celebrate birthdays all together and also have rest together. People from our team see that we are completely open to them, and there is trust and mutual understanding between us. And we treat people who come to us with the same open heart. I also hold meetings where we discuss the main and most important issues of the catechism with the adult residents of the Center. I organize mass events, such as dances, trips, etc.
And I am always ready to face new challenges that God puts in front of me during the service in our Center. I always hope for God's help in all things. My ministry is an open heart to God and people, expressed in prayer and deeds. I believe that all our good dreams come true. My soul longs to be in eternity with God. Another of my most cherished dreams is to go to Mexico, to touch the holy image in the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. As for my activities in the Center, I dream that our Center will remain a cradle for those who seek for the peace of mind. I dream to make our Center an oasis for the healing and recovery of people in need.
At all times, as long as the world goes around, one of the works of mercy has always been to feed those in need. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself had mercy on thousands of people who came to Him to listen to the Word of God and be healed, turned a few loaves and fishes into large quantities of food and fed the hungry. We know that our Lord and the Apostles also spent the donations people made to Jesus to feed the poor. And in our Caritas-Spes Yablunytsia center, there are some wonderful people making sure that all the residents of the Center are fed, and the food is tasty and healthy.
Mrs. Myroslava, chef
I have been working in our Center for almost 4 years. The whole team of our kitchen can be called a family. We have become very close while working together. Our Center accepts very different people: mothers, children, the disabled and everyone who needs spiritual and physical rehabilitation or just rest. My work has always been a service, and especially now, when there is a war, and we accept people who have left their homes. We try not only to cook but also to comfort people if we see it is necessary. We try to make people feel cared for. After all, negativity exhausts people, whereas care comforts them. When a person is morally calm, he or she recovers quickly. When our guests feel good, they change and become softer and kinder. We get used to people and learn to understand who needs what.
When our guests smile and thank us, it comforts us, especially when we are tired. We have from 200 to 300 inhabitants after all. For example, to prepare delicious pancakes for such a large number of people, our employees work all day without squatting, snacking in a hurry. I have been working in this field all my life – I cook for people. And I do my best to cook so that people like the food, it is tasty and healthy.
Children are our young present and our future. Talented animators take care of children's leisure in the Caritas-Spes Yablunytsia center. They are creative, inspired and love children very much.
Children are essential to me. When I spend time with them, do various activities or play, I feel I am doing the work of my life. They hug me, say different kind words, and I love them and want to give them my love. I try to teach children kindness, respect, loyalty to each other and love.
I encourage them to listen to me and each other. The way of service in my life is through pedagogical work with children, by giving them my support and love. And this is a mutual joy we provide each other with.
Written by Olena Bichenok, a resident of the Center.