Our students inspire us and give us hope, for they are the future of Ukraine. Despite the calamities and challenges of wartime, the campus is filled with young smiling faces. In September, the Ukrainian Catholic University became a meeting place for youth, diplomats, representatives of business, the clergy and the public sector. We are grateful to all our defenders for the opportunity to educate and shape the elite that will change the country and our donors for their trust.
How are the UCU community (students, teachers, parents, and graduates) and the university’s donors working towards Ukraine’s victory? Read the report on the seventh month of the full-scale war to find out.
During the seven months of the war, together with donors, UCU spent 4.4 million dollars on humanitarian aid. This month, most of the funds (48%) were allocated to acquiring medical supplies, 18% were directed to emergency food aid, 17% to support volunteer organizations, 9% to logistical needs, 5% to support internally displaced persons, 2% to acquire protection and safety equipment, and 1% to improve UCU’s safety.
Students on the Front Lines
Since the first days of Russia’s full-scale invasion, UCU students and employees have defended our country as part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ukrainian volunteer battalions and territorial defence brigades.
“Whenever it’s hard, and I feel like giving up, I remember that everything I do now, in this war, is for all my fallen friends,” says Alina Mykhaylova. She has been at war since 2014. Alina is a paramedic, a volunteer, a public activist, a deputy of the Kyiv City Council, and a student in the master’s program at the UCU School of Public Administration. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, she has been coordinating medical aid in the unit and evacuating the wounded on the front line. “I’ll take the tasks I can do or the things I can learn quickly. At times I feel like I’m not doing enough, for it always seems that I can do more,” says Alina.
You can read more about the war for independence, the things that help us not to lose heart, about studying at UCU and plans after the victory in a short interview with Alina Mykhaylova by following the link.
Heroes Never Die
In the 7th month of the war, our community suffered irreparable losses.
Oleg Kurskyi, a 2nd-year student of the master’s program in the management of non-profit organisations at the UCU Institute of Leadership and Management, died fighting against the Russian occupiers. Oleg had been fighting in the East of Ukraine since March. He joined the 24th OMBr (Separate Mechanized Brigade) named after King Danylo as a volunteer. Oleg was originally from Donetsk and was heading a separate division of the NGO “Ukrainian People’s Council of the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions”.
In his honour, together with his groupmates, the master’s program established an annual scholarship named after Oleg Kurskyi, allowing two talented students to study in the program. The goal is to collect UAH 100,000 to cover 50% of the education cost for two public sector leaders in the following years. You can make a donation and support this goal here: https://ilm.in.ua/donate/. Please, indicate the following in your comment: towards the scholarship named after O. Kurskyi.
On August 19, Andriy Dobrovetsky, nicknamed “Dobro”, a graduate of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of UCU (2005-2009), died a hero at the front. This happened in Village Blahodatne in the Mykolaiv region. We said our goodbyes to Andriy on August 27 in Lviv, in the Church of the Ascension of the Lord.
Returning to Campus
On September 14, we officially welcomed our first-year students to the UСU community. This year, 435 students enrolled in the bachelor’s programs of the Ukrainian Catholic University. More than 240 donors from Ukraine, the USA, Canada and Europe supported students with scholarship donations. Thanks to these funds filling the UCU Charitable Foundation, students were awarded more than 400 scholarships, which fully or partially cover the educational costs and accommodation in the Collegium (provided they are enrolled in the formation program). This year, the total amount of donor support amounted to 1 million 450 thousand US dollars. Submission of scholarship support applications, particularly for the master’s students, is still ongoing.
Traditionally, during the celebrations dedicated to the beginning of the academic year, bricks from donors were consecrated in the Church of Saint Sophia-Wisdom of God within the framework of the annual UCU Days. This year, the bricks were provided by Mykhailo and Oksana, Ivan and Mariya Durbak. Over the years, more than 150 families donated to the construction and decoration of the university church by establishing memorial bricks. The university community, priests, and laity pray for our donors daily.
Our university is always open to our students and their parents. At the beginning of the new academic year, UCU Rector Fr. Bohdan Prach and the rectorate members had a meeting with the first-year students’ parents. During the “Coffee With the Rectorate”, parents could ask questions about the study conditions, the university’s financial model, achievements and plans.
Myroslav Marynovych, Vice-Rector for University Mission, is convinced that the UCU community does more than declare the Christian tradition – it lives in accordance with this tradition: “Parents, we call on you to join us in creating a new image of a student – a member of the new Ukrainian society free of Soviet heritage”.
