Two years ago, on February 24 at 4:55 a.m., Ukraine shuddered from Russian missile strikes. Russia’s ruthless attack became the culmination of the aggressive war Moscow launched against Ukraine 10 years ago beginning with the occupation of Crimea in 2014. We Ukrainians remain ever courageous and continue to fight: we fight as soldiers on the battlefield, we teach and study to the blaring of air raid alarms; we volunteer, and we work with ingenuity and sacrifice to support those who heroically defend our freedom in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The fight continues, and we will be victorious!

UCU students, employees and graduates continue to defend Ukraine at the front. As of September 2023, 21 students, 13 employees and teachers, and more than 30 graduates serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Read the following to discover and understand how the UCU Community of students, teachers, parents, graduates, and generous donors are working together to bring Ukraine’s victory closer.

This concise report details the University’s activities during the second year of the full-scale war:

Humanitarian Aid

During the two years of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, together with donors, UCU allocated about 9 million dollars to humanitarian needs.

Infographic showing how much has been spent for humanitarian assistance as of February 24, 2024

UCU Volunteer Headquarters continues to provide medical and logistics support to military hospitals and mobile medical units, delivering medicines, provisions, clothes, and hygiene products to people affected by the Russian invasion.

In 2023, the Volunteer Center delivered over 75,739 medicinal items, 8,265 units of equipment, 4,294 items of clothing, 1,318 items of tactical medicine, 839 food packages, and multiple items to benefit children and families.

Student initiatives are an essential component of UCU’s humanitarian aid. To help overcome the consequences of the war and support the military, medics, and civilians, our students joined in making power banks and camouflage nets. They also made 7,000 trench candles, which were later sent to the Ukrainian military. Forty students participated in preparing dry soup mixes and meals for defenders together with the “Lviv Volunteer Kitchen” NGO.

Students preparing dry soup mixtures for the military at the “Lviv Volunteer Kitchen” NGO

Students prepare dry soup mixtures for the military at the “Lviv Volunteer Kitchen” NGO

“We make a lot of trench candles and send them to the military per specific requests. Keeping contact with soldiers–my friends–who are currently at the front, is very important to me. I feel calmer hearing good news, words of gratitude, or simply knowing they are online.” –Nataliia Batyhina, an employee of UCU, and coordinator of the group making trench candles.

UCU students continued to organize several excursions and workshops for children and youth who were forced to leave their homes due to the war.

Upholding tradition on Christmas and Easter, the University held multiple charity events in cities across Ukraine, including “Bethlehem Hospitality” (Christmas Eve for people in need) along with “Celebrating Christmas Together” and “Celebrating Easter Together”.

“Celebrating Easter Together” in Zaporizhzhia and in the Shyrokivsk community brought together more than 100 people who attended events of the student initiative: Taizé prayers, master classes for children, games, and haivky (spring dance songs).

UCU students brought the spirit of Christmas to Poltava and the Izium Region with carols and Vertep (the Nativity play). Carolers collected 106,000 hryvnias, which were donated to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

In the summer of 2023, the UCU student organization “United Ukraine” organized “Mobile Schools” for children from the de-occupied villages of the Kharkiv Region. Students and graduates of our University became instructors via the non-formal education project – witnessing, communicating and serving the UCU mission to Ukrainians in need of help and hope.

Assisting the Armed Forces of Ukraine

The Ukrainian Catholic University community regularly raises funds for the needs of the Ukrainian military, particularly for employees, students, and graduates fighting at the front.

The UCU Community bought an SUV for Andriy Kozyk, senior engineer of the Maintenance Department of UCU and the battery commander of the 36th Marine Brigade. Procuring vehicle tires for Ihor Lysy, along with providing supplies for transport vehicles, is an ongoing support project.

On the eve of the 2023 summer graduation ceremonies, UCU started collecting funds for the aerial reconnaissance group of the 103rd Separate Brigade of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The UCU Community collected 71,100 UAH, and the University, through donor generosity, was able to triple the amount, raising it to 210,000 UAH.

