We will win this fight: Report on UCU’s activities during the sixth month of war
August 24, the Day of Restoration of the Independence of Ukraine, marked the 6th month of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine continues to fight tirelessly for its Freedom and Will. Every Ukrainian is working towards victory, each in their own place: some take up arms to fight on the front line, while others volunteer, helping all those who need it.
How is the UCU community and the university’s donors working towards Ukraine’s victory? Read the report on the sixth month of the war to find out.During the six months of the war, together with donors, UCU collected 4.08 million dollars for humanitarian aid. This month, most funds (40%) were directed to acquire medical supplies, 18% allocated to support volunteer organizations, 17% to logistical needs, 11% to support internally displaced persons, 9% to emergency food aid, 4% to acquire protection and safety equipment, and 2% were allocated to improving UCU’s security.
Fighting on the Front Line
On August 24, on the Independence Day of Ukraine, the students, teachers, and graduates of UCU, who are currently on the front lines, recorded a video message to the UCU community and all Ukrainians.
“I appeal to the community of the Ukrainian Catholic University, who have always been strong in their work, their success, and their unity in achieving goals. Each of us, in our own way, must do everything possible to bring victory closer. Everyone has a role in this process. Keep fighting – we will win! We will be victorious. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!” Ivan Zinoviev, a student in the master’s program in the management of non-profit organizations, sends his congratulations from the front.
The community of the Ukrainian Catholic University is grateful to everyone who is fighting for the independence of Ukraine!
As part of the project “Short Stories from the Great War”, three new videos and interviews were released about the heroes fighting for victory on the front line and the home front.
“For us, the returned Crimea will be a symbol of victory,” says Oksana Novikova, the heroine of the “Short Stories from the Great War” project. Russia drove her out of her home in Crimea eight years ago. However, Oksana did not give up after moving to Lviv in March 2014. Oksana and her husband now own three “Krymska Perepichka” Home Bakeries (“Crimean Bakery”) in Lviv. In the interview, Oksana speaks about the peninsula before the invasion and how it has changed. She also talks about systematic work and volunteering that unite like-minded people and create a cosy Crimean nook in Lviv.
We also recorded an interview with Dmytro Dymyd, a twenty-one-year-old student of UCU. In February 2022, he postponed his studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University to join the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and defend our statehood and freedom. At the beginning of June, the war took the life of his brother, Artem Dymyd. Though the war made Dmytro rethink many things, it hasn’t shaken his beliefs, and now he feels he is needed here and now.
“I love UCU, and I enjoy studying here. When fighting, UCU is in my thoughts. I remember that I want to finish my studies. I have the badge of the Ukrainian Catholic University in my coat’s pocket, near my heart. I used to have it pinned on the coat, but I didn’t want to risk losing it. That is why UCU is a part of my fond memories and plans for the future,” Dmytro shares in the interview.
Another hero of the “Short Stories from the Great War” project, a graduate of UCU, Roman Lozynsky, began his training with the national scout organization “Plast” at the age of seven. Now he is 28, but awareness of the century-old aggression of his northern neighbor motivated Roman to prepare for this struggle pretty much his entire life. Roman went to war in the first days of a full-scale invasion.
“Though those who go on the offensive are afraid, they understand they do so to win back our country. Though those defending themselves are afraid, they understand that if they withdraw, the fighting will draw one step closer to the home of the people who live behind. Therefore, fear is with you at all times, but so is control over one’s expectations, time management, and managing one’s fear,” Roman says.
We cannot predict when the war will come to an end, but we know that Ukraine needs young professionals who will take responsibility for the country’s development. We believe that these should be people who take values-based actions. Therefore, we must remain flexible and ready for different scenarios while living our community life to facilitate the university’s mission and educational goals.
In the next academic year, we will be conducting the educational process at UCU in the traditional format – live. Our shelters have been additionally equipped and strengthened, checked by a commission with the participation of representatives of the State Emergency Service and deemed suitable for use. Unlike many educational institutions, we, with God’s help, have the opportunity to work on campus and thus must make good use of it.
submitted applications for bachelor’s programs after taking the national multi-subject test, UCU has the highest competitive score among all Ukrainian universities – 181.6. The first stage of the 2022 admission campaign for bachelor’s programs showed that applicants and their parents trust UCU, as do the funders of scholarships that help Ukraine’s future leaders acquire valuable education.