Blaring alarms did not hinder the meeting “In the Shelter with Bishop Borys Gudziak”. We gathered more than 150 graduates of the Ukrainian Catholic University, allowing them to spend this time together, share their thoughts on living in times of war and talk about rebuilding Ukraine after the victory.
“Allow me to call on you to be great: breathe deeply, walk with your heads held high and your eyes open. Be great! Be great like Christ, like Sheptytsky, like Mother Teresa. Be great in your kindness and hope. You have the right not to be afraid, for the Lord gives you immense strength, for you have witnessed miracles! Where you want to grow and how to become someone you want to be – that is between you and God, your family and associates. I have no doubt that your generation will change Ukraine on various fronts. Hold on to these, hold on to the truth and each other, and the Lord shall give you strength,” Metropolitan Borys Gudziak, President of UCU, stated while addressing the graduates of the Ukrainian Catholic University.
“I remember how we were told at UCU to wish big. I have worked in Bucha since the liberation of the Kyiv region from the Russian invaders. Here, I do what we were taught to do at UCU – witness, serve, and communicate. Still, what I do most is listen. I listen to people talking about death, and sometimes I need to hold their hand… At the time, I would hear up to five confessions a day. Women’s confessions. Men’s confessions were the hardest, for they are not used to crying, and stories like these are bound to move you and make you cry,” said Sofia Kochmar-Tymoshenko.
The Team and the War
A few months before the full-scale invasion, the Ukrainian Catholic University approved a new model of virtues and competencies for its teachers and employees. Virtues like “witnessing, serving, communicating”, “braving the deep waters”, “being proactive”, and “wishing big” were to become the main drivers of the growth and development of the UCU team. Although the war made its adjustments, it did not stop the process of introducing this new model. On the contrary, the transition helped the team get through the times of the greatest crisis and upheaval.
“We often talk about the university’s mission and our values. These concepts are easy to work with in times free of crisis. While in times of war, it is not what should be done that comes to the fore, but simply acting and being efficient. Today, these competencies help us move forward. This is our reference point in communicating with students, serving others, being flexible, etc.,” Khrystyna Tsar, the Head of the Personnel Management Department, is convinced.
What lessons will the world community and we learn from the war? How should the future reconstruction and renewal of Ukraine and society take place? These topics were the focus of this year’s UCU Days.
We have united our university teachers, students, graduates and friends on one platform.
Among the speakers were: Archbishop-Metropolitan of Philadelphia Borys Gudziak, vice-rector, the new dean of UCU Business School Sophia Opatska, historian, vice-rector of UCU Oleh Turiy, historian Yaroslav Hrytsak, psychologists Roman Kechur and Oleksandra Nizdran-Fedorovych and many other distinguished guests.
“Many generations of Ukrainians, your predecessors who were destroyed in Soviet prisons, dreamed of you being here! Let there be our Ukrainian Catholic University! Let us be attentive, for great treasures and opportunities lie before you. I ask you to find time to pray in silence every day. Find some time to be with God,” Bishop Borys Gudziak, president of UCU, addressed the first-year students on the occasion of the beginning of the new academic year.
The issues of Ukraine’s revival and post-war transformation and the power of world solidarity in times of war were discussed during the international partnership meeting “Recovery of Ukraine: Global Academic Solidarity”. The meeting was held on September 12, 2022, as part of the UCU Days.
Among the speakers were: Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Philadelphia Archdiocese of the UGCC in the USA, President of UCU Borys Gudziak, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Internationalization of UCU Dmytro Sherengovsky, co-founder of the SavED Charitable Foundation, former Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Anna Novosad, Deputy Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund Vladyslav Rashkovan, Volodymyr Turchynovskyy, Вean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of UCU. UCU Vice-Rector for Strategic Development Sofia Opatska was moderating the meeting.
Vladyslav Rashkovan, Deputy Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, said: “It will be very hard to rebuild without private capital. Thus, Ukraine will first need to receive grants, loans, and investments. ‘Build better’ should become one of our principles. Today we have a unique chance to eliminate the Soviet heritage from our architecture, infrastructure, and urban planning. We cannot miss this opportunity. Also, let us not forget that the war requires lots of resources. We will need humanitarian, military, logistical, financial, and sanctions resources for short-term survival and long-term recovery.”
The full recording of the panel discussion “Recovery of Ukraine: Global Academic Solidarity” can be found here.
On August 31, Fr. Bohdan Prach, Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University, and Shearer West, President of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom (The University of Nottingham, UK), signed a Memorandum of Understanding, Support and Academic Cooperation.
