The beginning of the Russian war against Ukraine on 24th February was a shock, also for the CJ sisters of the Middle European Province – and it marked the beginning of large-scale help efforts. As Hungary – one of the neighbouring countries of Ukraine – is part of the Province, the first relief projects began there. The sisters have opened their house in Eger for refugee women and children. Sr Jerne has been supporting newly arriving refugees at the border right from the beginning, as part of a Caritas team and volunteers.
In Germany and Austria, the sisters have also been organising relief projects. The sisters in Neuburg, Munich-Pasing and Augsburg have welcomed refugees within their homes and support them in coping with bureaucratic needs, learning the language and other tasks. In St. Pölten, where the sisters leased Lilienhof, one of their houses, to Caritas at the beginning of the year to use it as a refugee shelter, a welcome centre for newly arrived refugees from Ukraine has been opened. In Munich-Nymphenburg, the Emmaus History Project, which welcomes scientists for fellowship with the sisters, has been expanded so that scholars from Ukraine can live there and continue their research.
In Simbach, where elderly sisters live and are taken care of, the sisters donated hygiene articles, clothes and other sorely needed relief items for refugee women and children. Furthermore, they donated some of their bicycles in order for the refugees to be more mobile and able to provide for themselves more independently.
The Provincial leadership also provided a generous donation for the work of the sisters in Ukraine and Slovakia to support their important work on site, serving the people in the war torn Kyiv and Uzghorod as well as at the borders with Slovakia.
Many Mary Ward schools in the Middle European Province also support relief projects fur refugees or in Ukraine. The schools in Mainz, Altötting and Mindelheim, e.g., did sponsor runs to collect donations. In Nuremberg, twin city of Kharkiv, the pupils did a large fundraiser as well as the school community in Augsburg. Students of Mary Ward Academy in Eichstätt supported the transport of medical supplies to Ukraine, the Eichstätt middle school collected relief items to be transported to people in the war torn areas. The “big band” of Mary Ward Gymnasium in Nymphenburg recorded a welcome song for their new fellow pupils from Ukraine and the members of Mary Ward school in Altötting organised a fundraiser selling homemade cakes, donating the funds raised to a relief coalition including Caritas International. In Fulda, another successful fundraiser was held and the pupils in Bamberg organised a prayer for peace and other relief projects.
The companions of Mary Ward, a lay community associated with the CJ, also organised a prayer for peace. And during the „Katholikentag“, a large gathering of Catholic organisations with more than 25,000 participants, the Ignatian communities invited participants to a liturgy praying for peace – thinking especially of the CJ sisters and the Jesuits serving the suffering people in Ukraine.