The Faculty of Applied Sciences team collected and handed over aid in the total amount of over UAH 1,509,764 to the military personnel in the Defense Forces. They regularly organize online meetings and charity auctions to purchase necessary equipment.

Together with the “Dzyga’s Paw” Foundation, the UCU Community of alumni collected UAH 883,471.

The UCU Rector’s Office organized the tailoring of fleece jackets, T-shirts, and uniform patches for our defenders.

Additionally, with the help of benefactors, the university provided a military hospital in Lviv with a state-of-the-art microscope for neurosurgical operations.

Fr. Bohdan Prach, Rafal Dutkevych, and Andriy Sadovyi handing over the microscope

Fr. Bohdan Prach, Rafal Dutkevych, and Andriy Sadovyi handing over the microscope

UCU Legal Clinic

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Law Clinic of the UCU Law School, under the leadership of Khrystyna Kovtsun, continues to provide legal assistance to those affected by the war. We are grateful for the support of partners from the Office of the Council of Europe in Ukraine in this project.

The clinic’s team launched a chatbot to provide legal assistance to internally displaced persons.

Students also developed and published an algorithm for those who wish to receive compensation for property destroyed or damaged by war.

The legal clinic established cooperation with the “SuperHumans” center. The center’s volunteers provide counselling for military personnel undergoing the process of getting prosthetics and rehabilitation, while curators conduct educational training.

Also, students of the Law School participate in field monitoring trips to document war crimes within the framework of the “Tribune for Putin” initiative.

Volunteers of the Legal Clinic conduct consultations for veterans’ families in Chervonohrad

Volunteers of the Legal Clinic conduct consultations for veterans’ families in Chervonohrad

Challenges of Time and Resources

Due to the full-scale war and new challenges faced by Ukrainian society and universities, the UCU Management Team has made the decision to step forward from the current strategic initiatives towards implementing strategic goals culminating in 2030.

The new vision of the UCU Strategy 2030 retains the name and purpose “A University That Serves”.

This bold vision outlines the strategic framework of areas where the University must exercise leadership in the next eight years: offering a contemporary Christian proposal to the person of the 21st century, healing the wounds of war, modernizing Ukraine, and promoting the Ukrainian agenda worldwide.

Rector Taras Dobko speaking during the presentation of Strategy 2030

Rector Taras Dobko during the presentation of Strategy 2030

“Due to the war and the challenges of the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine, the demands and expectations society sets for UCU, the Church, the authorities, and businesses have grown significantly and will continue to do so. These might exceed the capabilities of such a small university. Therefore, we must seek new, efficient tools for better and more efficient service.” –UCU Rector Taras Dobko

“Our goal is to increase the university’s impact through various formats of interaction and learning so that UCU can meet social and educational needs and respond to community requests caused by the war.” –UCU Vice-Rector for Strategic Development Sophia Opatska.

Infographic showing UCU's strategic framework: healing the wounds of war, promoting Ukraine on the international agenda, a moral proposal for the human person of the 21st century, rebuilding and renewing Ukraine

Healing the Wounds of War

The war leaves scars on Ukraine’s body and in Ukrainians’ souls. Rehabilitation, aimed at healing the human body and soul and reintegrating a person into social life, will be vital to restoring Ukrainian society.

Promoting psychological well-being is integral to the university’s updated development strategy. For this purpose, the crisis center “Poradnia” operates at UCU. The center’s consultants are students of the Master’s Program In Psychology and Psychotherapy, with appropriate training and practice under the supervision of professional psychotherapists and department teachers.

In the second year of the full-scale invasion, the counselors supported 472 people (170% more than last year), conducted about 3,000 sessions and exercised 70 supervisions. They provided crisis support for 95 clients and 110 internally displaced persons.

Panel of people speaking for the Presentation of “Psychological Counseling Center” at the UCU Days

Presentation of “Psychological Counseling Center” at the UCU Days

Also, graduates of the Faculty of Health Sciences and second-year master’s students joined the work of the volunteer center of the Department of Psychology and Psychotherapy based on the psycho-neurological dispensary. Volunteers provide for psychodynamic groups, offer music and art therapy sessions, and organized a film club.