In these trying times for Ukraine, the Cormack Consultancy Group (CCG) company helped UCU establish a partnership with the University of Nottingham, which made a proposal called the “Twinning Initiative”. Together with “Universities UK”, the Association of the Universities of the United Kingdom, Cormack Consultancy Group launched a project called the “Unification Initiative”. The project aims to initiate and strengthen cooperation between Ukrainian universities and their counterparts in the EU and Great Britain that share a similar profile, size and majors.
UCU expresses sincere gratitude to the University of Nottingham for joining the Network of Solidarity and Strategic Partnership with the Ukrainian Catholic University in these challenging times!
You can read more about UCU’s international partners and the Solidarity Network here.
UCU Unites the Diaspora
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has united society within the state and throughout the world, for war has no borders. For example, the Ukrainian diaspora in Australia promptly organised the medical equipment supply, and UCU became the vital bridge in receiving such much-needed help. Dr. Liz (Lesia) Paslawsky, an international expert in the health care field and a Ukrainian by origin, actively participated in creating the public health sphere in Ukraine, which is still in its infancy. In addition, she has been productively cooperating with the Ukrainian Catholic University for many years.
When Liz found out that Russia had started a war against Ukraine, she immediately contacted the Embassy of Ukraine in Canberra regarding the required medical supplies: “I contacted the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, and they provided a list of the things they need,” says Liz. “As soon as we receive financial assistance, we purchase the medicines of the highest priority. For example, UCU is about to receive another batch of tourniquets, bandages, etc., which are essential for those at the front. We make sure that the medicines that are most needed reach Ukraine. We also receive essential high-quality surgical instruments, which some European companies gave us virtually for free. And finally, we are looking for hospitals in Ukraine that need this high-tech equipment. We are currently cooperating with hospitals in Kyiv and Dnipro, which are the recipients of these medical devices and train their doctors to work with them.”
UCU Is a Place of Dialogue
The All-Ukrainian Forum of Local Self-Government took place within the walls of UCU. Community leaders came together to discuss local communities’ challenges in wartime.
“All Ukrainians and all civilised countries are looking forward to our victory. The world admires the attitude and indomitability of our Warriors. And we must ensure that the world continues to admire us after our victory as a country built on the values that will lay the foundations for the new world order. Ukraine requires major reforms based on transparency, honesty, and the concept of people-centeredness. We shoulder great responsibility, for we have to reform our society and become an example of qualitative changes for Europe and the world. Graduates of our university are ready to serve you within these processes. They are well-conducted, educated, and patriotic young people who actively participate in social changes,” said Fr. Rector Bohdan Prach opening the 9th All-Ukrainian Forum of Local Self-Government.
Within the framework of the forum, a meeting of UCU students with the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Ruslan Stefanchuk, took place. The meeting was held in an informal atmosphere in the shelter. And despite the air alarm blaring, the participants had an opportunity to ask questions regarding the reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories and personal reflections on February 24.
“The experience we are gaining and the price we are paying for our independence should lead us to a certain decision-making algorithm so that this does not happen again. This is our chance to build a modern state, and I am sure that the young people in this hall will put this experience to good use,” said Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. On September 22, he met with UCU students within the All-Ukrainian Forum of Local Self-Government framework.
On September 26, Věra Jourová, Vice-President of the European Commission, visited the Ukrainian Catholic University. It was her first visit to Lviv. She met with the rector of UCU and the rectorate representatives over coffee. Also, Věra Jourová discussed the future of Ukraine in the EU with the UCU students.
“Ukraine needs support. Ukraine needs weapons. I am here today to understand how we can further help Ukraine,” said Věra Jourová.
The full recording of this conversation can be found here.
Short Stories from the Great War
The project “Short Stories from the Great War” team travelled to the frontline cities in the summer. Mariya Skvortsova is the first heroine, a young entrepreneur from Dnipro who had her own business before the war. Her creative agency created advertisements for “Allo”, “Boomza”, and “Lasunka”. In the interview, Mariya speaks about moving from Mykolaiv to Dnipro, switching to the Ukrainian language and the reasons her father does not understand her pro-Ukrainian position. She also explains how at the age of 26, together with a team of volunteers, she managed to organise the work of five shelters and implemented multiple art projects.
We express our deep gratitude to our charitable partners for helping Ukraine during the seven months of the war:
- 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)
- Ginger Foundation
- Omelan and Tatiana Antonovych Foundations
- University of Notre Dame (Australia)
- Drs Timothy and Luba Flanigan
- Catholic Peace Foundation (Hamburg)
- McKinsey for Children
- Hundreds of benefactors from the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe
- Arseniy Yatsenyuk Foundation “Discover Ukraine”
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- The Bradley Foundation