“Graduating from school, preparing for the NMT, going through the admission campaign during a full-scale war – this year has been challenging for school graduates. And we are pleased that talented students continue to apply for studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University even in these trying times. For the last four years, UCU has kept the indicator of the highest average score. We are proud of our students!” Says Anna Turchynovska, head of the UCU Applicant Center.
The Ukrainian Catholic University is opening a centre in Poland. The notarial deed establishing the Foundation of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Wrocław was signed on August 18, 2022. UCU’s Rector Fr. Bohdan Prach, Wrocław-Koszałyn Bishop Volodymyr Yuszczak, and Rafał Dutkiewicz, a Polish politician and businessman who served as the president of the city of Wroclaw from 2002 to 2018, are its founders. Volodymyr Yuszczak and Rafał Dutkiewicz are honorary senators of the Ukrainian Catholic University and are well acquainted with its mission and activities.
“Establishing a center in Poland is a very significant step for us. The Ukrainian Catholic university should be where Ukrainians need spiritual and intellectual support. Our task today is to convey God’s truth to people, continue to serve them even where they find themselves due to the hard times of war, and help establish closer contact with the Polish environment. Many Ukrainian and Polish volunteer and public organizations are already operating in Poland, so we are ready to cooperate. But we also hope that our presence there will help build new bridges of solidarity between the EU and Ukraine,” noted the rector of UCU, Fr. Bohdan Prach.
Oleh Turiy, UCU’s Vice-Rector for External Relations, spoke about the plans to open an UCU center in Kharkiv in the near future. “With the expansion of our activities, we respond to the current needs and challenges and look for new ways to implement the university’s mission. From Kharkiv through Kyiv and Lviv, and to Wrocław – this is UCU serving in a new dimension of Central-Eastern Europe, drawing a new mental map.”
UCU projects received honors at the worldwide competition for community-oriented learning projects, Uniservitate Global Award 2022. Special honors in the Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East hub went to the “Shelter for Internally Displaced Persons” and “I am Different!” projects. The latter allows students of the “In search of God” discipline to join the integration theatre “Laughter and Tears”, which is part of the community of the support center for people with special needs, “Emaus”.
UCU received the award of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, the “Sciat Vt Serviat” medal, which reflects the motto of the Federation “Knowledge for the sake of service”. The medal was awarded during the participation of university representatives in the 27th General Assembly at Boston College, which is held every 3-4 years and gathered more than 200 participants from 53 countries. With such a symbolic gesture, the board of the Federation expressed their support and solidarity with UCU and the Ukrainian people facing Russia’s unjust aggression.
When accepting the award on behalf of the community, President of UCU Metropolitan Borys Gudziak expressed his gratitude to the Federation and representatives of Catholic universities for their support: “Though this is a war in and against Ukraine, it does not concern Ukraine alone. This is a war for Europe and world democracy. I am grateful to the International Federation of Catholic Universities for supporting Ukrainians who now defend freedom worldwide.”
At the 27th Assembly of the Federation in Boston, UCU was represented by First Vice-Rector Taras Dobko, Vice-Rector for Strategic Development Sophia Opatska, and representative of the UCU Foundation in the USA, Olha Zarichynska.
“This year, representatives from all over the world attended the conference. We made a special effort to communicate with representatives from Asia, Africa, and Latin American countries. Our contacts are less developed with these regions, and Ukraine needs more support from these countries. It was also particularly important to see colleagues from Europe and North America. America has been very actively supporting the UCU in recent months. After all, live communication makes a different impression than talking about the situation in Ukraine via Zoom,” says Sophia Opatska, UCU’s Vice-Rector for Strategic Development.
Another equally important conference of the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) was held in Boston at the beginning of August. According to Sophia Opatska, it was an excellent opportunity to speak about Ukraine’s situation and the university’s activities during the war, even though the Ukrainian Catholic University is not a member of the association.
In her report “Crisis and Fragility of Democracy”, Sophia Opatska spoke about Ukraine’s struggle against Russian invasion and oppression: “Democracy is fragile. If you believe in democracy, you must be ready to defend it and stand for human dignity, freedom of speech, civil society, and free elections. These things are often taken for granted in many countries, but today Ukrainians are defending them at the cost of their own lives.”
20 UCU students took part in an international summer school in Croatia. A school called “Practicing Resilience. Preparing for Recovery” took place in Dubrovnik within the framework of the partnership between the Ukrainian Catholic University, the University of Notre Dame (USA) and the Catholic University of Croatia. For two weeks, students were developing projects aimed at rebuilding Ukraine after the war. Daria Agafonova, a 2nd-year student in the bachelor’s program “Ethics-Politics-Economics”, also joined the School. Daria developed a project dedicated to organizing ethics and morality lessons in elementary school, based on life practices and the methodology of forming certain moral qualities starting from one’s early childhood.