Over the past year, psychological (psychotherapeutic) assistance was provided to about 150 patients and about 120 experimental psychological examinations were conducted for patients undergoing inpatient treatment.

Through joint efforts, students and teachers of the Faculty of Health Sciences help patients affected by the war to return to normal life.

Based on the Physical Rehabilitation Department, a separate unit of the St. Panteleimon Hospital, the First Lviv Territorial Medical Association project “Complex Rehabilitation of Combat-Injured” is being implemented. Students of the Master’s Programs in “Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy”, “Clinical Psychology”, and “Social Work” are involved in this project. The team has united 23 specialists to help patients recover comprehensively from injuries.

UCU students in a a rehab facility

UCU is at the forefront of providing education and services through the “Physical and Occupational Therapy” Master’s Program. Although the occupational therapist profession is young in Ukraine, it is developing rapidly, as there is a great demand from Ukrainian communities for specialists who help people – both military and civilian – recover from their injuries.

Anna Kovalyk, a program graduate, says: “Ergotherapy teaches patients to live. Many patients require occupational therapy. Unfortunately, we understand that their number will continue to increase. In the post-war years, we will have to face up to these consequences.”

UCU specialists also participated in creating the National Program of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support. In April 2023, the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, and the First Lady of Latvia, Andra Levite, visited UCU. Olena Zelenska is the initiator of the All-Ukrainian mental health program. She met with the UCU management team and discussed cooperation within the national program.

“Despite all the hardships we face, we choose not to be a nation of people suffering from the wounds of war and bleeding for the rest of their lives. Our choice is to heal these wounds and steadfastly face the trials of war.” –Oleh Romanchuk, Director of the UCU Institute of Mental Health.

Oleh Romanchuk, Andra Levite, Olena Zelenska, Fr. Bohdan Praсh speaking

Oleh Romanchuk, Andra Levite, Olena Zelenska, Fr. Bohdan Praсh

UCU Medical Clinic

UCU Medical Clinic is one of the most important projects initiated by the University.

Its goal is a comprehensive approach to healing the nation. One of the tasks is to provide primary medical care, teach patients to take care of their health and become a base for the practice of future rehabilitators and occupational therapists.

Veterans Office

UCU established the Office for Affairs of Veterans and Their Families to help service members returning from the war and their loved ones. The main task of the Office is to support war veterans and their families, as well as the families of fallen defenders of Ukraine, providing them with educational opportunities, legal, psychological, spiritual and social support, medical help, rehabilitation and physical therapy services.

“We want to create a veteran community at the university where they feel comfortable, understood, and supported. This concerns the creation of an inclusive space and access to various university resources.” –Pavlo Koval, Head of the Office

Pavlo Koval, Head of the Office for Affairs of Veterans and Their Families

Pavlo Koval, Head of the Office for Affairs of Veterans and Their Families

Pastoral Support

In response to the request of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC, UCU experts took part in developing the “Healing the Wounds of War” educational program. The course provides training in mental health, pastoral care and theology. The main goal is to train priests to offer professional help and care to those affected by the war. Three thousand pastors will take part in the program.

Oleh Romanchuk delivering a lecture in front of a group of seated participants

Oleh Romanchuk delivers a lecture as part of the “Healing the Wounds of War” program

In addition, under the auspices of the Deanery of Pastoral Affairs, the university conducts daily liturgical services, memorial services for those who died during the war, as well as pastoral work with all who need spiritual advice and guidance: military personnel, displaced persons, students and employees whose relatives serve in the Armed Forces. Together with the University Choir “Stritennya”, the Deanery of Pastoral Affairs organized trips to the East of Ukraine to offer local people spiritual support and visit wounded soldiers in military hospitals.

Together with the UGCC military chaplain, Fr. Yuriy Khamuliak, they collected 70 gift boxes for children and needy families living in the frontline areas.

A group of artists and theologians completed the mosaic in the Church of St Sophia – the Holy Wisdom of God. It took two and a half years, as the works were conducted during “covid” and then in wartime. The mosaic depicts St Sophia blessing the newly created world.

International Academic Support

Despite the challenges of war, UCU continues to establish active international cooperation. During the second year of the full-scale war, the sustainable international academic solidarity laid the groundwork for the initiative “Network of Solidarity and Strategic Partnership with UCU” (2022-2023) which allowed for the development of an extensive network of partnerships with universities abroad and increase the number of students and teachers participating in international mobility programs.

In the past academic year, 157 UCU students participated in semester study programs abroad, and 103 participated in various short-term programs.

The University of Notre Dame has shown solidarity with Ukraine and UCU in many vital aspects, particularly by bolstering strategic cooperation in the academic sphere. The partnership between the two universities was recognized with the prestigious Heiskell Award for innovative partnerships fostering international education and demonstrating strong, sustainable linkages among higher education institutions.

UCU also has 46 active Erasmus+ contracts and 88 bilateral cooperation contracts.

We are grateful to our friends for jointly forming a network of solidarity. Let us continue to create the beginning of a global Ukrainian University together!

Telling the World About Ukraine

Scientists, experts and the UCU leadership team actively represent Ukrainians worldwide. Every day, our spokespersons give public interviews, testify, and speak on international platforms, conveying the truth about Ukraine to the world. Rector’s advisor Myroslav Marynovych, historians Yaroslav Hrytsak and Oleh Turii, Rector Taras Dobko, UCU President and Metropolitan of Philadelphia Borys Gudziak and many others are among them.

In May 2023, UCU President Metropolitan Borys Gudziak of Philadelphia became an honorary speaker at three American universities: The University of San Francisco, Seton Hall University in New Jersey and Ave Maria Law School (Florida)

Metropolitan Borys receiving an honorary doctorate in law from the Ave Maria School of Law

Metropolitan Borys receives an honorary doctorate in law from the Ave Maria School of Law

The Information and Marketing Department of UCU continues to publish interviews with experts, scientists and the military from the community about Ukrainian resilience.

The team collects English-language materials about the university’s activities on the website: https://warinua.ucu.edu.ua/

Up-to-date information about UCU’s activities can be found on the official pages:

For the second year, a team of volunteers has been working on the “Little Stories of a Big War” project, aimed at sharing the stories of Ukrainians who show inspiring examples of resilience, courage and self-sacrifice. Volunteers have recorded more than 200 interviews with volunteers, public activists, and military personnel who fight for our country at the front. These stories will become a scientific base for future researchers.

The University continues its scientific activities. With the help of foreign partners, UCU scientists are investigating the ideological and ethical roots of Russian aggression, the possibilities of church diplomacy, and reassessing the issues of war and peace.

The foundations of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Canada and the USA are working to attract donor support. At the beginning of the second year of the full-scale invasion, UCU opened a Foundation in Poland with a center in Wroclaw. The mission of the Foundation is to unite and serve Ukrainians in Poland, as well as support and develop cooperation between the two countries. Over the year, the team held many discussions, strategic sessions, book presentations, and charity film screenings to become a platform for Ukrainians and Poles to meet in various spheres: cultural, religious, academic, and business.

Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University, Fr. Bohdan Prach, the Ordinary Bishop of the Wroclaw-Koszaly Diocese of the Greek Catholic Church in Poland, Bishop Włodzimierz Juszczak, and the former mayor of the city of Wroclaw (2002-2018), Rafał Dutkiewicz, at the ceremonial inauguration of the UCU Foundation in Wroclaw

Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University, Fr. Bohdan Prach, the Ordinary Bishop of the Wroclaw-Koszaly Diocese of the Greek Catholic Church in Poland, Bishop Włodzimierz Juszczak, and the former mayor of the city of Wroclaw (2002-2018), Rafał Dutkiewicz, at the ceremonial inauguration of the UCU Foundation in Wroclaw

Solidarity Visits and Support

The Ukrainian Catholic University receives many guests from abroad paying solidarity visits. Such international support for our community and all of Ukraine is essential in times of war.