This year, six students of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv were selected for internships at Google. All of them study at the Faculty of Applied Sciences.
“It’s difficult to talk about the war at Google. Like any of its international counterparts, this company has its own values. Equality is one of them, meaning we do not judge people by nationality, race, religion, etc. This ensures every employee’s comfort, so I can’t speak ill of the aggressor country. I still raise these topics in private conversations, though. I know that Google supports Ukraine, and many groups here gather to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” says Victoria Maksyuk, a 3rd-year student, in an interview for DOU.
“We must preserve culture if we are to preserve the Ukrainian state,” says Iryna Krechkovska and Mykola Kryvyi, students of UCU, co-founders of Save Art UA charity organization. At the end of March, they decided to aid on the cultural front. They launched a project to collect information about the destroyed monuments of architecture in Ukraine and publish it on an interactive map. At the same time, the Save Art UA team is collecting money for the preservation of these monuments.
The founders of Save Art UA managed to gather more than 20 people, with the vast majority being students and graduates of UCU from various faculties. The British Council supported the ambitious project in the BigIdeaChallenges competition. The startup mentor is Christopher Norris, a British serial entrepreneur (over 15 businesses), an expert in book publishing, media, mentoring, writing, marketing, crowdfunding, social entrepreneurship and commercial startups.
“We think about what happens after the war and what we will do to preserve our unity. From the very beginning, we had a very ambitious idea: to restore architectural buildings and make them into cultural spaces for their inhabitants. That is, to unite people around them. It seems that our society rallied to fight only in the beginning of the war. We want people to have something in common, so they remain as united as we are now. And culture is an effective way to implement this idea,” says Mykola Kryvyi, a Faculty of Applied Sciences student.
With the beginning of a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine, the Library of the Ukrainian Catholic University is doing everything possible to help Ukrainians survive these difficult times, particularly through literature and information access. The library team has already collected hundreds of books for Ukrainians who were forced to leave the country due to the war. At the beginning of the academic year, the first stage of the new project, “I Want to Read”, will be launched to collect books and funds to restore libraries in destroyed schools.
“The new academic year is about to start. Children and students will return to the educational process. And the war in Ukraine is not over yet. Not yet! Not all children have a place to return to, and not all have the opportunity to study. In fact, for all these valid reasons, we decided to start the “I Want to Read” project at the library of the Ukrainian Catholic University. The project will support the Ukrainian language, education, and culture through books and reading. At the moment, our main goal is to be useful,” says Oksana Mykytyn, director of the UCU Library.
Books can be given to the UCU Library from September to November 2022. If you cannot bring or send books, you can support the project financially by following this link.
For six months, Ukraine has been heroically fighting for freedom – its own and that of the entire world. Hundreds of charitable organizations, entrepreneurs, and millions of ordinary people provide financial and prayerful support to Ukraine. The world academic community expresses solidarity with the Ukrainian people, helping students who were forced to leave the country due to the war with Russia.
Fr. Daniel Groody, a professor of the University of Notre Dame, associate professor of theology and global affairs, Vice-President and Associate Provost for Student Affairs, and Ben Wortham, Vice-President of Behavioral Health Integration of Catholic Charities USA, recently visited Ukraine.
Together with Bishop Borys Gudziak, Metropolitan and Archbishop of the Philadelphia Archdiocese of the UGCC in the USA, they visited UCU, the Center for Volunteering and Protection, and the “Wings of Hope” charitable foundation. They also met with wounded military personnel in the hospital and visited a modular town for internally displaced persons.
“I tell Americans that people in Ukraine are our brothers and sisters. And just as they sacrifice their lives for fundamental human freedoms, we need to rediscover (and remember) the sacrifices inseparable from the freedoms that so many people enjoy today. A threat to freedom in Ukraine is a threat to freedom everywhere,” Fr. Daniel Groody says in an interview.
You can read about the reasons the war in Ukraine concerns the whole world, why it is necessary to support the Ukrainian people, and the role of education in restoring global peace in an interview with Ben Wortham and Fr. Daniel Groody.
We express our deep gratitude to our charitable partners for helping Ukraine during the six months of the war:
Ukrainian Catholic University Foundation (USA)
Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation (Canada)
Philadelphia Metropolis of the UGCC in the USA
Catholic dioceses of Germany
“Renovabis” Foundation (Germany)
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