Representatives of the charity organization CNEWA visited UCU to witness the consequences of the war and understand the needs of Ukrainians for further support.

Visit of the CNEWA Delegation to Ohmatdyt

Visit of the CNEWA Delegation to Ohmatdyt

John Barres, bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Center in New York and Sister Donna Markham, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, visited the center. “When you come to Ukraine, spend time here, and talk to people who have suffered from the war, you enter a different reality. I am very moved by the Ukrainian people’s strength, resilience, and faith,” says Sister Donna.

Bishop John Barres of the Diocese of Rockville Center in New York, Sister Donna Markham, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, and Bishop Borys

Bishop John Barres of the Diocese of Rockville Center in New York, Sister Donna Markham, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, and Bishop Borys

American Cardinal, Archbishop of the Chicago Archdiocese Blase J. Cupich and Assistant Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit (USA) Bishop Jeffrey Marc Monforton also paid a friendly visit to UCU.

The management team discussed UCU’s role in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine and opportunities for cooperation during the official visits of the Ambassador of Great Britain to Ukraine, Martin Harris, the Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine, Natalka Cmoc, and the Ambassador of Ireland to Ukraine, Therese Martina Healy.

Leading historian, Yale University professor, and good friend of Ukraine and UCU Timothy Snyder met with UCU students and teachers. “Perhaps Ukrainian resilience will become a prerequisite for a peaceful world. I think that sometimes you do not fully realize how impressive your self-sacrifice is in this fight for freedom and democracy,” the historian noted.

We are deeply grateful to the university’s friends for their solidarity visits and support for Ukraine. We are stronger together!

Service in Education

Since 2019, UCU has adopted the Service Learning (SL) approach. It corresponds to the third mission of Ukrainian Catholic University – to use the knowledge and other capabilities of the University outside the academic environment to benefit society.

This format allowed students and teachers to join the fight against the enemy during the full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine.

Service is not only part of the mission of the Ukrainian Catholic University but also the main focus of the new project “Service Learning in Higher Education for the Restoration of Ukraine”. The project within the framework of the Erasmus+ initiative is implemented by a consortium of universities prepared to “brave deep waters” and serve their communities in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine, introducing the Service Learning approach for students.

*In the spring of 2023, the Ukrainian Catholic University, Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, National Technical University “Dnipro Polytechnic”, National University of Water Management and Nature Resources Use, Sumy State University, Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) united to create the Alliance of Ukrainian Universities for rebuilding Ukraine and developing communities.

Meeting of the Alliance of Ukrainian Universities outside of UCU

Meeting of the Alliance of Ukrainian Universities

Within the framework of cooperation between the UCU Community and experts from other Ukrainian universities, we are working to develop local governance, improve project management skills and help attract community funding.

*The UCU Applied Sciences Faculty organized a six-month course for veterans and military personnel, “From the Frontline to Data Science Consulting”. The Faculty team also launched a course for students, “Operational Activities of Charitable Organizations”, outlining vital aspects of effective management of charitable funds.

Participants of the certificate program for veterans and military personnel “From the Frontline to Data Science Consulting”

Participants of the certificate program for veterans and military personnel “From the Frontline to Data Science Consulting”

Building and Preserving Culture

The UCU School Theater “On Simon’s Pillars” continues its artistic, educational and therapeutic activities. During the second year of the full-scale war, the theater held more than 50 artistic and educational events and collected about 150,000 hryvnias in support of actors, directors and other artists fighting to protect Ukrainians, allowing others to create in times of war.

To support relocated artists from different parts of Ukraine, UCU held an artistic plein air with the participation of 13 artists who create modern art to oppose fear, chaos and disappointment. Some works created during the plein air were later presented at a silent auction at the UCU Charity Evening in Kyiv.

Plein air participants

Plein air participants

Russian aggression demonstrated the great relevance of preserving cultural heritage.

The UCU exhibition project “Images of the Collection. How Ivan Grechko Sought Beauty” opened in Lviv. The best works from Ivan Grechko’s collection were displayed at the exhibition. This is one of the largest collections of Ukrainian glass icons from the Hutsul region and Pokuttia, incunabula, candlesticks, handmade crosses, pysanky, ceramics, textiles, and wooden sculptures.

Lviv residents attending the opening of the exhibition in the Gunpowder Tower

More than a hundred Lviv residents attended the opening of the exhibition in the Gunpowder Tower

The Metropolitan Sheptytsky Center continues to carry out its socio-cultural mission. Having changed the focal points, the team began to rethink the impact of the war, the phenomenon of Ukrainian resilience and the need to preserve cultural heritage. During the second year of the full-scale war, 100 thematic events and initiatives were implemented, and new partnerships were established.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

Unfortunately, in two years of the full-scale war, our community lost 28 Heroes, including students, graduates and close relatives.

During each Liturgy, the University community commemorates those who gave their lives for the future of Ukraine and asks the Merciful Lord to accept their souls in His Kingdom.

28 fallen heroes from UCU

To share the pain of those who lost their loved ones and hear each defender’s story, the President of UCU, Bishop Borys Gudziak, and Vice-President, Fr. Bohdan Prach, initiated meetings with the Heroes’ families. “It’s easier to bear the sting of tears when we are together. We want to share your pain. We must be strong so we can give hope to others. Your loved ones are Heroes, for they gave their lives for the freedom of Ukraine. Tell others about them, preserve memories of them for future generations.” –Fr. Bohdan Prach

To honor the invaluable contribution of the fallen Heroes to the preservation of the Ukrainian state, the Ukrainian Catholic University established permanent scholarship funds (endowments).

These are funds named after UCU graduates Artemiy Dymyd, Taras Hayduk, Andrii Dobrovetskyi, Oles Shcherba, students Oleh Vorobyov, Oleh Kurskyi, and Oleksandr Megel.

Each fund’s goal is to raise $100,000 to provide annual scholarship support to students who will remember the Heroes and follow their example.

You can read more stories about defenders who took up arms to defend the state and each of us: Stories of Defenders from the UCU Community

You can read about the Heroes from the UCU community who paid the ultimate price to defend our Homeland – their lives – here: War Heroes

Our fight continues. The evil does not sleep, and so we must unite to overcome it! A strong spirit and interpersonal solidarity are the prerequisites for our victory.

“Discouragement and resentment pose the biggest threat to Ukraine. It is normal to get tired, for our strength is bound to diminish with time. It is only natural to feel anger and hatred when witnessing such cunning and violence, bloodshed and death, and the destruction of cities and dreams. And yet, our task is to look at these processes and contemplate what the Lord wants to reveal to us. Know that God’s truth will prevail… I thank all of you for your love. Let us promise each other that this is not the end, that we shall not give up, that no one will take away our dignity, love, and solidarity.” – Metropolitan of Philadelphia Borys Gudziak.

As Ukrainian Catholic University continues its mission of “Witnessing, Communicating and Serving” the Gospel, we share this mission with you and because of you and your generosity they are able to continue building and rebuilding a stronger Ukraine.

We express our deep gratitude for the ongoing support of our philanthropic partners for helping Ukraine:

  • Ukrainian Catholic University Foundation (USA)
  • Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation (Canada)
  • Philadelphia Archeparchy of the UGCC in the USA
  • Catholic dioceses of Germany
  • “Plast” (France)
  • CNEW (Canada)
  • “Renovabis” Foundation (Germany)
  • Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organizations
  • Charity organization “Center for Volunteering and Protection”
  • Porticus
  • UNICEF
  • Ginger Foundation
  • Omelan and Tatiana Antonovych Foundations
  • University of Notre Dame (Australia)
  • Drs Timothy and Luba Flanigan
  • Catholic Peace Foundation (Hamburg)
  • McKinsey Organization for Children
  • Organization”UK4UA.ORG”
  • Hundreds of benefactors from the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe
  • United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • The Bradley Foundation